JAY – The Beans Corner Baptist Church, a church in Jay, ME, recently deployed a group of local volunteer nurses on a mission to La Romona, Dominican Republic to aid in the construction of Hospital El Buen Samaritano (The Good Samaritan Hospital) and work as clinicians for patients living in bateyes (sugar cane farming villages).
Multiple churches across Maine, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Iowa have sent their individual teams of volunteers to the Dominican municipality of La Romona. Two of these volunteers, Emily Clemens and Molly Elwell have come forward to share their story of coming to and working in the Dominican as part of the Dominican Republic Mission.
Clemens is not new to this kind of work, as she has been annually traveling to the Dominican for these week-long mission trips for 7 years. Elwell, on the other hand, is new to this line of work, excitedly volunteering herself to help after being invited by Clemens and hearing about what they’d be doing.
Clemens and Elwell’s work is spurred by the presence of many Haitian sugar cane farmers that seek medical attention for various ailments, such as hypertension, coughs, colds, poor appetite, stomach pain, and various infections. These farmers come from Haiti to the Dominican to seek a better life, and usually end up in bateyes farming sugar. Bateyes are remote villages with little to no access to medical care, and they often rely on the work of people like Clemens and Elwell to treat injuries and illnesses. The team, equipped with two 50 lb. bags of medicine and medical supplies, normally see around 80-140 patients a day.
The construction team goes out to Hospital El Buen Samaritano daily and works on various projects happening there, from painting curbs to pouring concrete. The hospital was ideated by Rev. Jean Luc Phanord, the founder of the project. Phanord moved from Haiti to La Romona in 1979, and was displeased with the treatment of Haitian people at the Dominican hospitals. Since then, Hospital El Buen Samaritano has been constructed with equal treatment of all patients in mind, and has been completely volunteer built since 1985.
Churches across Maine send teams of volunteers to the Dominican every last week of January. If you are interested in helping on one of these missions, you can email Clemens at email@example.com or visit the mission website for more information. In Clemens’ own words, “You do not need to be connected to a church body to have a willingness or desire to serve.”