Jaclyn Gamez, a registered nurse working with BCFS’ Emergency Management Division, joined the CERI mission trip last year that traveled to the South African town of Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal. On the trip, Gamez and five team members helped build sustainable gardens and supply groceries for families in the Roseboom and Watersmeet areas just outside of Ladysmith. Gamez and crew also distributed first aid kits and prayed in the communities they served.
“Our team served many communities in the area and I know it made a difference,” says Gamez. “The neighbors came and they helped (build the gardens), and then there were neighbors that learned from the mission the year before, and so, since they knew how to build the sustainable gardens for themselves, they would help out those in the community who hadn’t done it before.”
Not only did the mission trip afford Gamez the opportunity to get help sustain a community, but she also reflected on her own life back home, seeing her professional and personal paths in a new light.
“It taught me humility,” Gamez says of her experience. “I realized how extremely faithful the South African people are, and how mentally and physically strong they are with the poverty that they face. They have nothing, and that doesn’t stop them. They are very faithful. They were grateful for everything that we did, for us being there.”
“Professionally, I learned that there was tremendous need for medical attention and education overall,” she continues. “I took first aid kits and handed them out, and the people we served had no idea, for example, what fever medicine was, or antacid… simple things that we take for granted, they were just very appreciative, very gracious.”
Gamez returned home with ten days’ worth of stories and experiences that she says will certainly shape how she approaches her life and her career. She says that a particularly moving experience that she had with a South African family is one that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.
“In that family, the father had HIV,” Gamez recalls, “and he started singing and worshipping, thanking us, and thanking the Lord. It was a really emotional moment when we were in the house that was being built for them, to see how grateful the family was.”
Just as importantly, the trip reinforced the crucial roles BCFS and CERI play at home, and abroad.
“CERI is a truly selfless organization that makes a difference around the world,” Gamez adds. “It’s a great organizations to volunteer for.”
Jaclyn Gamez, RN has worked for BCFS Health and Human Services for the last five years. She currently provides medical care at the BCFS Health and Human Services shelter in Baytown, Texas.
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