SFU Students and Faculty Visit Jamaica on a Mission Trip

SFU Students and Faculty Visit Jamaica on a Mission Trip

In March 2016, Dr. Deborah Budash, an SFU faculty member, accompanied a group of approximately 27 other friends of SFU to Holy Spirit Parish in Maggotty, Jamaica, to serve the area on a medical and business mission. Maggotty was a bauxite mining town in the 1970s; today, the residents welcome the help of health professionals for a variety of injuries and ailments. The team from SFU included a group of physician assistant (PA), physical therapy, occupational therapy (OT), and business students, as well as alumni, friends, and other members of the campus community. Dr. Budash led the OT team, who used this experience as Level I fieldwork to complement their occupational therapy studies through observation and hands-on experience.

The OT team spent two days at a nursing home operated by the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa’s order of sisters) in Balaclava, Jamaica, to provide for the rehabilitation needs of residents at the home. They also spent two days working in a free medical clinic located on the Holy Spirit Parish campus. Most of the clients who attended the free clinic complained of pain due to work-related repetitive motion injuries. The students made numerous splints to help remedy contractures and overuse injuries.

The people of Jamaica were kind to the American missionaries, welcoming the group with song and dance on the first morning. The team found their hosts to be loving and grateful for the attention they received from their guests. The residents performed many simple acts of kindness, making for a life-changing experience for their American visitors. What’s more, the area’s unreliable Internet service gave the team time to focus on clients and on fellowship with each other. This free time provided for a soul-enriching experience—a different kind of face-time. In contrast to the sub-zero climate during this time in Pennsylvania, the 80-degree temperatures were quite therapeutic as well. The group was eager to come home, yet sad to leave; the days were full and long, accompanied by laughs, camaraderie, and personal development.

SFU has traveled to Holy Spirit Parish for several years. The church in Maggotty and the Immaculate Conception Chapel at Saint Francis in Pennsylvania are in sister dioceses. The Holy Spirit Parish possesses an altar from a church in Gallitzen, PA, which was demolished long ago, and the group looks forward to continuing to visit Jamaica in the future.

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