NEGRIL, Westmoreland — FOR some people, ringing in the New Year is a time of reflection and renewal. For 35 volunteers from California, USA, it is a time for touching the lives of others.
The Sheffield and Negril Seventh-day Adventist Churches were transformed into makeshift health centres during the period of December 28, 2012 to January 2, 2013 when approximately 450 persons from the Sheffield and Negril communities in Westmoreland received free medical and dental treatment. This was made possible courtesy of a mission trip organised by the California-based Oceanside Seventh-day Adventist Church.
"I love mission trips. I spent a year in Peru on a mission trip and there I learnt some dental procedures, like cleaning and extractions. I'm glad I can be here to share Christ and utilise some of my training," said Victor Longoria, a member of team.
The mission team comprised three dentists, a general practitioner, several nurses, dental assistants, and other volunteers, many of whom are members of the Oceanside church. The dental team of Gerald Bailey, Scott Kraus and Jimena Spiegler performed a variety of procedures, including cleaning and extraction, while Dr Fred Spiegler spearheaded the medical team, which delivered various medical services.
"We are happy for the opportunity to touch the lives of others and bring smiles to their faces," said Dr Kraus.
In commenting on the programme, Pastor Astor Bowers, president of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists expressed his gratitude to the team.
"We are grateful for your sacrifice, and I am sure that those individuals whose lives you have impacted are also grateful."
Eddie Dopp, senior pastor for the Oceanside church said, "we are happy to be here. We love Jamaica, and we are happy to share with the people. This is our third year and we are enjoying ourselves. We wish we had more time, however, we have tried our best to see all who came, but the turnout was more than we anticipated".
"We are thankful for the initiative. This is giving back to our community. The turnout from the community has been overwhelming," said Vencot Dyer, pastor of the Sheffield District of Seventh-day Adventist churches. "The team has been working non-stop, trying to see as many persons as possible; unfortunately we are unable to see everyone."
Sheffield resident Sheril Curry also lauded the initiative.
"The programme is a very good one; a healthy community will be a more productive community," she argued.
"Many of us can't afford to go to a dentist, so this is a great opportunity for the community and we are happy for it," said Andrea Richards of Negril.
The Savanna-la-Mar Public Hospital was also a beneficiary of the visit as they were presented with a steriliser by the team.