Utahns bring medical help to people in the Solomon Islands

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah couple who saw a need for medical care and hospital improvements while on vacation a half a world away decided to do something about it and organized a medical mission.

Allan and Suzanne Daly and their colleagues in the medical profession did the traveling and health care. A group of young people from Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church helped raise the money for solar panels for the hospital. The project ended up connecting countries, churches and people.

Imagine 30,000 people needing medical care, but they have no doctor. Imagine a hospital with no electricity. These are the conditions Dr. Suzanne Daly and her husband, Allan, found on the Solomon Islands.

The couple met the bishop of the United Church, which owns the health clinic. They traveled to the islands, located off the coast of Australia, in June of 2006 to do some scuba diving and toured the "Seghe Hospital," a concrete building used mainly for malaria tests.

"I just saw a huge need, and I saw a huge amount of suffering for lack of basic medical care," Suzanne said.

The Dalys returned and asked friends, the community and their church for help. Young people from Mount Olympus Presbyterian saw pictures of the young people on the islands, caught the vision and began fundraising.

"We ended up earning enough money for four panels, about $3,200," said Daniel Dupont, member of the Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church.

Fellow church member Jordan Hughes said, "We were actually expecting just to get one solar panel with the children's ministry, but we ended up getting four. So, that was a real blessing."

But despite good intentions, the solar panels got lost in Sydney, Australia. So, the young people helped in another way: They prayed that somebody would find the solar panels.

Six months later, the panels surfaced in a warehouse at the docks and finally made their way to the hospital.

"It made me feel really happy because they wouldn't have to travel so far just to get medical help, and they wouldn't be so sick," said church member Stephen Hall.

Workers installed 57 panels on the hospital roof. They brought light and power to every medical procedure.

"It's truly incredible, so now they have lights 24 hours a day. We pumped 500 gallons of water, so now they have water in their toilets and their sinks," Allan said.

During two weeks in June, the team treated 700 villagers. The doctors, nurses and a dentist used their skills, but it was what they saw and felt that made a difference.

"The children are just stoic little beings, and they just get in your heart. You just can't do enough for them. They have nothing," said Marci Dowdall, a registered nurse who participated in the medical mission.

Each one has the desire to return and do more. There is now an unforgettable connection.

"It was a life-changing experience, truly. I learned a lot about myself through those people. They live very simple lives," said registered nurse Kerri Brown.

The Dalys plan to return to the Solomon Islands in November and next June. If you are interested in becoming involved, CLICK HERE for more information.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com


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Carole Mikita


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