By Sarah Bello
It’s been about a month since CMH caregiver and radiology tech Joel Bletscher returned from a two-week medical missions trip to Kenya, Africa. Bletscher’s church and a nondenominational
Christian organization, Helping Hands International, sponsored the trip, during which he, his dentist father and 10 others helped with a dental camp and other medical needs.
For three days of the trip, the group served more than 400 villagers in Kisumu during the dental camp. Bletscher mainly assisted, did injections and extracted teeth. He extracted 15 teeth in total!
“In 2015, I was approached by a friend at church who asked about traveling with a medical team to Kenya. My first thought was ‘No way,’ with how unstable the country was at the time,” Bletscher says. “I later put it into thought, prayed and made the decision to go with my dad. Dad was one of the three dentists who attended with this team.”
Bletscher says since going on the trip, he has realized how grateful he is to live in the United States. The living conditions in Kenya are rough, extremely third-world, he says, with lots of trash, condemned buildings and open sewer lines.
“The challenging thing is seeing their living conditions and corrupted government,” he says. “This is their daily routine, living in run-down shelters, bribing for cash, burning or dumping trash out in open fields and doing whatever it takes to survive. What changed me as a person is less complaining.”
Ryan Taggart, CMH CCU nurse, has been to the same area of Africa, and Bletscher says they’ve shared similar stories. When they start complaining about something, they remember their experiences in Africa and try to stop.
“The advice I would give to anyone who travels to a third-world country is to be flexible and caring, without an attitude of superiority,” Bletscher says. “I was there to share my story, to inspire and be inspired by the Kenyans.”
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