WHITE OAK — For Nicole Mock, a big bucket list item was checked off recently when she was part of a team to visit Kenya on a medical mission trip.
The trip, which was organized through KenyaRelief.org, focused on providing GYN and general surgery care for the people of that region. It fit perfectly in with Mock’s skills, since she is a certified registered nurse anesthetist with Cape Fear Valley/Bladen Healthcare.
“I found KenyaRelief.org during my search for medical mission teams requesting anesthesia providers,” she said. “Kenya Relief has an orphanage, a school, and a medical/surgical clinic. KR hosts about 15 teams a year, on 11-12 day trips for various tasks; including surgery, infrastructure building, vacation bible school, etc. I chose to participate with KR because of the proven history of the organization and the goal of our particular team.”
Mock, who traveled with her friend Lisa Kimrey, a nurse from Charlotte, was part of a team that was No. 14 for the year. She was one of more than 20 medical professionals from all over the United States and included CRNAs, surgeons, nurses, a respiratory therapist, a physician’s assistant, a couple of students, and a few non-medical people. While there, she said she was able to learn some interesting things.
“While there I learned that the average distance traveled by our patients was 98 miles (by foot, donkey, or mopeds on very poor dirt roads); the average wait time was 48 hours; many patients slept outside the clinic waiting for the arrival of our team and for the chance to be treated,” she said.
After a 23-hour flight and seven-hour van ride, Mock and the team finally arrived in Migori, Kenya, where surgeons completed 20-22 surgical procedures and others treated countless patients for primary care over three days.
“The people of Kenya received us with great hospitality and warmth,” Mock said. “We attended church while there and the local congregation prayed over our team for success, safety, and the health of our patients.
“The poverty in Kenya is extreme,” she added. “Even the poorest in America are far richer. It was moving to see the daily struggles of the people and children of Kenya. People there have little to no food, clothing, or shelter. Many children are orphaned due to illnesses that are easily treated in America. Some children are left to fend for themselves, not having extended family to take them in. One cannot go there and return unchanged by what they witness.”
With her first international mission trip under her belt, Mock is left with many fond memories.
“One that stands out is when we went with the staff of Brittney’s Home of Grace orphanage to visit a family in the area who had two children that will be coming to stay,” she explained. “The dad of this family had passed away leaving the mom and four children. The mom is very sick and is not expected to survive. There is not enough room at the orphanage to accept all four children (so) the two oldest will be left. These children live in a mud hut and sleep on the ground of the hut. What little clothes they have are literally shreds. Unfortunately, their story is quite common.
“This trip really drove home the realization that only one quarter of the world is developed,” Mock continued. “The rest of the world lives day to day in these struggles. One of my fellow travelers said, ‘Americans really have won the lottery of life’ … so true.
“This trip was so rewarding in many ways,” she said. “I’ve made new friends, seen new places, experienced other cultures, and come away with a more complete understanding of the circumstances of those outside the U.S.”
Mock said she plans to return to Kenya in 2018, as well as sponsoring a child at Brittney’s Home of Grace along with her husband.
Mock is the daughter of Cecelia Davis and granddaughter of Cecil and Hallie McClure — all of White Oak. After several years working in Raleigh, Mock and her husband also live in White Oak.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at email@example.com.