Back to serve! Jamaicans part of overseas mission to the island
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
Several Jamaicans living overseas and studying in the medical field have returned to the island, from time to time, as part of overseas-based medical missions to offer free health care to needy Jamaicans.
One such mission is currently in the island, thanks to Zion Care International which have partnered with Case Western University School of Dental Medicine in Ohio, the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, located in Tennessee, and the New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Itamar Carter of Case Western and Kameka Powell of the Presbyterian Hospital are among a group of more than 16 medical personnel who make up the mission this year, offering dental services to children and adults in St Mary, Portland, and St Ann. Both are on their first mission.
Carter, whose parents are originally from Manchester, said he was raised in the United States, but spent his summers in Jamaica with his grandmother.
"My grandmother instilled in me, also Case Western instilled in me, that we should always give back to the less fortunate," he said, in explaining his participation in the mission.
He added: "As I reflect on what made the most intriguing impact on me today was the fact that I had seen so many patients but having them leave in a better situation, a better condition, happier than when they came in; because the greatest reward you can get in life is serving others. That's the main focus of Zion Care, to help the less fortunate, to give back."
Giving back is important but being able to give back to his countryman makes it even more special he explained.
"This is extremely special to me because being from Jamaica and going away to get the education and coming back here is extremely special to me. The funniest thing is, when I speak to my peers I speak English, when I see a patient I speak patois and they're like, 'Wait! Dis man a really Jamaican? A Yardie?' And I'm like, 'Yeah!' The people draw to that. They feel proud, they feel happy for me and that alone makes me want to work harder. But me working hard is not for me alone, it's for my people that grow me up - the dumpling, the yam, the banana, the ackee and salt fish, those things. So it makes me feel proud and honoured to be here to serve my country."
For Powell, originally from Richmond, St Mary, the experience is also quite special.
"It has been a great experience for me," she said. "The main purpose of the mission is being fulfilled in my eyes. People are being helped and that's what it's really about, giving back to Jamaica. It's a great feeling, it's always good to be able to help people in general so to come back and be able to help your own people is a wonderful feeling."