Volunteer opportunities across globe through local mission

Some people have a summer internship, and some people go to Latin America.

But Elizabeth Bauman’s trip was no vacation. A junior nursing student, Bauman spent July 18 to 25 in the Dominican Republic to volunteer at a clinic. The trip was organized by Missions.Me, a nongovernmental organization that sets up mission trips.

Bauman was one of about 2,000 volunteers who went on the trip. She was part of the medical team, registering patients and taking vital signs at the entrance of a sports-stadium-turned-clinic.

The clinic offered everything from check-ups to medical attention for patients with specific complaints. There were also dentists and a pharmacy.

Volunteers of all ability levels were welcomed and given a job. Bauman had only completed one semester of nursing school before going on the trip and learned a lot because she got to work with one of the doctors.

“He was very engaged in my learning and the patient,” she said.

The most rewarding part was how appreciative everyone was, Bauman said. The clinic also had a relaxed atmosphere — people didn’t complain about the long lines.

One of Bauman’s favorite memories was when a 7-year-old boy found out that it was her birthday on July 22. He got everyone in the waiting area to sing “Happy Birthday” in English and Spanish, whichever the patients knew.

Bauman made connections for her future career and found a new passion.

“I definitely want to try traveling with nursing,” she said and has been researching her options.

Bauman said she would recommend a trip like this one to anyone, or at least international travel. She said it made her appreciate the small things she has.

The mission that Bauman was involved in was called 1Nation1Day. Volunteers could work for the medical clinic, as missionaries or on the media team.

According to the 1Nation1Day website, they built homes, dug wells, donated shoes, provided medical care and trained community leaders. 

The first 1Nation1Day mission was in Honduras in 2013. Another one is planned for 2017, but the location has not yet been chosen.

In the off-years, Missions.Me organized smaller missions in different countries. This year, volunteers will go to Honduras to host an event for women, set up a medical clinic in Nicaragua and build homes in India and Nepal for orphanages and human trafficking victims, Gabe Bahlhorn, chief communications officer at Missions.Me, said.

According to its website, “Missions.Me empowers people to change the world.”

While a couple thousand volunteers can’t change an entire country, they can instill hope, Bahlhorn said.

“There are moments that we believe will change the trajectory of your life,” he said. 

Missions.Me hopes to foster those moments.

“In the very bedrock of everyone, there’s a desire to help people,” Bahlhorn said. “There’s something that changes the heart.”

Rachel Taylor works on the media relations team at Missions.Me and went on the trip to the Dominican Republic. She was on the missions team, working to bring hope to citizens.

Law enforcement and translators were with the volunteers at all times, and participants stayed in a hotel and were given three meals.

Taylor keeps in touch with the translators and found the experience fulfilling.

“Even though we’re a team of 2,000 people, we were able to reach nearly half a million people in one week,” she said.

Missions.Me was founded in 2004 and has since hosted missions in countries across the globe, according to its website. It is a religion-based organization, but anyone can volunteer. For ways to get involved, check out their website at missions.me.