Jamaica Medical Outreach Diary: Part One

June 13, 2011

Picture this. It’s June of 2000. I’m a geeky 20 year old pre-med Biology student at Florida State University who has never left the country without Mom and Dad, and my first trip is in a few hours. I’m headed to some of the most destitute neighborhoods in the mountains of Jamaica to do medical missionary work as a part of the International Medical Outreach program. I had never been to Jamaica, never had a Red Stripe or a jerk anything. Poor thing. I had not lived! LOL! But seriously, finding this makeshift diary in my sacred box of keepsakes this past weekend brought back so many touching memories, and has allowed me to reflect on my growth not just as a traveler, but as a woman, over the past 13 years. Though I bid farewell to my medical aspirations not long after this trip, my desire to help people in situations less fortunate than my own has not changed and reminded me why I need to plan a Heal the World trip for 2012.

June 27, 2000
Okay, it’s day 4 and I have finally found time to write some things down. It has been nonstop action since we got here. I guess I’ll try to go back to day 1.
To my surprise I woke up in enough time to get to the airport at 7:30ish on a Saturday morning. I called Chad [the bf] at 6:30 and of course threw myself off like 20 minutes then came back to my apartment twice because I had left something but hey, it’s expected. When I first got to the airport, it felt a little strange to see everybody. International Medical Outreach is a year long thing and I haven’t been able to put 100% into everything this year or even go to the packing parties over the summer [the packing parties were when the team would get together and pack medical supplies that had been donated for our trip] So I felt kind of like a slacker and wondered if anybody had any resentment. From what I could see, however, that wasn’t the case. So that was a relief.
Left to Right: Shannon, Tim, Greer, Aaron and me
During our layover in Miami, Tim and Aaron left the airport to get lunch with Wayne and they almost missed the plane. Shannon and Greer were upset and actually wanted to leave their stuff and get on the plane! Since I’m mother Theresa I was appalled but they ended up making it in time.
The doctors on our trip: Dr. Keen and Wayne
As soon as we got to Jamaica, we went to the Mineral Bath. They had a cold one and a hot one. It was then that I realized Dr. Keen was really deep. He was like, “This trip is going to change your life” and was talking about how many lives we would touch and we would be affected by it and everything. He’s a pretty deep guy. Next we went to Lime Cay. It’s an island and we took this motor boat over there. The ride was off the chain!! Even I, Tracey Daredevil Coleman was scared! It was choppy water and the boat would just skip over the waves. 
Awkward phase

Lime Cay was okay. Not much to see. The water was pretty when we got back to the mainland. We all went to the bar and tried Red Stripe beer and some bammy. The bammy was good – like a fried bread type of deal. The beer made me tipsy and I didn’t like that because I couldn’t really appreciate the surroundings as we drove around the island. [Okay let’s talk about why one Red Stripe made me tipsy? I CLEARLY did not drink enough in college. Such a nerd lol…]

We went to this mall and I got roti for dinner. It was stuffed with goat. Okay I guess you can tell that food is a big part of Jamaica. And I love to eat. So I guess I’ll be high tailing it around Lake Ella when I get back! After the grocery store we went home to the hospital. 
On Sunday we went to the Jerk Festival in Boston. I liked it but most everybody felt that it was too chaotic. I’m used to mobs of Black people at events like Kappa Luau and parties and barbecues and stuff. You have to wait forever for food and it’s hot and all but I guess that’s really frustrating to some people. So we went to Dragon Beach.  I didn’t feel like swimming so I got a drink and relaxed. The goat I ordered was good and I had Eti-oti apple juice with dinner.The days are FULL here. Nonstop from 6 AM to 12 PM. No rest. I guess that’s how you get the most out of life.
Check back tomorrow for the second half of this story from my 21 year old point of view. You’ll hear about my first encounter with patients, my frustration with the medical system in Jamaica and why nurses  are equally powerful in changing lives as doctors.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply