Deborah P. Davis
From the small, rural town of Jonesville, VA, to a village in Central America is quite a trek! But Deborah Davis made it with knowledge, skills and most of all the desire to make a difference in the lives of those persons she would come in contact with, mainly the children in the surrounding villages. Villages with names unlike those she grew up around –Buttercup, Bermuda Landing, Scotland Half-Moon, Lemonal and, of course, the village where the clinic has been constructed, Flowers Bank, host to 250 species of orchids.
How she got to LMU is a story in itself. The story begins with Dr. Louis Lutz convincing her family LMU had a place for her in the history of the college, with the culmination being graduation from the University’s first nursing program. “The instructors shared their knowledge and skills in an effort to assist us in development as competent, efficient nurses, “ says Davis. “They inspired us to do more than just be a nurse. We were inspired to take what we had been taught and apply theories/concepts in a clinical setting. The role models our faculty represented motivated me and other classmates to pursue higher goals.”
Her trek to the jungle was preceded with the acquisition of a BSN from East Tennessee State University; an MSN from the University of Virginia culminating in completion of the graduate nurse practitioner program from University of Tennessee-Memphis. Along the way she acquired knowledge and skills from my experience in tertiary facilities as well as a three year hiatus serving as an assistant professor of nursing at East Tennessee State University.
Because of her desire to live in a warmer climate, she chose to relocate to Orlando, Florida. The transcultural healthcare experiences she has been exposed to led her to meet people from various parts of the world. Her job as a nurse practitioner in a predominantly Hispanic practice revealed the desperate need to learn a second language.
Her interest level peaked when she decided she needed a new challenge. Enter Nelson and Millie Tyler, two of her patients in Orlando. They came to the clinic seeking additional refills of their medications. She inquired as to where they were going that they could not obtain their medications. They were on their way to Belize, Central America (Millie’s native home) to establish an orphanage for poor and abused children. Their plans were to combine a residential home, school and clinic in an under served area. Through the graciousness of the Belizean government they were given twenty acres of land on which to develop the mission. Thus it was that Belizean Christian Efforts came to be. During the course of their clinic visit, she offered to help obtain supplies and equipment for the proposed clinic. Many pharmaceutical representatives and medical companies donated cases of bandages, medications, instruments, equipment as well as monetary contributions. Some of the office staff and patients as well as her immediate family members donated supplies. She hauled approximately 400-500 pounds of necessary items to the airport and was enroute to a place she found on the map and rapidly researched through the internet. She was enthralled by the natural beauty of the country but was not prepared for the poverty; the lack of electricity or running water. The coming days would be filled with laughter and tears. The sights and sounds of the children made each day more bearable in the face of heat and humidity like none she had ever been exposed to. The welcoming into the villages surpassed her expectations. Here she was, a white girl from the city, now trying to fit in with the natives of a beautiful Central American country. Her fears soon abated when she was greeted with welcomes by the people. The sharing of laughter, food and stories about their lives and the differences in each one of them has made for many an interesting journal entry.