Alleviating Poverty Through Education and Health

Jordan and I (Debbie) knew that God was calling us to go on a medical mission trip with Rowkids, and your contribution from the Kim Usery Foundation played a large part in making the trip possible. I had been to Belize with Rowkids for years ago on their first medical mission trip so it was very special to return on my niece Jordan’s first mission trip.

On the first medical trip we did not know what was in store for us but the experience was life changing. We were able to see over 1,000 locals, many of whom had never seen a doctor before, and make a real impact on their lives. We were able to alleviate parasites, provide medicines, dispense reading glasses, and create a database of the patients including picture, birth date, village name, and medical findings so that future groups could follow up and continue what we started. One particular patient has stood out in my memory. As the day was ending I saw an 84 lady crying in the area where we were providing the reading glasses. She overheard me asking a fellow worker what was the problem and she told me that she was the only person in her family that could read and because of eye problems and not having access to glasses she had not been able to read the bible to her family in over five years. Here tears were tears of joy that she could now see well enough to once again read the bible and was overcome with joy at the prospect of celebrating her faith through the reading of God’s word.

The founder of Rowkids, John Eve, makes several trips each year to help mission teams while they are on the ground in Belize. It is normal for him to take one group to the airport to leave and wait a few hours to pick up a new group upon their arrival. During one such waits another person waiting at the airport that had seen John there on several occasions asked him why he was there and John told him the story of Rowkids and their efforts to help alleviate poverty through education and health. The person asked John what his biggest need was and he replied that we had been able to make large advances in the amount and types of medical services we could offer but we had several dentists that would like to come and help but we were in desperate need of a dental chair and John had been told that there was only one in the country and it was owned by a private person. The man looked at John and said that there was indeed only one dental chair in the country and he was the owner of the chair. He asked John when and where he needed the chair and arrangements were made for the man to deliver it to 5 different villages on five successive days so that it could be used by our dentists in the future.

Four years later, Rowkids is now taking medical mission trips to Belize every six months in conjunction with doctors, optometrists, dentists, and a group of nursing students from the College of the Ozarks. Instead of just the single laptop used on that first trip, team members now use a dozen networked iPads to record a full workup of medical information on each patient that allows for better flow during the day we are in their village allowing us to be more efficient and see more patients each day and provides for better follow up each time we return to the area. On this trip we were able to help a young boy who was around seven or eight years old that was tongue tied and had never been able to speak. One of the doctors was able to cut the lingual frenulum that tethered the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Within minutes he was able to stick out his tongue for the first time, make better sounds, and even try a say some words. We can’t wait to go back to see what all he is able to tell us on our next trip.

Words cannot express our gratitude toward the Kim Usery Foundation for making this trip possible.