Welcome back to Mission Monday, a blog series where on the first Monday of the month we share accounts from the participants of Equiscript and OneWorld Health’s medical mission trip to Nicaragua that took place in December of 2017. This Mission Monday post features Katherine Rubin, HIV Coordinator at Ampla Health in Chico, California.
"I really felt comfortable in a new environment, new culture, and with people I didn’t know at all. I felt like I was supposed to be there."
Katherine, a seasoned mission trip veteran, found herself in a different situation this time around. As a Master of Public Health, Certified Health Education Specialist, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Wellness Coach, Katherine has traveled to Kenya and Mexico educating other cultures on health and wellness practices. At one point in her career, she spent ten months in Kenya. Quite different from her other mission trip experiences, the trip to Nicaragua last December only lasted a week and involved clinics every day, which is another aspect that she had not experienced before.
On her first day of clinics, Katherine assumed the position of "runner" which she described as the person who would help a patient from station to station and get them to the proper doctor or clinician. The other four days, Katherine helped patients with their vision needs. "I was the person who gave out the reading and sunglasses," said Katherine. "I felt very fortunate to have that role because I could sit down with people for a few minutes and work with them. That was really, really wonderful. There were several people that told me that they were happy to have it because all they wanted to do was read their Bible, and now they could. Others said it was helpful to have for their craft work, reading the newspaper, and work. It was so meaningful to so many people. It’s important for them but for us, it’s not something we think about. We can buy these glasses at Dollar Tree for a dollar but they can’t do that. Even if they had a dollar, I’m sure they’re not as cheap there," she said.
Katherine mentioned that one of her favorite parts of the trip was getting to learn more about the other volunteers. She said, "It was fun to talk with all of them about what kind of patient education they do. There were so many clinicians and nurses. Some of us weren’t but it didn’t really matter because we had different roles but we all worked together and really saw the value of each position."
Another part of the trip that she said she'll always remember was, "...being able to sit down and help people with their eye care. That was an important need. I’m so glad I was that person that could help them and see their joy when they received their glasses. Sometimes they cried; so that was really the most memorable thing."
There were Spanish speaking translators for the mission workers which was crucial in helping with the language barrier between the team and patients. Katherine said that she actually learned a lot from her translator. When I spoke with some of the providers that went on the trip, they mentioned that they saw a lot of patients with diabetes. Katherine learned from her translator, "...that Nicaragua grows all of the sugar cane so it’s common for them to have a very large amount of sugar which results in more cases of bad teeth and diabetes. They also have large amounts of carbohydrates on their plates. Having educational messages for those patients would be very helpful."
Despite this mission trip being unlike others in which Katherine has participated, she said, "I really felt comfortable in a new environment, new culture, and people I didn’t know at all. I felt like I was supposed to be there. It was easy to learn the things I needed to learn and work with the people. They were all great people. The team itself was really great and I was impressed with the efficiency of OneWorld Health. I was happy when I heard they had been praying for us before we came. That was really encouraging." She said that the trip, "confirms again to me the need for services that meet beyond the critical needs to help people make lifestyle changes."
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You can learn more about Equiscript and OneWorld Health by going to www.equiscript.com/owh
Erika Pfeifer, Marketing and Client Success Coordinator
Erika Pfeifer is the liaison between Marketing and Client Success at Equiscript. She works with both teams to collaborate and come up with ways to better reach and serve our patients, clients, and communities. Erika is a graduate of the University of Arkansas where she studied communication and marketing.