ATSU students put compassion into action for people of Haiti
Hearts all over the world went out to the people of Haiti during January’s earthquake, and like many people, ATSU students wondered what they could do to help.
First-year biomedical sciences student Aaron Frey had participated in missions since high school and was turned to by many of his fellow classmates who asked if a mission trip might be possible. Frey, who had visited Haiti before to lend aid, agreed to explore the trip but had his doubts. Such trips take time to plan – and require money to put into action.
Nevertheless, through a friend in Haiti, Frey connected with Nehemiah Vision Ministry. And although the Christian mission organization never had hosted medical students, it nervously agreed to a mission that, in the end, worked out “fabulously,” says Frey. In fact, because of its success and popularity with students, future trips are in discussion.
[cincopa 10611951]Frey, who hadn’t participated in mission trips for a few years, was grateful for the outpouring of support for the trip, as well as the opportunity to once again get involved. The trips, he says, are a passion. “Once I got started, I couldn’t let myself stop.”
Phil and Mandy Wanzek also wanted to help, and Phil was among the nine ATSU students who made the trip. “As soon as I heard about it, something just clicked in me, and I wanted to go,” says the second-year medical student. The earthquake brought the tiny island to their attention, and after researching Haiti with their 10-yearold twin girls, “brought it home to us.”
With only six weeks to plan their trip, Frey enlisted Mandy Wanzek’s help with fundraising and collecting physical donations such as infant formula, toothbrushes, and vitamins, which the ATSU community voraciously supported. In six weeks, the group raised $8,000.
“This experience, besides being amazing spiritually, educationally, and personally, was also incredibly moving because of the KCOM family and the osteopathic family who rallied around it,” Mandy Wanzek says.
As a result of that outpouring, each student’s personal financial responsibility of $1,800 was cut in half to $900. Each student, who left March 13 and returned March 20, carried two totes of donations in their hands and what they would need personally on their backs. They saw 1,300 patients in four days.
Phil Wanzek, a medic for 18 months in Afghanistan, found himself in a leadership role because of his experience working in less-than-ideal conditions with limited supplies.
The experience, he says, did something else in addition to helping others. “It complemented my education. It made me really sure I want to be here. There is a light at the end of the books.”
For his daughters, he was able to show them the need that people experience and why we should help.
“I hope they learned that it may be taxing on the family and self, but worth the sacrifice. Sometimes, other people’s needs become your own, and you are rewarded in the end.”