KONONGO VILLAGE, GHANA (WTOC) -The Goodness and Mercy Foundation has been making a difference bringing medical care to remote places in Africa for the last seven years.
Just a few weeks ago, the foundation made up of about 30 volunteers from Savannah, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Canada, spent a week in Konongo Village in Ghana treating patients. The group was made up of people with and without medical training.
In fact, there were as many people on this trip who had no medical training as there were with it and there was no shortage of key assignments for them to do.
Saint Joseph's/Candler CEO Paul Hinchey was one of them. Although he had no medical training, he brought that same work ethic that has landed him at the top of his profession here at home.
He worked hard all week in the eye clinic, the busiest place during the mission. He worked alongside four other volunteers all week long in the eye clinic to bring the gift of sight to Konongo Village.
"The eye clinic was slammed. They were seeing close to 300 people a day, children and elderly people. It was one right after the other and the team was absolutely fantastic and the good news is there were very few people that we had to turn away," explained Hinchey.
Even though the clinic was swamped, he took the time to tend to everyone's needs, trying to make each patient as comfortable as possible, even in the unbearable heat. He also offered a little moral support along the way.
"You just can't help but get into the people you can't divorce yourself from the personalities, the charm and the dignity of the people you're interacting with especially the children who are absolutely beautiful. If you are a parent, it just comes out, " he added.
Emelia Barry, 13, was one of them who stole his heart. She needs glasses, but she wasn't going to wear them because she didn't feel comfortable in them until she got an unexpected pep talk from her new friend.
"You can see now. Yes you can. Next year I will get you smaller glasses cause I know you don't like them because you think they're too big," Hinchey told her. "You have to wear them for just one year. I'll bring you back new cool ones."
It's his first mission, but after this unforgettable experience, Hinchey's determined it won't be his last. He hopes more doctors will join him and the foundation as they work to make a difference in Ghana and Nigeria.
"You'll actually realize why you went into medicine," he said. "There's no paperwork. There's a bond you'll make with those patients for the rest of your life."