Many nurses ask, why should I go on a service outreach trip in another country?
Why should I spend my time doing international service work when we have enough needs in our own country?
It wasn’t until I said yes to an international global outreach trip to the Amazon jungles of South America in 2008, that I realized the devastating need for medical and spiritual care in developing countries and how nurses and other important medical individuals could make a huge difference in areas where men, women and children are completely cut off from compassionate care. I founded Nurses for the Nations (NFTN) not only for ‘nursing participation,’ but for all members of the health-care team who wanted to work alongside nurses (as they do in the US health-care system) as an integral TEAM, to help impact change in impoverished countries.
Although the USA has pressing needs, our country has wealth, strong technology, and social systems and processes which serve to care for the needs of the poor.
In developing countries, many of those key pieces are missing. As a result, the suffering gradient is qualitatively higher, with less available supporting structures, less numbers of schooled professionals, poor technology, and limited medical care. As a result, the needs of the poor are largely unmet.
When I returned to the United States after my first medical outreach trip, I realized:
- My life would never be the same. I was deeply touched by the plight of the poor and their needs.
- The experience enriched and renewed my professional career. My medical activities took on deeper meaning and purpose in my life. I realized I was blessed beyond measure and had a responsibility to share material and spiritual blessings with others.
- I was overcome with gratitude and to individuals who supported my work when I raised donations for service outreach. My initial squeamish thoughts about asking others if they would help donate was the foundation for them to give more and to be able to help more. Raising donations to pay for the trip was much easier than I thought.
- I understood my calling as a professional could have wide-reaching implications in the world by bringing my gifts and talents and love for people to individuals who were desperate for help.
- I was able to see the results or ripple effect of the work the teams and I did almost immediately. It was very rewarding. I had a renewed sense of purpose in my career
If you are considering a service outreach trip, pray, consider the possibilities you would miss if you did not go. Then write down all the pros and cons on a piece of paper and make your decision. I believe that your ‘pro’ list will be much longer than your ‘con’ list. Mine was. My life and career changed from my experiences, and yours will too.
Join our Compassionate Revolution!