Caribbean News

United States-Based Jamaican Gives Back Through Medical Mission

Montego Bay, July 3, 2019 – Jamaica – Scores of St. James residents converged at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre to take advantage of the services that were provided by the Feed the Fight Breast Cancer Charity’s International Cancer and Medical Mission Health Fair.

The event, which was held on June 28, enabled persons to access several key services.  These included paediatric care, eye care, blood pressure checks, pap smears, mammograms, prostate screenings, and physical checks for the elderly.

The organisation’s founder, Yvonne Dunkley, who is a Jamaican based in the United States (US) city of Atlanta, says the mission resulted from a need identified to administer mammograms and other medical services to persons who were unable to afford them.

Ms. Dunkley, a breast cancer survivor, says consequent on her experience with the illness, she wanted to give back to the people of her home country.  She notes that during her illness, she reflected on her fellow Jamaicans having a similar experience, and wondered how they were coping. This, she adds, paved the way for the organisation’s genesis.

“I wanted to help others, especially in my country. So I came home in 2013 and started to sensitize persons [about breast cancer] in the rural areas, because I noticed that they were the persons who did not have as much information as they should; and so I started a charity here,” Ms. Dunkley tells JIS News.

She informs that the organisation comprises volunteers from Jamaica, the US and United Kingdom (UK), adding that the group includes her four daughters.  She further says that the charity initiates medical missions in other Caribbean countries as well the UK.

Ms. Dunkley notes that several women attending the fair, who sought to access mammogram services, did so with referrals from their doctors.  This, she adds, was mainly due to their inability to afford the ultrasound, pointing out that these persons were sent directly to the surgeon for the requisite procedures, where necessary.  

Mammograms were conducted for a small fee, which goes towards raising funds for future missions and purchasing medical supplies. All other services were delivered free of cost.

General Surgeon, Dr. Karlene Sinclair, who was tasked with conducting onsite biopsies, tells JIS News that volunteering with the mission was her way of giving back to her country.

“I am a Jamaican by birth; I lived here until I went off to college [overseas]. My aim is to do what I can… for my fellow countrymen and -women,” she says.

Meanwhile, patrons of the health fair have lauded the organisers of the initiative, citing it as a necessity.

Repeat patron, Rosalee Barrett, who has had hypertension-related health issues, says through the initiative, “I was able to get my mammogram and other [tests] done and I am thankful”.

“I have known Ms. Dunkley for many years and the work that she is doing is wonderful [as it] helps people like me and many others,” she tells JIS News.

Another patron, Laurell Scott, says the fair is providing a “good service in Montego Bay”, as many persons unable to afford the offerings are able to access them.

Icilda Anson, another beneficiary, describes the fair as “a good thing” that was staged in a good location.

A similar health fair was held in Brown’s Town, St. Ann, from June 30 to July 1.  The medical mission, which is the third such to the island, catered to some 500 persons.  It is financed through fundraisers held in the US and UK, as well as the support of several sponsors.

By: Serena Grant

Release: JIS

Photo Captions:

Patrons of the Feed the Fight Breast Cancer Charity’s International Cancer and Medical Mission Health Fair wait to take advantage of several medical services offered. The fair was held at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre on June 28 .

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Feed the Fight Breast Cancer Charity volunteer, Rosene Hamilton (right), does a blood pressure check on patron Amelda Irving, during the entity’s health fair at the Montego Bay Culture Centre, St. James, on Friday June 28.

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Scores of St. James residents being registered by Feed the Fight Breast Cancer Charity volunteers during the entity’s health fair, which was held at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in St. James on June 28.

Serena Grant Photos

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