When you are sick you go to the doctor, even if you don't have insurance you can get medical treatment if you need it. But in many third world countries, if you don't have any money you have to go without. This makes medical missions like the one the Goodness and Mercy Foundation went on a few weeks ago even more important. WTOC video journalist Barry Lewis and our Dawn Baker went with them.
Some 15,000 people live in the Ajalli village in Nigeria. They work hard, but they are very poor. When they are lucky, they make about $2 a day, but most don't make enough to eat more than one meal day. As you can imagine, paying for medicine becomes out of the question. See Mission of Mercy: Nigeria Part I.
So the yearly trips volunteers make are truly Missions of Mercy.
When doctors began treating patients, people came from as far away as five hours to see the doctors. Some walked while others caught rides. A family of three piled on to a motorcycle and rode for three hours to get help. Everyone has a story.
"They are anxious to have us know what's going on. Their body language they will get up out of their chairs and start picking up their shirts showing you parts of their body to let us know what's going on." said nurse Brenda Benton.
This is Benton's first medical mission.
"What problems are you having today?" she asks a patient. "Waist pain. Waist pain really means back."
Looking out over the clinic property, you see hundreds of people waiting. Most of them pre-registered months ago and have been eagerly awaiting this day. But others are what we would consider walk- ins. They have to start at the registration table.
A thatched hut is the main clinic where patients come to be treated. From there, they can be referred to other places on the property.
Those places include everything from family practice, pediatrics and nutrition to gynecology, eye exams, surgery or dentistry.
This is the third medical mission with the foundation for Dr. Phillip Cooper and his wife Connie. Each trip presents new challenges and learning opportunities.
"I was very surprised that the patients in Nigeria do not have the same dental problems or magnitude of dental problems that I see in the USA particularly kids. Those kids who have more access to candy here have more cavities and more problems," Dr. Cooper.
The largest crowd every day was at the eye clinic. Even though they had to wait for hours, people remained calm and patient.
"Every little thing that you do for them, they always have a smile on their face they are just so appreciative," said nurse Kathie Anderson.
Across the property, some patients were having much needed surgery. It took a lot of volunteers to make sure they got the care they needed.
"It's really chaotic and we have to make sure we have a really organized plan if not we can't really get people to flow in and out of cataract surgery as well as we'd like," Dr. Heather Hugener-Sheffield told us.
More than 50 eye surgery patients came through the doors of the clinic not even able to see light. After their surgery, they walked out on their own, many seeing for the first time in years.
"I am very thankful and I pray for them that God will bless them for remembering us in the undeveloped world. We are developing and you still put everything you have your time your money to come and see to our welfare, " said Emman Obasr.
Every day the crowds grow larger. While the volunteers work very long, hard hours and help hundreds of people who have nowhere else to turn, they must always deal with the fact that in one short week, they cannot help everyone. Josephine Enugu has lived with the enlarged goiter that looks like a grapefruit in front of her neck for the last 30 years. A translator helps her tell her story.
"Pain extends to her heart. When she takes a spittle it is very slimy. She feels like there is a cockroach inside her throat," she told us through a translator.
While volunteers could not perform her surgery during the mission, Dr. Eugene Nwosu told the volunteer group about her and we decided to adopt Josephine.
"Volunteers started pledging $100, we pledged $1,000 on the spot so we have enough money to do the surgery locally," said Dr. Nwosu.
One of the proudest moments all week was telling Josephine that her suffering would soon end, that she would soon get the operation she needed in a nearby town. She was overjoyed.
"She will be happy and she believes that she will have a longer life," her translator told us.
Before these volunteers stepped in, Josephine didn't feel like she had much of a future, but now her possibilities seem endless. Thanks to these volunteers, Josephine and so many others like her are getting vital medical care they so desperately need.
Wednesday on THE News at 6, we'll take you inside the busiest place all weeklong: the eye clinic.