The Baptist College of Health Sciences and Seeds Ministries have partnered for several years conducting medical missions in the spring in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Every year 25-30 students, teachers, and medical professionals work with local ministry groups to provide care for persons in villages with limited or no access to medical care.
On a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, the team set up to work in the Barahona area. One clinic was conducted in a village not far from the Haitian border. Following the major earthquake which affected the islands several years ago, refugees from Haiti moved into the Dominican Republic and flooded border communities, living in bateys under less than adequate conditions. Unfortunately, positive reception of these refugees into an already existing impoverished area only added to the tension between the two cultures and isolation for so many became the new norm.
During one of the clinics, a young Haitian girl, approximately 12 years of age, came presenting gynecological issues. This young child had no family and was being exploited and used in the villages, having already become the mother of a child and having miscarried at least twice. She was fearful and withdrawn, but in need of care. She had walked to the clinic to be seen by our team in hopes of finding medical help. Of course, she did receive that care, but the staff took extra time to care for her emotional and spiritual needs beyond the medicine.
As the day progressed, the team noticed that this young girl continued to stay in and around where they were continuing with the clinic. They shared with her food and drink and searched for ways to just visit with her. Toward the end of the day, as darkness began to fall, one of the workers asked her why she continued to be so close and was there something she needed still? She replied that she had remained because she felt for the first time that she was cared about, and was safe. That she had felt surrounded by love and grace and that she just didn’t want to leave. It was heartbreaking to have to board the vans to leave for our quarters, not knowing her fate for the future.
The team knew that there were likely others who were victims of the deep darkness that is so much in the world, but for this one day, we had been given the privilege of shedding light on that darkness for one child of God. If there was ever a living demonstration of Christ’s command to love our neighbor, this was certainly that example. What a blessing to experience.