SU students find hope on volunteer mission trip
Rachel Stalker, ‘Doah Staff Writer
January 21, 2015
While most students were at home working, sleeping and relaxing over Winter Break, five S.U. students were in Panama volunteering, playing and helping in three different orphanages. The five participants on this trip were Brittani Dodson, Kelsey Smith, Catherine Adams, Josie Grant and Zana Daigle.
They first flew into Panama City on Dec. 13, and their first order of business was to spend four days volunteering at the orphanages. Dodson, a senior nursing major, was the leader of this group, as this was her fourth time to Panama since she went with GCP in 2013. “During this trip, I went to two of the same orphanages that I had been to previously… but I was fortunate enough to be able to schedule my group to go to an orphanage that I had not been to before,” stated Dodson. The two previously visited orphanages were called Malambo and Divino Nino. Metro Amigo was the other orphanage they visited, and according to Dodson, this orphanage is known as one of the worst in the country.
Senior Kelsey Smith, who is also a nursing student, said, “We volunteered our time in orphanages by playing with the kids and helping out with Christmas parties for them. We took tons of donations to each orphanage, such as clothes, school supplies, toys and everyday necessities.” Dodson also added, “We played with the children, loved on them and helped the caregivers take care of them such as changing clothes/diapers, feeding them and looking after them.”
Both Dodson and Smith said that the best part of this trip were the smiles they saw at the orphanages: smiles from children who have no family and few material possessions. During one of the Christmas parties they attended, Dodson said that many of the children were asked to pack up one of the gifts they were given and to pass on to other children who received no gifts. She said, “Many children even gave more than one gift away. This really left an impact on me because it showed me how selfless and giving these children who have nothing at all to call their own, can just willingly give up their own Christmas presents.”
As future nurses and with graduation quickly approaching, Dodson and Smith said that they felt this trip would impact their future careers.
Smith commented that this trip showed her “the impact of giving, which is a wonderful trait to have in nursing because we are constantly giving our time, effort and care to patients so they can overcome the health problems they are facing.”
Brittani Dodson said that her trip affirmed her want to help people because her “dream job after graduating would be in a pediatrics unit or a neonatal intensive care unit, and this dream has only been intensified by my trips.”
This trip has clearly made an impact on all participants, and even more so, the children who received love, care and gifts from these members of our community. Community service trips, not only in our local communities but our global communities, give us a great perspective of other people’s lives and problems and give us empathy and compassion for those who do suffer and live a harder life than we do.