The Medical Mission Committee of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish (Tenafly, NJ) is a partnership of physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals as well as lay volunteers, supported by the the parish in general, who wish to share their medical talents and their capacity for spiritual support with people in areas of need. The overarching goal is to identify and to help meet the medical needs of the under served through medical mission trips of limited duration but with a mindset to providing sustainable medical solutions.
Our volunteers work as a team to treat local residents with professional care and human empathy and respect and will, in return, learn from them about the local culture and customs.
Our initial week-long scouting trip was in October, 2018 to Jose Galvez, an area on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Our first full Medical Mission team visit to Jose Galvez was in the Fall of 2018, where medical care was supplemented by medical education and, in warranted cases, referrals to local medical facilities or physicians for ongoing care. If you are interested in joining the team or donating or have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Medical Mission team’s most recent trip to Jose Galvez, Peru occurred in October 2019. Check out the photos below of their most recent experience.
Team Members' Reflections
"Take Two!"Rosemary Russell
Having returned recently from our second medical mission trip to Jose Galvez, I am still struggling to find an appropriate response when people ask me “How was the trip?” The simple answer is that the mission was very successful: We saw over 1,300 people in 5 days of clinics.
The clinics flowed more smoothly than last year, partly because this year we carried our
medicines and supplies with us and partly because we had more translators and more Spanish speaking care providers. The team was well organized and efficient. We worked well together and people pitched in when they saw someone needed help.
But that’s hardly enough of an answer. The truth is that the trip was amazing. Last year our first day started slowly; this year people were lined up and waiting well before we arrived. Their gratitude for our simple gestures overwhelmed us many times each day. Even when we had to turn people away and ask that they return the next day, they were grateful that we would see them tomorrow.
Many of the people we saw required nothing more than ibuprofen and daily vitamins. We were well stocked with both and happy to meet their needs. There was this year a sense that we saw more “sick” people -several children with high fevers or severe allergies, a few cases of undernourishment. One of our doctors identified a case of abuse in a young woman who was brought by her father worried about her lack of appetite and extreme social withdrawal. After spending hours asking questions about the local health system and following leads, the doctor is connecting the young woman to a psychologist for therapy.
Although the mission team comes from Tenafly, there are many people in Jose Galvez who make our service easier. We reconnected with the Sisters from Santa Teresita who helped ensure the site was set up for us the first day and who checked in with us throughout the week. They also accompanied one of our doctors on their visits to the homebound. We all have a friend in Clay who works for the parish school in Jose Galvez but managed to find time to help us, including his day off. The administration from Trinity School opened the school on a holiday to allow us to see patients.
Most wonderful, however, were the director and residents of San Jose Obrero Rehabilitation Facility. These men, who are recovering from various addictions, helped us unload, set up, repack and reload and in the meantime acted as translators and guides for the patients. Alejandro, who used to work in hospitality, even volunteered to handle the station where we tested people for reading glasses. They helped us but they also provided an example of faith and commitment. They start each day with prayer and singing and they sung for us the second morning, songs of praise to Jesus and a song of praise to the Blessed Mother and to their mothers who are helping them through the difficulties of their lives. It didn’t matter that not all of us understood the words, the song brought many of us to tears.
So this trip, as the last, brought home the truth of our service. No matter the months of planning and the daily hard work and exhaustion, we come home having received so much more than we gave.
"Faithful Stewards"Michael Bruno
It’s hard to believe that our second medical mission to Peru is now behind us. Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church has once again shared its abundant blessings with people in need thousands of miles away from home. We know that as Catholics, we are called to the service of others. Scripture tells us “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10-11). The doctors, nurses and staff of this mission continue to use their “gifts” to serve others; it’s another example of how our parish answers the call to service time and time again.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a small role in this extraordinary journey. It is only through the grace of God that our team of medical professionals, translators and support staff are able to touch the more than 1,300 people we come in contact with. You can actually feel His presence throughout the mission each day. You see Him in the boundless energy of the nuns and others who assist us, in the faces of the people who come for treatment and in their stunningly beautiful children. The very elderly patients who come have tremendous difficulty just walking; we had to actually carry a few in and out of the sites. However, their weathered faces always manage a smile as they thank us for helping them, many saying “God bless you” as they leave.
His grace is clearly evident in the residents of the rehabilitation center we visit. Though patients themselves, these men work with us setting up and preparing the sites. They spontaneously sing songs of praise to God and the Blessed Mother despite the terrible addictions that brought them there in the first place. Some share their stories with us, giving insight into the depth of their personal struggles.
Notwithstanding the desperately poor conditions they live in, the Peruvians are a strong, happy, family-oriented people who don’t complain about their situations. They are genuinely excited to see American physicians, waiting on long lines for the opportunity. It’s been my honor to watch our talented doctors and nurses extend themselves beyond their limits, striving to treat as many people as possible despite long days under less than optimal conditions. Our skilled translators allow us to communicate with everyone we encounter; they are a critical component of this mission. It bears mention that a few of our group even became quite sick themselves, some requiring medical treatment from the other doctors. All of our “missionaries” came together as a team with the singular goal of helping people in need; this is truly our faith in action.
This was Fr. Dan’s vision; to have our church extend itself beyond its walls to help others and what a success it’s been! It is not just the small group of us who travel to Peru who bring that vision to life, it is the entire parish community. We proudly represent ALL of the people who make this happen—those who made donations, others who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on the fundraisers, planning and more.
Although we’re back home now, the mission isn’t really over and the work hasn’t ended yet. We continue to finalize records, compile reports and the planning will soon be starting for the next mission. One thing is certain: Everyone comes away with a renewed sense of how richly blessed we are in our own lives and a strong commitment to return to continue this important mission. When you’re thanking God for all of your blessings this holiday season, take a moment to remember the people of Peru and ALL people in need. Keep them in your hearts and in your prayers.
"Thank You OLMC"Dr. Maria De Miguel
"Thank You OLMC"
Thank you again for the phenomenal opportunity to travel and serve in Peru on behalf of our parish. This year’s trip was again incredibly successful. Building on our experience from last year, we honed and improved every aspect of our system. Our supply and medication list was pruned, our logistical flow was streamlined, our pharmacy worked like a well-oiled machine, and we greatly expanded the educational materials and teaching time and attention for each visit. Furthermore, the members of our team honed their skills in their roles and we welcomed many wonderful new additions into our family.
In reflecting on my experience this year, I am again struck at what a rejuvenating experience it is to interact with the people we meet in Jose Galvez, Peru. We are equipped with our minds, hearts, basic medical instruments and treatments. Much of our work is medically straightforward, treating simple infections, aches and pains, and the symptoms of working hard and living in a demanding physical environment without basic services. Occasionally we uncover new diagnoses of chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, and very often we are disentangling the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma and the pain they cause.
We shared our expertise and the medications we were able to bring, which are undoubtedly precious resources. Yet much more importantly we shared our time and concern. Many, many patients told me how grateful they were to be able to talk with doctors and nurses about their problems and questions. We had the opportunity to explain and draw pictures of many different conditions, and help guide people on the follow up or self-care that was needed going forward. Our nursing/interpreter team provided detailed reinforcement and education at discharge, along with extensive educational materials on the common topics. Many people who came with stories of loss and trauma found comfort in the empathy, concern and prayers they found in our team.
Personally this trip helps sensitize me to the humanity and dignity in the people suffering who I encounter daily. Whenever I feel hopelessness or indifference creeping into my heart, I remember the warmth of the many hugs and handshakes I received and witnessed being given on this trip. I remember the Carmelite sisters, brothers, and lay people working tirelessly in their community to bring God’s love to homebound, the addicted, and the lonely. I am energized to know that with this trip we have even further deepened our understanding of the community and its needs, and strengthened the relationship with the Carmelites their mission. I look forward to further developing our role in building local capacity and sharing our time, expertise and concern in the most effective ways possible. Thank you all for your prayers and support.