Students Bring Medical Aid to Haitian Refugee Camps

Monday, February 11, 2008

As part of the theology course Just Health Care in Developing Nations, co-taught by Peter Clark, S.J., professor of theology, and Ann Marie Jursca, M.S.W., assistant director of the Faith-Justice Institute, 16 SJU students traveled to the Dominican Republic to aid children in Haitian refugee camps, or bayetes. Students were trained in basic medical procedures and packed 18 gym bags full of medication to stock a pharmacy at the bayete's clinic before making the 10-day service trip. While there, the students ran a dermatological clinic and deparasited over 1500 refugee children. Some students also taught a high school biology class, teaching students how to use a microscope.

"This experience allows students to take the theoretical dimensions of health care and see them in a practical way," said Clark. "Now those with inadequate health care and inadequate water have faces for these students. They no longer can talk about these issues in the abstract."

"The immersion acts as a global classroom that teaches students to challenge their first world perspectives on health care, culture and racism, among many other subjects," said Jursca. "They meet families who have not had water to cook or clean with for three months and children who could have walked had they had access to physical therapy services. But mostly, students learn to see the inherent dignity of all human beings, no matter their circumstances."

"The trip was not about what we could do for those whom we were sent to help; it was about what they shared with and gave to us, which opened our eyes to a new world and way of looking at things," added student Krysta Contino.

--David King '08

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