Healing through Compassionate Service University of St. Thomas-Houston’s Medical Mission Trip to Kenya
Calling her Catholic service medical mission trip to Kenya “a game-changer,” Carol and Odis Peavy School of Nursing Director of Simulation and Education Support Services Nakisha Paul found each task and endeavor she performed with patients humbling and mind-altering.
“This two-week University of St. Thomas-Houston international study-abroad trip partnering with Bethel Global Reach far outweighed any other trip,” Paul said. “I learned about the Kenyan culture and recognized what real strength and hustle look like. The Kenyan people are so compassionate and appreciative. They are the most humbling group of people I have ever met!”
On the trip, Paul joined two UST educators, Divisional Dean of Graduate Programs and Nursing Professor Dr. Lucindra Campbell-Law and School of Education and Human Services Associate Professor and Director of Research Dr. Anne Gichuri, along with five students.
Paul describes her experience.
“The work was difficult because of the lack of resources,” she said. “We only had so much to give. We had meds, allergy creams, inflammatory aids, etc. It wasn’t enough. I worked with patients who needed wound vacs, wheelchairs, and walkers. The infants were malnourished. The older children had severe ringworm due to all the dirt from unpaved roads and dirt around their homes. Most often, adults were severely congested due to the high temperatures during the day and very low temperatures at night.”
Paul continues, “We worked long days and stood the entire time. Our feet hurt, and our backs ached. We tried to stay hydrated as much as possible but were often unsuccessful. The bathrooms were as clean as possible but not to our standards here in Texas. We washed our hands using a fountain and one pump of liquid soap. They tried, and I was appreciative! I didn’t stop because they needed me. Their health became my obsession, so I endured the heat and lack of water to help those in need. Their “thank you” was different - it was sincere, and you could feel their appreciation,” she said.
One of Paul’s most significant contributions was helping two 10-year-old non-verbal, autistic twins get special needs insurance through dogged persistence and the assistance of two medical professionals. Now, the boys can go to a special needs school.
She cared for a leg wound on one female patient and gave the woman her compression socks to help her wound heal. This patient offered her four stocks of corn for payment, which touched Paul’s heart deeply.
She also used her expertise and influence as a elected school board member in Texas to help raise funds for a basketball court at an orphanage.
In addition to treating patients, raising funds, and advocating for others, Paul and Campbell-Law spent half a day at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa’s Nursing school. Educators from both schools shared insights, didactic learning experiences, research, and simulation lab aids in a genuinely collaborative manner laying the groundwork for a future partnership between the nursing schools.
“I am in total agreement with Ms. Paul that this trip was a game changer,” Campbell-Law said.
“We have collaborated with Bethel’s Global Reach since 2013 and taken students on five mission trips where we have made an impact. However, this trip afforded us additional opportunity to collaborate on a global level.”
A beaming Paul summed up her visit. “God designed this trip,” she says. “I believe God ordained the individuals on this adventure to be around the children or sick adults. And we all worked of one accord for one purpose – helping humanity!”