HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – A group of Vincennes University nursing students, alumni and faculty traveled to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip this spring to serve the local community and provide medical aid to those in need.

Nurses on a Mission volunteered at an orphanage and distributed hundreds of care kits with hygiene items, donated medicine and paid for a doctor to treat patients.

The trip was eye-opening for the team of 20 individuals, including the nurses, a pharmacist and physical therapy assistants from the community.

VU students gave up their spring break to help better the lives of others.

VU nursing major Kelsey Howard of Odon, Indiana never realized how much of a difference she and others could make in the lives of people who have so little. She called it humbling.

“I gained more confidence in myself and some new acquaintances,” she said. “I feel good about myself being able to help those that were in desperate need of medical care.”

Nurses on a Mission was founded by five VU nursing faculty in 2014 who felt a calling to do global cross-cultural nursing and provide services and medical care in severely impoverished countries. The volunteers have made eight trips to the Dominican Republic, partnering with the Foundation of Peace.

“We invite VU nursing students to join us, as volunteers, on the annual trip,” VU nursing professor Mistene Halter said. “Students are immersed in cross-cultural nursing and have the opportunity to enhance many of their nursing skills. They conduct physical assessments, provide health education, provide hygiene supplies and provide medications for common ailments under the supervision of VU nursing faculty and Dominican physicians. We have had several VU nursing graduates attend the trip for the first time as a student, and then they have returned with us on multiple trips over the years.”

During the recent trip, the group learned about the challenges by the local community. A family had one toothbrush for the entire household, now each has their own.

VU chemistry professor Dr. Ivana Peralta was a translator for Nurses on a Mission during the trip. She was struck by the resilience and determination of the people they served.

“Despite the many challenges they face, they have a strong sense of community and a willingness to help each other,” she said.

VU College of Health Services and Human Performance Dean Michelle Cummins spoke about the importance of the trip.

“At Vincennes University, we believe in developing our students into responsible global citizens who are committed to making a positive impact in the world,” she said. “This trip was an opportunity for our students to live out that mission and make a real difference in the lives of those who need it most.”

Halter echoed the same sentiment.

“VU students and faculty gave up their spring break to help others. They are rewarded with a global education and a better understanding of the world around us. This not only changed the lives of the families we served but also enhanced the lives of those who volunteered to serve.”