growing up, every day after school, i used to watch oprah with my mom. it was our thing if we realized it was a thing or not. (and i’m all for #OprahForPres if anyone is asking.) i remember watching an episode about oprah in africa, on a mission trip, a special i believe, and my mom and i just cried and cried and cried watching the work they were doing to help people who had absolutely nothing. my mom probably doesn’t remember this, but we told each other we’d go on a mission trip together one day.
my mom is a nurse and has been on a few medical mission trips in the past. i always wanted to go with her on one but didn’t know what i’d be able to help with exactly, since i’m not a nurse or doctor and tend to get weak in the knees easily. she told me she was heading to Jamaica in a few weeks and they really needed a photographer to document the experience. i immediately dropped everything and jumped on it. who knew learning how to use a camera would get me to do something this cool and bring attention to such an awesome cause?
we traveled with the Jamaica Outreach Program, a non-profit that serves the poorest of the poor through my mom’s church in Florida. they do SO much for the people of Jamaica, but optical health is just one facet of their mission. i traveled with a medical crew who performs basic eye exams and then provides treatment to patients by prescribing medications or a new pair of specks, to performing cataract surgeries. on this particular trip, 12-15 surgeries were done each day…..this team is full of rockstars! i was snapping photos and documenting the entire experience for them, even up close and personal shots of the surgeries (i’ll spare ya!). the best part was watching my mom work. she’s such an amazing nurse, so kind, generous, smart, and on her feet all day…i really was blown away by how hard she works. you never really get to see that with parents in medicine so i was grateful to experience that with her. she even let me play pseudo nurse, which warmed my heart to be hands on with the patients. one lady hugged me so tightly to say thank you. mic drop.
this trip really put it into perspective how lucky we are to have basic health care in our country and how much just a pair of glasses can change someone’s world. i know how messed up our health care system is BUT the fact that we have the option is something to be grateful for. it also opened my eyes into how much STUFF is needed for a medical mission trip! the supplies and medications alone were an immensely large undertaking, but all are needed to perform each procedure and to provide care to each patient. my mission for this mission, was to help bring awareness to what the docs are doing down there, and to help ask for donations for this incredible cause. i will tell you from seeing it up close and personal, a little bit goes a LONG way. everyone down there volunteers their time and money to get there. a local doctor (one of the few eye surgeons in the country) donates his surgical center and equipment, while the Jamaican Outreach Program provides all of the supplies and meds.
if you’re feeling generous and want to donate to a cause that will go directly to helping someone see again, i can tell you that your proceeds will go directly to purchasing supplies and medications for cataract surgeries! the patients walk out of the operating room able to see again. insert heart emoji. click here to DONATE and hit CATARACT FUND