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Not All Who Wander Are Lost… Everything you ever wanted to know about my Dominican mission work

Yasiri, 132 patients and BSE teaching – it was a very big day!

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Whew… as expected it was an exciting day.  We started out with a quick tour of the local open air market which has a special set of smells that just can’t be described.  Think horse poop, freshly slaughtered farm animals, spices and humanity.

After about a 45 minute bus ride, we pulled up to the school that Yasiri attends.  As we walked onto the grounds, I was looking around at all the kids, trying to find her.  Something made me look over to my right, and there she stood on the front porch of the clinic building next to the school.  Our little sweetie had already picked me out of the crowd of Americans and had her eyes locked on me.  She was patiently waiting for me to see her.  You should have seen her smile when she knew I found her!

Josefina, Yasiri’s Mom told me that our girl was so excited that she had been awake since about 4 or 5 a.m!  I got big hugs from Mama, and sat down to give Yasi the gifts I brought for her.  She especially seemed to love the yellow stethoscope and the Caribbean doll with the magic reversible dress.

Then… to make the visit even more special, a moped pulled up with Yasiri’s 17 year old sister on board.  She had gotten permission to leave school for a few minutes to come over to the elementary school just to meet me!  Isn’t that sweet?


My sweet neighbors (Marta and Taylan) recently started sponsoring a student at Yasiri’s school.  Fortunately, I was able to spend a few minutes visiting with little Felito this morning also!  He’s pretty young, so he was surprised and a little confused about the whole process… but he liked the gifts they sent.

Too soon,  we had to climb back in the bus and get to our work village for the day.  We went to Canada del Café (Coffee Creek) where we took care of 132 people with a variety of ailments including skin infections (staph), cold and flu, hypertension and many issues related to poor food and water sanitation.

Crowd waiting to be seen by the medical team and the house next to our clinic site.

Throughout the day, one of the female translators (Alexandra) and I were able to provide Breast Self-Examination teaching kits to about 20 women.  We did some verbal teaching and gave them a pink string bag containing a sponge breast model, powder, a “Thing A Ma Boob” key chain with pink puffs representing breast lump sizes, a washcloth and educational pamphlets.


Two women had specific breast concerns, so I actually performed clinical breast exams on both people.  One, I felt was more of a superficial skin issue combined with massive consumption of caffeine and the other I felt was pain related to lack of proper support.  To be safe, I encouraged both women to follow up with a physician as soon as they are able.


I had some time to hang out with the kiddos today… which is always one of my favorite parts of the barrio medical clinics.  Some of the college students set up a really cool play room, with games and toys for the kids.  It was a mad house!  They really go nuts over stickers and the friendship bracelets have been a big hit.


Interestingly… some of the patients that were seen diagnosed and treated in the morning, tried to come back in the afternoon and get more attention.  They swore that they hadn’t been there before, and asked for any items, gifts or suitcases that we had.  Many people were very adamant about wanting a suitcase, but we don’t make the decision about who gets those.  We leave them with a local representative to determine who needs them the most.


This pretty little baby was using my finger as a teething ring!

For the first time in the 5 years I’ve been coming here, tomorrow I will be working in the actual medical clinic that is on the same grounds as the guesthouse where we stay.  There is a surgical team here from North Carolina, and our team is helping to fill in some staffing vacancies in their group.  It’s GYN surgery, which we do with the Davinci Robot or laparoscopically in the U.S.  Here it is done with a large abdominal incision, or vaginally, depending on what the issues that patient has.

There is a chance that I will be working in the pre-op or post-op area… but I really hope I can help out in the actual operating room.  I’d love to be able to use some of my real-world nursing skills in the highest acuity medical clinic between here and the city of Santo Domingo (3 hours away).


     Canada del Cafe (Coffee Creek) …. Western Dominican Republic, near Haiti




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