Our famous experienced canners returned to Jamaica again this winter to see how our mothers and staff were doing in canning food since last year. All of our canners from the States were pleasantly surprised to find not only was canning going well, but our ladies had branched out into making preserves.
As the week began, everyone who canned last year got to open their jars from a year ago and prepare for lunch at the Campus. Part of the canning program is not just about canning meats and soups and vegetables but also demonstrating how these sealed jars can last a year or more on a shelf inside a home that doesn’t have air conditioning or refrigeration. Many of our Jamaicans had raised eyebrows as they wondered if the chicken they canned a year ago would be good to eat.
Carefully and methodically, the cans were opened and the food heated and put in with the rice. It was funny to watch as each National waited on the other one to eat first. Of course, our American counterparts dove in and then, everything was okay! Lots of food, lots of laughter and lots of sharing all week in between the new canning. Thank you, ladies, for making a great concept for Jamaica come alive at the Campus.
Last week, ACE was asked to attend an award ceremony in Kingston hosted by the Local Government for the Poor. ACE received the award for all of St. Mary for our consistent commitment and service to the people of St. Mary Infirmary.
This was such a surprise, since we don’t think of it as serving the underserved but rather spending time with those we love. ACE is at the infirmary three or more days a week, 52 weeks a year, with or without volunteers. Through your generosity, ACE has given to date 4,967 adult diapers and 200 bed chux to the infirmary to ensure the residents’ needs are taken care of.
This year alone, ACE brought 5,460 meals of patties, hot soup, and specialty items. We have taken 25 – 40 residents at a time on 32 mind stimulation and physical therapy field trips, including Galina Breeze pool parties, afternoons at the beach, craft activities and dance classes in the park. We shave, we cut hair, we clean, we help the staff, we spend time with the residents… we simply love them. They are family to us.
We are grateful to receive an acknowledgement from the government, but we already know in our hearts that this is where we need to be, and we thank the infirmary residents for rewarding us every day.
We are also proud to report that through ACE, 8,229 dental/medical/chiropractic patients have been seen and treated. This includes patients from the government clinics in rural St. Mary as well as our own Wellness Center located in the Llanrumney commercial building. There are now lots of healthy people walking around with pulled teeth, clear lungs, lower blood pressure, and overall wellness.
We’ve got a great update for you regarding Mr. Byrd and Ashley’s sight challenges.
ACE took Mr. Byrd and Ashley to a private specialist in Kingston to find out what we could do to help them see better. Mr. Byrd was diagnosed with glaucoma. With him being in his 80’s, most of his sight cannot be restored; however, he is being given drops each day to help him at least maintain what sight he has.
He is so grateful – and did I mention, on the trip back from Kingston, we stopped in his home town so he could say hello to everyone? We think that did more healing than the drops! ACE will continue to supply him with the expensive drops available only through private pharmacies.
Ashley received her special glasses. This little girl is a super star! While her vision is a “born” challenge, the glasses are compensating for the loss of sight. Ashley is so surprised to see leaves on trees!! Imagine, all your life, just seeing big blobs of things and not details. And life really is in the details.
Thank you, friends, for stepping up to this challenge of helping those that cannot help themselves.
Most of you know about the wellness side of ACE. It’s one of the four impact areas of ACE where we focus on physical wellness in our communities. This month was extra special as we had some old friends of ACE return with Buckie the Tooth Giraffe. They performed fluoride treatments in our primary schools and our newest partner, Edge Hill, our special needs school. What a great time! Dr. Frank, a former Chairman of ACE, returned with his brother Dr. Bill and their dental team to work non-stop at our Wellness Center using the new equipment a friend donated earlier this year. “The new dental chairs and units are fantastic!” was the general comment by all. The week ended with over 400 students being treated with fluoride and over 190 community friends served in the chairs.
While the dentists were busy filling and extracting teeth, the medical side of our wellness initiative was taking on other challenges, both inside and outside our wellness center. Dr. David and Dr. Alice from Trinity On The Hill and their team saw and treated over 100 community friends daily. With water supply being low in the areas where the doctors were working, it took a lot of extra effort to make it work. It makes us feel great when we have such continued support, especially when we see our numbers for extended care in the districts actually go down as a result of continued care.
Thank you to Trinity, Dr. David, Dr. Frank and all the workers and providers that gave their time away from home to help us in Jamaica this fall.
What do these two Jamaicans have in common?
Well, yes, they are Jamaican-born, and, yes, they live in St. Mary, but the greatest fact they have in common is a desire to see clearly.
That’s right, Rasta (as they call him) checked himself into the St. Mary Infirmary a year ago. Due to an accident while he was a caretaker for Castleton Gardens nearby, he could not see anymore. Rasta loved landscaping, and when the man he had worked for died some years ago, Rasta still felt it was his duty to keep things looking nice at the property. Unfortunately, one day while working, something “jute” his eye causing him to lose his vision. The lady who lived there took care of him, but when she passed, Rasta decided to come to the infirmary until he could recover – and he is still there.
The little girl’s name is Ashley Gray. She is in our Child Sponsorship program. This little sweetie just wants to learn. School is her place to be, but she has a hard time getting around or seeing the chalkboard, even in the front row. Everyone had their own idea of what is wrong, but until Saskia and D’Vaun brought it up in a staff meeting, it was all speculation. Saskia (our ACE administrator who adopted a little girl of her own two years ago) mentioned that we should consider taking this child to a specialist in Kingston for a total eye examination to determine the next step.
So, Marla received the okay from Ashley’s family as well as the permission of the Infirmary Management – we finally got the whole story from Rasta as to where he was from and who to contact – and soon, we will be setting up a day-trip to Kingston for both of our friends. We don’t know what the news will be once they are examined by an eye specialist, but we have to try to help. Here’s where you come in: would you like to help us help restore sight to the Rasta and to Ashley.
Once we find out the diagnosis, we will then make a decision to proceed with the best course of action. If you feel called to help us finance these two friends, please contact our office via email or phone (Monday through Friday) to let us know. Sometimes, it’s just stepping up to assist that makes a difference of a lifetime to those who struggle for hope.
What did the Blind man say in John 9:25? The man who had been blind said to them, “I do not know if He is a sinner or not. One thing I know. I was blind, but now I can see.”
Think about it, pray about……. and ACT.
Through the great generosity of a dentist in Augusta, Georgia, ACE Wellness Center now has its own two dental units. If you have ever been serving as part of our specialty teams within our ACE family, you will know that for years, we have had our dentists using cardboard and regular chairs to see and treat patients in clinics. Can you imagine pulling teeth and sitting in a chair?
Well, Dr. Scott saw the need and sent us two brand new units to install at the Center where ACE is will be seeing families from all three nearby locations. As our team of doctors and dentists arrive they will be pleasantly surprised by what ACE has to offer them to assist in their desire to serve our Jamaica friends. ACE will be working with the main Dental School in Kingston to begin a partnership of “JAmericans” serving in Rural St. Mary. Pray the partership develops and events happen. Stay tuned for more on that topic.
It’s true! American Caribbean Experience is thirty years old this year! For some of us, that’s a scary thought – when the ministry grows up, the founder grows older. Regardless of the aging process, life is very good for all of the hard workers God has used to get us to this point. We hope that the passing years have produced wisdom in understanding God’s heart so we can continue to meet the needs of the Jamaican community He has assigned us to serve.
We’ve said this many times before, but turning thirty reminds all of us that ACE only works well in meeting the spiritual, physical and mental needs of the many when volunteers are committed to long-term investment. As a ministry called to help in a developing country like Jamaica, we are very aware how God has used our U.S. and Canadian volunteers to assist us in work where we need the help most – working alongside our National families. Your time and support have sustained us for decades, and we thank you!
It’s going to be a fantastic year! ACE is celebrating with a big event in the U.S. (more to come)! We will see the beginning of some long-awaited programs that have been announced in the past and are now coming into play. We have new faces, new talent, and the same great attitude our staff and friends have had for these thirty years, so celebrate with us! When a wonderful ACE memory comes to mind, share it with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We would love to hear from you!
Thirty years doesn’t sound that old – we think we are good for another thirty! And we hope you’ll stay along for the ride!
Feeling younger everyday –
Marla and Allen
ACE Healthcare is one of the four strategic areas that support the ACE Mission. We partner with the Ministry of Health and local community heath care workers to provide primary care to St. Mary. Katie Guy serves as the boots-on-the-ground Healthcare Coordinator, and she helps support the medical and dental teams before, during and after their trips.
As with all of ACE’s efforts, we strive to look at the whole person. Of the seven teams that have served in St. Mary this past year, we have had over 2,000 patient visits. Our patients have received medical, dental, chiropractic and optical services. Providing medicines to treat acute and chronic conditions is a unique blessing our teams provide. So far in 2017, over 6,000 prescriptions have been filled. Focusing on prevention, over 1000 fluoridation treatments were performed in the schools this year.
We focus on the healing power of the Holy Spirit and make prayer a priority as we serve. As a result, many decisions for Christ have been made; Katie, Sister Marie and Pastor Jones have made follow up visits to new believers and disciple them as they find a church home. 2017 saw the first patients to be seen in our own Green Life Wellness Center. Generous help from volunteers have transformed the once barren office building to a warm inviting place. The center now houses our pharmacy in a climate-controlled room as well as a large waiting are, five exam rooms and a dental/surgical area. Recently, we have acquired used equipment in Jamaica, as well as items from sources in the US.
As we look forward to 2018, we continue to network and develop teams from all over the US. We are always looking for willing servants from all aspects of the healing arts. Dentists are an emergency need for us right now. We have medical equipment in the US that needs to be shipped to Jamaica, and we are praying for the most efficient way to ship and clear customs in Jamaica. We are currently searching for a physician to be a continuous presence at the Green Life Wellness Center. Please continue to pray for all these needs to be met.
On behalf of the ACE Board of Directors, I would like to thank all the volunteers and the ACE staff that support the Healthcare ministry. Your loving service expresses Christ’s love to others and opens the door to discipleship.
Steve Guy MD
Board of Directors
While the medical students from Wright State came to give and learn, our Jamaican community and Galina Breeze Hotel treated these future doctors with much culture and love. These twelve students from Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine came and served at seven different clinics throughout the parish of St. Mary.
The service didn’t stop at the clinic sites! These students were busy counting pills each evening and helping move our pharmacy over to the Green Life Wellness Center. They were a huge help! We are one step closer to the Wellness Center being up and running full time. We are so grateful that Wright State, under the Direction of Dr. Tom Herchline, has helped the Ministry of Health see and treat many of our rural clinics throughout St. Mary.
My favorite movie of all time is Mary Poppins – in full color, of course! Some of you who know me might not be surprised as I love work, organization, and using wide imagination to help the “medicine go down”!
As ACE grows closer to our 30th year of presence and outreach in Jamaica, it seems the colors of ACE are not only permanent but vibrant as if it was the first day spent on this beautiful island. You read about our seasoned medical/dental teams being recognized by name from our community healthcare locations. Smiles as teeth get cleaner with less “pullings” and more “savings” through fillings and fluoride. Sugar checks and eye glasses to see better makes seeing an ACE Healthcare volunteer a happy moment in time.
This is where long term commitment pays off in the ACE world. So many volunteers leave their personal concerns and needs at home, to join other professionals in St. Mary clinics and schools. Treating, coaching, training, and praying for students, patients, mothers, and the elderly who truly need a moment of time and care — that’s what ACE Healthcare is all about.
Thank you, long-time committers, for not making ACE another “Poverty Tourism” stop in the passport book but rather a date every year with Nationals who have grown to love you for your long-term stake in their Parish and location. We, too, have something to smile about.