Ferrum College Students Join OMNI Medical Mission to Zambia
Ferrum College Boone Honors pre-professional science majors Paige Redifer ’14 and Andrew Hayes ’14 were members of an Orphan Medical Network International (OMNI) humanitarian medical mission team that went to Ndola, Zambia, in July 2013. Hayes and Redifer served as active participants and integral members of the medical team, which annually sees as many as 4,000 patients during its two-week mission.
“I cannot explain the impact that this trip has had on me. I feel so fortunate for everything that I have. So many of us in the United States feel at times like we have nothing and we have so many needs. In reality, we have so much,” said Redifer. “In Africa, I saw people who had almost nothing. Even though they had so little, they acted as if they had the world, because they had each other.”
Hayes echoed these sentiments while also noting how many maladies, rarely if ever seen in the United States, are part of day-to-day life in Zambia: “In this country [the U.S.] we don’t even understand how blessed we really are. The things that others have to live with day to day seem so foreign until you actually experience them firsthand,” he said. “The etiology over there is remarkable. I can’t count the number of cases of HIV, malaria, worms (of various types), leprosy, dermatological rashes, and infections not seen here, as well as several other diseases our doctors were baffled by until they could research them.”
Hayes and Redifer were chosen to join the OMNI team in Zambia after Ferrum professors Dr. Katie Goff, Dr. Michaela Gazdik, and Dr. Chris Aylesworth identified and interviewed five candidates for the mission. “OMNI President Karen ReMine selected Paige and Andrew from what she described as a group of five outstanding Ferrum students, and indicated that the entire group was highly qualified, enough that any could have been chosen,” explained Dr. Aylesworth, director of professional health sciences for the College. “We are very proud of them and that they all were qualified.”
In fact, two additional Ferrum students have been selected to join the OMNI mission trip again this summer. Graduating seniors Brittany Gale ’14, a pre-professional science major who intends to be a forensic pathologist, and Blake Sproles ’14, a biology major, were selected by Ms. ReMine to join the mission in 2014. “In the last two years four Ferrum students have been given the opportunity to participate in this amazing medical mission. It makes us feel good that our programs attract these kinds of students,” Dr. Aylesworth said.
Since its founding in 1989, Orphan Medical Network International (OMNI) has focused on medical care for orphans around the world. In subsequent years, OMNI’s mission has grown to serve orphans and vulnerable children and the communities in which they live through education and community development. OMNI’s entire staff is made up of volunteers who receive no salary. The board of directors consists of committed business professionals and community leaders who also volunteer their time.
For more information about OMNI, please visit www.omnimissions.com.