This past January term has been nothing but incredible! Although, I feel a little cheated as that could not have been a full three and a half weeks. Upon getting over the shock of our first glimpse at the blue ocean, we settled into the laid-back Bahamian style with ease. Before we could get too comfortable, we were busy touring the medical facilities on the island of New Providence. We saw more than we could have imagined and way more than we would have ever seen in a United States hospital. They even asked us if we would like to see the burn unit… we declined but were still able to meet a doctor while he was performing a wound debridement. We also were able to get the typical tourist experience, venturing off from the group to tour places like Hard Rock Café and Señor Frogs. The island of Eleuthera was quite different from New Providence and the capitol city Nassau. Far less populated, everyone knows everyone on the island. The people are so friendly that at times you wondered what they actually wanted from you. Turns out, that’s just the way they are! At the island school we snorkeled, went scuba diving, jumped off High Rock, watched sharks feed at the marina, learned to identify fish, took navy showers, didn’t flush the toilet enough, partied late at night with cockroaches, ruined “waterproof” cameras, kayaked to what felt like Florida and back and met some incredible people. All the while we had a many chances to soak up the sunshine. It really felt like there was an adventure around every corner.
Our education in the schools was more rewarding for us than it ever could have been for the students. We met kids of all different ages and provided them with information about diabetes. We gave them tips to stay healthy and tried to keep the mood light (although we did threaten them with complications of diabetes like blindness, kidney failure, amputations, etc.). We learned a lot about the disease through our presentations and how it is unique in the Bahamas. The food is fantastic, but could use a little work to make it healthier. All of our work with the disease culminated in the community wellness fair that we put on at the local market. We were able to screen around 60 individuals, testing their blood sugar, blood pressure, BMI, body composition, height, weight and grip strength. It was a huge success and exemplified the support that we gained from the community during our time.
The people that we met along the way were so inspirational and supportive of our cause. We could not have done what we did without them. Some helped us out around the Island School and others welcomed us into their homes for a weekend. No matter what they did for us, everyone we met was always genuinely friendly and helpful. This made me take a closer look at myself and the way that I treat others—I aspire to be more open as the Bahamians are. There is a lot that I will take from my experiences in the Bahamas, specifically in South Eleuthera. I am blessed to have had such an amazing experience in such a beautiful place.