Thirteen Statesboro residents boarded a bus on Friday to start their journey to the Dominican Republic to open a mobile clinic.

The team will be operating a mobile medical clinic for Haitian refugees in the Bateyes near Barahona.

The endeavor was organized by Dr. Randy Smith, a family physician in town.

Smith has been leading medical mission trips like this one for 20 years with the support of his church, Pittman Park UMC

Before 2019, the team had developed a regular trip to the same location in Haiti each year. 

Then, the global pandemic halted any thoughts of traveling abroad, and Smith retired from medical practice.

That might have been the end, but one Sunday morning this February, Smith was listening to the sermon at Pittman Park. 

The details of the message are fuzzy, but he says the last words the Pastor said were, “We’ve got to go.” So, Smith began making plans for another trip.

When word got out that a plan was in the works, eight people from previous trips volunteered to help. 

Karen David, a retired teacher, had a sentiment shared by many, “It’s been several years since we last went, and I missed it.” 

Meet the team

The other veterans joining the trip are:

  • Physician Leslie Pittman
  • RN and Minister Lisa Deloach
  • Retired RN Becky Holmes
  • Retired counselor Terri Deloach
  • Retired teacher Renee Perkins
  • Retired teacher Eleanor Schneider
  • Nurse practitioner from Augusta Maria Smith

Joining that core team will be:

  • Retired teacher Laurie Cigal, who speaks Spanish and has traveled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic with different groups 
  • RN Holly Sawyer, a recent graduate that needed help persuading her father the trip is an OK idea 
  • RN Carol Ruffo, who was eager to go on a medical trip to help those less fortunate
  • LPN Patrice Ellison, who leaves behind a houseful of boys

Smith’s team is joining the efforts of John and Donna Bearden, missionaries to the Dominican Republic based in Waynesboro, Georgia, and they’ll be working with the Evangelical Dominican Church.

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