By Lydell Lettsome, MD
When you think of a mission to help those less fortunate in other countries, you may have preconceived misconceptions about what they entail. Especially when you watch infomercials that typically give a sense that missions are almost always organized by white Christians traveling far and wide to spread the gospel to poor peoples around the world. However, this “Bread & Bible” concept is often no longer the case.
One of the most rewarding experiences outside of my practice as a General Surgeon has been my involvement in the Dorcas Medical Mission. For the past 3 years, I have volunteered with the team to provide free medical and surgical care to impoverished communities in St. Lucia, Dominica, Ghana and West Africa.
In the Bible, within the Book of Acts, “Dorcas” is understood as a missionary who gave what she had to those in need. Founded by Mrs. Lorna Mullings, wife of Dr. Sidley Mullings, Bishop of Rugby Deliverance Tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York, the Dorcas Medical Mission has set out to emulate the good work and charitable deeds of that biblical missionary for the past 7 years.
On average, it can cost between $3,200-$5,000 to send a doctor to the Caribbean or Africa for a week. However, through public and private donations of medication and supplies, the Dorcas Medical Mission is able to fund medical missions to places and peoples that are truly in need. All care and medications are dispensed completely free of charge without any requirement of religious participation. Each doctor or volunteer also pays up to half of their own expenses for each mission.
An individual mission consists of 80-100 members including doctors, nurses, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and missionaries, and can last from a week to 10 days. Private free clinics are set up in rural parts of each country offering free health care and in Caribbean countries, free food and clothing is even distributed. In a week’s time, 3500-4000 people can receive health care on a Caribbean mission. On an African Mission, 6000-8000 patients can receive care.
Over the past two years, Dorcas Medical Mission launched a surgical division where we successfully performed over 150 procedures abroad; including hysterectomies, thyroidectomies, inguinal and venereal hernia repairs, as well as minor procedures such as lipoma removals and breast biopsies.
Dorcas has also improved the lives of our brothers and sisters abroad in other notable ways. The mission received the Arise and Walk Ministries’ International Missions Award in 2004 and, in 2005, received an award from the government and people of St Lucia for meritorious service. Last year; the mission sponsored the building of a well in a village outside of Accra, Ghana. In the fall of 2005, a response team was dispatched to areas of the Gulf Coast that were stricken by Hurricane Katrina.
Most recently, the Mullings Ministries Charitable Corporation has bought land and buildings in South Africa that they are hoping to turn into an orphanage in the near future, and in Spring 2008, we look toward the next mission in Guyana and Ghana, West Africa. It has truly been both an honor and a privilege to serve our global community and if you would like more information on how you can help support the Dorcas Medical Mission, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations may be written to Mullings Ministries Charitable Corp. 4901 Snyder Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203. For further information call (718) 342-5720 or e-mail email@example.com.
Board-Certified Dr. Lettsome is the Director of General Surgery for Lexington Plastic Surgeons and the Director for the Breast Health Clinic at Interfaith Medical Center. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org