Caregivers’ compassion reaches people far beyond the Black Hills
Children don’t need to speak the same language in order to play a game of soccer. Kids are kids and people are people, whether you can understand them or not. And one thing that’s recently become clearer for Bonnie Warejcka is that we need to take care of one another.
Bonnie, a coder at the John T. Vucurevich Cancer Care Institute (CCI), went on a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico, with her church in July that changed her life. Her group built a home for a family in need and really got to know the people during her weeklong stay. “It was beyond what I ever dreamed,” she said. “It was so rewarding because the people we helped were so grateful. They didn’t have much at all, but they still cooked us meals and always made sure we had drinks.”
That same week, Jan Lowe, Pharmacy Supervisor at CCI, was 2,500 miles southeast of Tijuana in Guatemala for a different mission trip. Her group visited impoverished villages in the heart of the jungle, planting around 50 fruit trees, playing games with children and manually mixing and pouring a cement floor for one family’s home. Families who live in homes with dirt floors are more susceptible to diseases, so the cement floor “completely changed their world” according to Jan.
While the natural Guatemalan environment harbors fruit and other foods, most families don’t have access to it because it is heavily exported. Additionally, families don’t often make it out of their village for groceries since travel is difficult, so their diets are nutritionally lacking. Most children eat just one meal a day. The fruit trees from Jan’s group have given those families regular access to food.
Jan said the trip opened her eyes to the conditions in which a lot of people in this world live. “There were a lot of children there who needed help. They have a rough life ahead of them, so at least I was able to spend time with them and show them they are valued and make them smile for a few days.”
One girl in particular really enjoyed Jan’s company. “I will never forget the way she just held on to me and didn’t let go. “I didn’t want to let her go either.” The experience they shared will remain with both of them until the next time Jan visits. She plans to go on another trip in a few years. In the meantime, her group is supporting a young man from the area who is pursuing his education.
In the days leading up to her trip, Bonnie was increasingly anxious about the safety of the region due to things she heard on the news. At one point, she was so nervous that she wasn’t sure she could go. But because she overcame those feelings, she was able to set forth on what she said was the most amazing experience she’s had in her life. Thank you to those who extend our priority of positively impacting our communities to far beyond the Black Hills of South Dakota.