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 Sharon Chandler, Nurse Practitioner (NP) at Central Virginia Community Health Center in New Canton, Virginia.
"Those communities are so poor, but yet they’re such happy people. Sometimes it makes us want to take our cell phones and throw them away and say, 'Hey, we really don’t need all this stuff. We just need to sit down and talk to people.'" - Sharon Chandler, NP at Central Virginia Community Health Center
Sharon is what I would kindly refer to as a serial missionary. At the time I spoke with her, she said she had been on eighteen mission trips to Honduras through the Friends of Barnabas, and was scheduled to go again just shortly after attending the Equiscript and OneWorld Health mission trip to Nicaragua. Comparing her experience on the Equiscript OneWorld Health trip to her other mission trips, Sharon said, "I totally enjoyed it. It was different from other mission trips that I have been on...the opportunity to take a different trip to a different country and run by a different company was exciting to me. I wanted to see how the two countries compared," she said.
So how did they compare?
Sharon found that Nicaragua and Honduras are similar in that, "It's the same diseases that poverty drives. Basic healthcare is what they need. They need some basic education." You may recall in previous Mission Monday posts that many of the volunteers for the trip come from Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and the population of patients they see in America experience similar health conditions to some of patients seen on the mission trip. So whether it's Honduras, America, or Nicaragua, poorer populations share some of the same barriers to better health and health care.
Compared to what Sharon sees in Honduras, she said, "The area that you’re in dictates health care too. It was a much flatter area so the transportation was better. The people tended to have a little bit more healthcare in Nicaragua. But I’m sure if we went to the mountains it would be different." She also said she could tell the government worked a little differently than the Honduran government because their roads were wider and flatter. Sharon said, "It's like, 'Oh, gosh! A freeway!' which is a double lane dirt road." I found her mention of the roads and better transportation interesting because Ray Reiser, another trip participant had said, "You’ll walk down those streets and many of them are dirt roads and people are riding horses or pulling wagons by oxen. I’ve never seen that before in my life." Perspective.
An important piece of the trip for Sharon was learning how the country functions in order to navigate through their health care system and, "...how important it is to not come in and dictate what’s going to happen but to work from within what they have. You can’t take over and say, 'This is what we’re going to do.' You have to find the resources they have that you can use and how we can help those work better."
One thing Sharon remembers most from the trip was, "The people were just as gracious and just as happy. They really went out of their way to help us when we showed up. Those communities are so poor but yet, they’re such happy people. Sometimes it makes us want to take our cellphones and throw them away and say, 'Hey, we really don’t need all this stuff. We just need to sit down and talk to people.'"
So, how did participating in the OneWorld Health trip affect Sharon's life back at home? "It changes your attitude and if it doesn’t then something is wrong with you. It makes you think about what you have and what you don’t have and the healthcare that we do have."
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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.