Area volunteers to help Jamaicans

Monday, April 14, 2003

When the 39 volunteers from Southeast Missouri arrive in Carron Hall, Jamaica, next week, 3,000 pounds of supplies and hundreds of patients will be waiting.

The volunteers represent 15 congregations in the area and include nurses, respiratory therapists, a pediatrician, optometry students, a dentists and dozens of others willing to give up a week's vacation to help people in need.

"We go because we love these people and they love us," said the Rev. Loren Boettcher, a retired pastor. "I wouldn't be surprised to see long lines of people waiting there for us, so we've got to go."

Because the people who come to the clinic don't receive regular medical care, the team will see complaints ranging from broken bones to complications related to diabetes. So the team sets up a triage area and offers them medical, dental and vision checkups.

Carron Hall is in a remote, mountainous region of Jamaica, and the group will spend six hours driving to the area after arriving in Montego Bay. The medial mission team works with a native pastor who tells his congregations about the trip and encourages them to visit the clinic.

But none of the work could be done without the generosity of people here, said Dorinda Abbott, an organizer.

"It's amazing what people will give," she said.

Already, 3,000 pounds of supplies -- from wheelchairs, leg braces and eyeglasses to donated clothing and toiletry items -- have been crated and shipped to Jamaica. And more will be carried in suitcases and luggage.

The team uses storage space in a Cape Girardeau building owned by Dr. Scott Gibbs to house its extra supplies between visits. The medial mission recently received a $5,000 grant from the United Church of Christ denomination to help pay for construction on a permanent clinic in Carron Hall. Another $10,000 is needed to fund the entire project.

This is the third trip for the team.

Donations are still being accepted. Call Evangelical United Church of Christ at 335-5611 or Dorinda Abbott at 334-7894 for more information.

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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