For the past five years Haiti has held a special spot in the hearts of Trevecca’s physician assistant (PA) students.
“I absolutely loved my opportunity to travel to Haiti last year,” said Joshua Smith, a Trevecca PA student. It was truly a life-changing experience. I left that beautiful country a completely different person. The opportunities I was given, the people I met, the patients that we served ... each one of them impacted my life in some way. It stretched me both spiritually but medically as well. I know that I am closer to Christ and also more prepared to be a PA because of my time in Haiti.”
Over the years Tasha Adams, assistant professor and Trevecca Clinic physician assistant, has led PA students on medical mission trips to Haiti. For three years, the students have served and built relationships with the people of Gonaives.
In addition to serving the community through medical missions, the students have also helped and cherished the children of Emmanuel’s World Orphanage.
Next month, 25 first- and second-year PA students will travel back to the city that holds their hearts and reunite with old friends. In addition to providing medical care, this year the students are also gathering clothes to take to the children who live in Emmanuel’s World Orphanage. Clothing can be dropped off at the Trevecca Clinic in Georgia Hall until Feb. 26.
Serving the orphanage isn’t a new endeavor. Over the past three years, the orphanage, its residents and those who run it have become dear to Trevecca’s PA program. The students provide the funds that pay the rent and provide food, beds, clothing and a filtration system for the water.
For Jocelyn Benton, a Trevecca PA student who went on the trip last year and will serve again this year, being able to provide for the children is one of the best parts of the trip.
“One of the most rewarding parts of the trip last year was getting to provide well child checks, hold, play with and simply love on about 50 kids at Emmanuel’s World Orphanage,” she said. “Many of the kids have been abandoned by their families or lost their parents to death and disease. My hope is that we brought joy to these kids’ lives by showing them they are loved and cared for.”
The PA program’s mission statement declares the program’s desire “to prepare professionally competent physician assistants who will use their skills to serve their communities in compassionate ministry.” For Adams, this trip is one of the ways the program completes the mission.
“It’s a blessing for me to be able to watch them (the PA students) serve,” she said. “I think that our Haiti trip is a way for them to serve the community of Gonaives in a compassionate way.”
That emphasis doesn’t go unnoticed. For Benton, the PA program’s emphasis on serving others in compassionate ministry was one of the reasons she ultimately chose Trevecca.
“Not many schools offer the opportunity to participate in medical mission’s trips, which is something that sets Trevecca apart,” Benton said.
For Adams, the trip serves a dual purpose. Students are able to put the medical skills they’ve been learning into practice, but more than that, she prays the trip will open their eyes to how God is at work.
“My goals are always really simple,” she said. “The first goal is to expose students to the world of medical missions. The second goal is for all of us—myself included—to allow our eyes and our hearts to be open to what God wants to teach us through this trip.”
Benton loves the trip’s emphasis on providing medical care but is also thankful for the opportunity to share the hope of the gospel.
“Haiti is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, but there is also a lot of darkness there,” she said. “One of our goals is to show the Haitian people what it looks like to have good medical care as well as share with them the hope of Christ.”
For Smith, the trip’s success is dependent upon making sure the children at Emanuel’s World know how much they are loved.
“Ultimately, our goal is for each and every child at the orphanage to know that they are seen, heard, cared for and loved,” he said. “At the end of the day, those things will always be more important than any materialistic thing that we can give to them. We pray that they see Jesus through us and that they come to believe that HE loves them more than they could ever know!”
What to donate*
- Good condition clothes
- New undergarments
- Shoes (sandals and flip-flops)
- Summer clothing
*Please donate items usable for children ages 3-12