June 19, 2019 10:11 am
Anika Phillips is a longtime registered nurse with deep roots in Idaho. For 18 years she has been a nurse in Saltzer Health’s two Nampa Quick Care clinics where she treats patients.
“I love being a nurse and I love serving,” she said.
Three years ago, Phillips had a life-changing experience on the other side of the world. She joined a team of Idaho volunteers on a medical mission to Africa coordinated by Expansion International, a Boise-based Christian not-for-profit organization dedicated to working with children and families to holistically transform communities in Kenya.
In 2016, a team of nurses, physicians and other volunteers visited three villages where they served 1,800 patients in two weeks. Phillips’ oldest son, then 16, accompanied her to Africa.
In the medical tents, the volunteers provided free treatments for infections, rashes, parasites, wounds and diseases. Phillips partnered with Kenyan nurses and provided patient education, assessed health needs and performed procedures such as wound care, IVs, surgical interventions and triage.
The mission trip also included non-denominational spiritual programs in partnership with Kenyan ministers. Activities for kids and teens included puppet and mime shows and games. They also dug water line ditches with shovels and pick axes and helped to build brick homes.
Phillips was deeply moved by some of her patients. She recalls treating a 24-year-old mother with a 2-year-old baby. A dressmaker, the young woman suffered from back pain. She was mourning the loss of another child to jaundice when her husband abandoned the family.
“She was carrying the whole world on her shoulders,” Phillips said. “Being a nurse allowed me to use my interpersonal communication skills to build understanding, commonality and compassion across cultural lines.”
Phillips is grateful to have been on two mission trips and be able to share what she learned back in Idaho. She developed a new perspective about the health needs of the Treasure Valley community including patients from other cultures: Ukranian, Romanian, African and Mexican. And she further honed her listening skills to better empathize with her patients and understand their healthcare needs and social situations.
In October, Phillips is pleased to join another medical mission trip to Kenya. Her youngest son will travel with the team to provide medical care in 3 villages and open a medical clinic in one. They will sleep in a local church and spend daylight hours treating patients.
Phillips hopes that by sharing her experience that other ordinary people in our Treasure Valley will do extraordinary things by serving others locally, nationally or internationally. “When we serve others, we fill our own soul with such goodness.” Phillips is confident that the trip will build goodwill and better understanding. “When we are aware of different cultures and on the front line, we learn from each other,” she said. “Sometimes we make things too complicated. It is very simple actually. Love one another.”
To learn more about Expansion International, see http://expansioninternational.org/.
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