People began to line up just as the sun was rising. By 8 am, the line circled the entire block with the small church in the center.
We had come from the US to the Dominican Republic to help a small church with a building project and their Vacation Bible School. But when the pastor found out we could bring medicine and medical supplies, he was thrilled. “We’ll host a pop up clinic!” he told us in English.
The concept sounded oddly trendy in the dusty community just outside Santo Domingo, but we were happy to follow the pastor’s lead. He arranged for three local doctors and a med student to volunteer and the night before the clinic, we all sorted the medicine and vitamins we had brought from MAP and made a list of what was available.
The next morning we were astounded to see the line of people as we made our way to the church. We sorted the MAP medicines and arranged them in our “pop up pharmacy” where the doctors would hand us slips after seeing patients.
Then the pastor announced to the waiting crowd, “The clinic is open,” this time in Spanish.
As the men, women and children filed in, it was clear that many needed help. Some of the children had bad coughs or looked listless. Several pregnant women arrived, having never seen a doctor.
Each doctor saw patient after patient, then handed us slips for the medicine that was needed. Antibiotics went quickly. So did vitamins and decongestants. Fever reducers were given to several children along with oral rehydration therapies.
As we handed the medicine to each patient, the reactions were priceless. Some patients hugged us and repeated “Gracias, gracias” over and over. Others, with tears in their eyes, tried to explain how happy they were to receive this precious gift.
Finally, at the end of the day, the exhausted doctors told us how much they appreciated the medicine. Said one, “You can’t imagine how hard it is to tell a patient what is wrong but have no way of actually giving that person the medicine that will help.
“It was a wonderful day because we could actually help people.”
And for the pastor, the pop up clinic was an answer to prayer. “We try to show our neighbors that we care about them but it’s not always easy. Today we showed our community what loving your neighbor really means. I think many of these people will come back to our church now because we helped them when they needed it.”
If you are planning a mission trip this summer, consider taking along a Medical Mission Pack from MAP. For more information visit www.map.org/medicines.