The DR Medical Mission

October 23, 2011
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When I went to the Dominican Republic with my grandparents for the first time for their medical mission trip for the past fifteen years I had no idea what it was going to be like. I woke up in a hotel room close to the airport ,and I ate my leftover cheeseburger for breakfast. Once we all ate we drove to the airport ,and we unloaded all of the medical supplies for surgery because the Dominican Republic does not have the correct supplies. Each bag was probably fifty pounds and there were probably fifteen bags. We checked our personal bags and boarded the plane.
Our first stop was Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta we met up with my uncle, a hand surgeon. He lives in Oregon and he went on the “red eye” flight where you go all through midnight. We boarded the plane to the Dominican Republic and enjoyed the flight with movies on the way.
Once we arrived it was a dramatic change from the climate controlled atmosphere in the US to the humid airport in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic. Once we got through customs we finally got to go outside. When I got outside I was immediately surprised of the strong smell of diesel fuel. We loaded the heavy medical supplies onto a flat bed truck ,and the rest of us got onto a school bus. I felt sick from the constant smell of diesel fuel. It was horrible, there was no comfortable car seat to sit down in just the rough school bus seats. I tried to go to sleep ,so I put my head on the window constantly bumping up and down and I eventually went to sleep.
Once I woke up I was used to the diesel fuel smell and I felt much better. When we arrived at our living space I was surprised at the multiple bunk beds with coconut and mango trees outside our window, but I picked a bunk and headed down stairs for dinner. I got downstairs and had a good meal of chicken and rice. They had to overcook the chicken so none of us got sick because the chicken was from the market a couple blocks over. Once dinner was over I went back upstairs to go asleep. I had a pretty good night sleep, the DR had a tropical smell all night after you get past the diesel smell.
I woke up and had an ok breakfast of oatmeal, then everyone got prepared to go to their stations. My grandpa who is an orthopaedic surgeon went to the hospital to look at patients bones, and my grandma who is a nurse went to the batees (rural slums).
I went with my grandma the first day to the batees to hand out worm medicine. The medicine helps kill any tape worms in any children and adults. All afternoon we gave out red liquid medicine and toothbrushes. We also gave out tennis balls for the kids to play with, and they used them for baseball and just playing catch. Another interesting thing was that most people there worked in the sugarcane fields and everyone had parts of the sugarcane to chew on. I wanted to try some and I got some sugarcane. It was like tough celery that was sweet and, it didn’t just taste like sugar water it also tasted like molasses. We finished up at the batees and drove home in a school bus.
We had another chicken dinner and a good night sleep. The next morning I went with my grandpa to the hospital. It wasn’t like any American hospital, people were lined up everywhere to get much needed surgery. Most of the people I saw had broken legs because of all the motorcycle accidents. Everyone in the city speeds around on a motorcycle with few traffic laws. I watched my grandpa and uncle perform some surgeries that weren’t too gross and then we went to our dorms.
There we found out with the internet that there was a major earthquake in Haitti. None of us felt it because it was hundreds of miles away fortunately. Another incident that happened that day was when my grandma went to go to some stores with her doctor friends and on her way one of those speeding motorcyclists decided to zoom by her and rip her nice necklace right off of her neck and escaped! Luckily, she was not harmed at all ,just scared. We went downstairs once again for one last chicken dinner. Once the meal was finished we all packed up for the flight the next day.
We drove back to the airport then flew to Atlanta, Georgia back in America. We had dinner there but I didn’t have mine for long because I threw it up right after eating it. I was surprised I didn’t get sick at all in the DR from the market chicken but from the fast food burger. Feeling horrible we flew back to our home Kansas City, Kansas and had the best night sleep.





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