Eight Collegedale Academy students and three CA alumni joined faculty member Jennifer Marquez and her husband, Dr. Marquez, on a medical mission trip to Colombia over their Christmas break, .
The goals of this trip included providing quality medical care for an underserved population, giving students the opportunity to experience hands-on medical experience and witnessing and ministering to others.
“This mission trip offered an amazing chance to help others with the added benefit of experiencing a new culture and country.
Celebrating Christmas by volunteering in a medical clinic was something I will always remember. I became friends with citizens of another country and strengthened my friendship with my own peers. I could definitely see God working in our team and Colombia,” said Daniel Kuhlman, senior, class of 2020 and SA president.
Prior to leaving for the trip, the CA students spent 10 hours training before going out to serve. Additionally, they also spent three-four hours helping pack all of the medical supplies. The group flew from Atlanta to Cartagena, Colombia on Dec. 21. After settling in for a night of rest, the next day the work began.
After an eight-hour bus ride to Guaranda, Sucre, the group set up the clinic to prepare for the busy days ahead. The clinic ran for three days to serve the local citizens. The students took vitals, tested blood glucose levels, performed urinalysis, assisted in procedures and helped in the pharmacy when needed.
Students were able to help remove a growth from a middle-school-aged boy. The growth made an impact on his life, as others would tease him. The procedure significantly reduced the abnormality.
An older gentleman had a growth removed from under his eye that was impairing his vision. He was so happy that he cried and thanked the students and physicians repeatedly.
“This is the first mission trip I have ever been to and I am so glad that I was involved. I am interested in medicine and very passionate about helping people. I am surprised at how people reacted so thankfully when we provided them with medical support. I made up my mind to be a good doctor in the future. There are many things I need to learn and there are many people that need help, but through God everything is possible. Also, I made lots of great memories during the trip,” said Felicia Ju, sophomore, class of 2022.
On the last day of clinic, Christmas day, the team finished about two hours earlier than the other days and headed out to a farm, which they thought looked like it was straight out of National Geographic.
On the 26th of December, the group was back on the bus headed to Cartagena. Once in Cartagena, they visited the old city (almost 500 years old), the fort and a beautiful white sand beach. By Dec. 29, everyone arrived home tired, but happy.
“What a blessing it was to provide health care for others; the trip goals were accomplished,” said Mrs. Marquez. “These kids worked hard and gave up their Christmas to serve others. To say that I am impressed by them is just the start of an essay I could give on them.”
The team was made up of these Collegedale Academy students:
Aubrey Farrow, junior, class of 2021
Daelynn Hopkins, junior, class of 2021
Felicia Ju, sophomore, class of 2022
Daniel Kuhlman, senior, class of 2020
Shawn Raza, junior, class of 2021
Giovanni Reed, junior, class of 2021
Bryden Spears, junior, class of 2021
Emma Wilham, junior, class of 2021
The Collegedale Academy students were joined by CA alumni Maison Baldwin, Eric Marquez and Megan Marquez, who all have experience in medical mission trips. Dr. Marquez, family friend Erin Davidson, nurse practitioner Marlee Tevis and pharmaceutical representative Steve Wilham were also pivotal to the needs met in Colombia, officials said.
Megan Marquez summed up the experience on her Instagram post, “Best Christmas present ever.”