Below are several excerpts from a recent update we received from our friend Emily Malloure, who serves with a campus ministry in Denver, Colo. Some names and locations have been changed from the original.
Since I moved two years ago, my personal ministry has focused primarily on students at Regis University, which happens to have a large nursing program. Having visited South Asia in December 2009 and having spent a month there last summer, I started to dream about what it would look like to take nursing students there to use their expertise to serve the poor.
Last month, my dream became a reality! Over Spring Break, four nursing students – Brittany, Kristen, Abigail and Cassy – and I traveled to South Asia, spending six jam-packed days in a city that I’ll call “Four Towers.”
We visited a home for women rescued out of sex-trafficking, where the girls put their training into practice by conducting a seminar on general health, sanitation and AIDS prevention, and by making themselves available for private health consultations. Sadly, due to the low social status of women at the home, most of the doctors in their area refuse to treat them.
We spent the majority of our time at a home for the dying. It was founded by a taxi driver who opened his home to the dying people he saw while driving the streets of his city. People found on the streets who are in near-death conditions or who are abandoned because they have mental illnesses are brought there. So far they have nurtured 1,400 people until their deaths.
Many of the people there are literally bent over. They are malnourished. Workers who enter the room for the most seriously ill patients, who have full-blown AIDS or tuberculosis or both, have to wear special masks for protection.
Fittingly, one of our most difficult and emotionally draining days was spent at the home for the dying. We started the day by checking on patients in the women’s section of the home, but soon the girls went ahead of me to check on the kids in the children’s section. After a few minutes, Brittany came running back to get more medical supplies and told me, “It’s really bad over there. Cassy is crying.”
I followed Brittany back and found Cassy holding a little boy named Isaac. His limbs were all mangled and he couldn’t walk.
“When I found him he was sitting in his own feces,” Cassy said. “He has small wounds all over his body from not being moved and he has a pretty bad cut on his ear.”
Cassy cleaned him up and bandaged his ear and his wounds. The next day, she brought him a new pillow because his old one was full of bedbugs, and she trained one of the home’s volunteers how to exercise Isaac’s limbs and strengthen his muscles to prevent him from getting bedsores in the future. It was wonderful to be able to help some people at the home, but many of them were beyond our ability to help physically. So instead, we spent time painting their fingernails or praying with them.
Each morning of our trip, we spent some tear-filled time together reading about Jesus’ miracles in the Gospel of John, and reading through Mother Teresa’s letters from Come Be My Light. I was especially touched by these words of Mother Teresa, “Today God loves the world so much that He gives you, He gives me, to love the world, to be His love, His compassion.”
A week after we returned to the States, the five of us got together to exchange pictures, and Cassy told me, “This trip totally changed my life! I have no idea what I’m going to do now. I had a plan, but God is messing it all up!” She still corresponds via e-mail with our volunteer friend at the home for the dying and regularly checks up on how Isaac is doing.
If you have any special medical skills, have you considered using them like these nursing students used their training? For more information about Emily’s spring break trip to South Asia, contact her directly.