Choose Your Own Adventure!
Life on a Hero Holiday is always unpredictable: there is never a shortage of crazy experiences and mishaps that you can’t wait to re-tell to all your friends. This trip is no different!We are back in Dominican Republic with about 40 medical and nursing students, one doctor, two dentists and a whole lot of enthusiasm! We have been doing medical clinics in the most unlikely of places: the dentists have had to compete with the chickens and cows for space to set up their borrowed pool lounge chairs from our hotel, the doctor has had to set up a sheet to examine some rather delicate situations, the students have had to sit in the sun outside of churches, schools, and open fields to take registrations, blood pressure and assessments, and the people they see are more than eager to get into the clinic! As the host for the trip, I have had my car start on fire (don’t worry, Mom, an over-eager local grabbed our teams’ clean drinking water and dumped it all on my engine to put it out!), I have led our team through the jungle on foot to get to a garbage dump to work with the people there that are collecting bottles and garbage for family provision, I have motorbiked through rivers that were up to my thighs, and I have sat with these teams and heard their stories, shared their laughter and tears, and dreamed with them of ways that we could make a difference both here and at home.However, with this team, there has been one marked difference: we have realized that not only is the world full of sad stories and tragedies, but it is also full of people that we can admire, that we can try to emulate, and that we can join hands with to see a better future. What can that look like? What can I do today that changes today and also tomorrow? This group is full of questions and ideas, and it is exciting to hear what is happening in their minds and hearts as they soak up this experience and throw themselves into each new situation with such fervor and anticipation. This Hero Holiday group is like a pilot group for us as we look at how we can partner with universities and schools to specialize in experiences and opportunities, and it is proving to be highly successful…(whew!)One of the funniest things that has transpired is what happens in the health seminars in the evenings. After doing a clinic during the day, a small group returns to the community and performs health seminars with the locals from the community. We are realizing that simple concepts that we take for granted are brand new information when you are illiterate or very poorly educated. This week, in one of our evening sessions, the nurses were teaching about sex and sexually transmitted infections to young teenage girls. They focused on teaching them that abstinence was the only sure way of staying STI-free. In a culture such as the one we are working with, women are rarely educated about the consequences of unprotected sex, and they are even more rarely empowered to understand that they have a choice. So, in an effort to make the concepts stick, one of our participants helped them to learn a chant that had the whole village take notice. At the end of the seminar, they girls shouted out “NO SEX, NO SEX” and their reasoning was in what they also began to shout: “If you have sex, you will get pregnant, or you will get AIDS, and then you will DIE! NO SEX, NO SEX!”…I guess they got the point!!However, outside the clinic where the seminar was going on, were some teenage boys…who looked pretty discouraged!!