news-category: Campus News

Volunteers from Gardner-Webb Serve on Medical Mission Team to Dominican Republic

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Two members of the Gardner-Webb University community recently returned from a medical mission trip to Barahona in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Sydney Brown, dean of the Gail Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies and professor of education, and Brook Wright, a second-year student in the Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner program, traveled with Dream Ministries, an organization that has been working in the Dominican for over 20 years. Through the years, multiple GWU nursing faculty and students have been a part of this mission experience.

This was Brown’s second year to participate, and Wright’s first mission trip. They took eyeglasses and medicines with them that had been donated by GWU faculty and students. The group went to five different Bateyes, or shanty towns, to see patients. Most of these places don’t have latrines or safe drinking water, and electricity is non-existent. During their five-day trip, the team saw 622 patients, filled 2,541 prescriptions, distributed 1,800 pounds of beans and rice and assigned out 130 pairs of glasses.

Wright, who lives in Ellenboro, N.C., obtained her Associate Degree in Nursing and Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Gardner-Webb. She works at Atrium Health Cleveland in the Intensive Care Unit. “I went on this trip, because God said, ‘Go,’” she shared. “I have a heart for international medical missions, and I felt he has been preparing me for this for a long time.”

She worked with a provider on the team, seeing patients and making home visits to treat wounds. “Going to a country and being immersed in their culture, all while overcoming a language barrier, was difficult but rewarding,” Wright described. “Each patient received a bag of rice and beans after the visit. One lady told me that God had sent us there that day, because she was out of food. Another touching moment for me happened during a home visit to clean and dress a wound. After we were finished, the man asked to pray with us and during his prayer he prayed for us; in the midst of his conditions, he prayed for us.”

Brown became involved in the ministry through friends from church, who help organize the trips with Dream Ministries. In 2018, one of the team members, Dr. Chris Herring, asked her to serve as a member of his doctoral committee. “I consulted with him on developing a (web)site to orient individuals planning to attend the mission trip,” she related. “After this work, I was inspired to attend myself and help the team. I spent years not going because I lacked medical training and didn’t know that I would really be of service. In helping to develop the virtual orientation, I learned that my lack of confidence in my ability to help was common and that laypeople are also needed to do work so that providers could focus on patients.”

On this trip, Brown’s organizational skills were useful in tracking team expenses, working in the pharmacy, and inventorying medical supplies. “I learned to look for where there was a need and try to serve to the best of my ability,” she affirmed. “I learned to value the strengths I brought to the team rather than worry about my weaknesses. It was a good reminder that we can all serve as the hands and feet of Christ and that our individual gifts can come together to accomplish goals much larger than any one of us.”

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