Four Foothill students return from Sierra Leone mission


Maya Morales

Juniors Henry Ashworth (left) and Brandon Bushnell (right) traveled to Sierra Leone over Spring Break on a trip with Lighthouse Medical Missions. Credit: Maya Morales/The Foothill Dragon Press.
Juniors Henry Ashworth (left) and Brandon Bushnell (right) traveled to Sierra Leone over Spring Break on a trip with Lighthouse Medical Missions. Credit: Maya Morales/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Last week, four Foothill students embarked upon an exciting and fulfilling mission. With Lighthouse Medical Missions, these students were aiming to help the people of Sierra Leone by working in the clinics and spreading the Christian faith.

“The goal of the mission is to minister the love of Jesus Christ while administering clinical medical techniques to the people of Sierra Leone,” said junior Greg Oyan.

Oyan has been involved with Lighthouse Medical Missions before. Last spring he took part of the same type of trip to Sierra Leone. He loved it so much that he decided to continue with his relationship to the organization.

Other students were also drawn into the mission. At the Community Presbyterian Church in Ventura, sophomore Kent McLay listened avidly to the presentation made by Lighthouse Medical Missions. He asked if he could go and, after getting the green light on eleven different types of vaccinations,  weeks later ended up in Sierra Leone.

“I’ve always wanted to help people,” said McLay. “I want to go into the medical field and the military.” {sidebar id=12}

In the Bioscience Academy at Foothill, several students also signed up with the organization.

“Dr. White and Greg Oyan talked to Bioscience Survey,” said Henry Ashworth, “I was intrigued. I contacted White and got involved. My ambition is to be a doctor. Any medical experience is interesting to me.”

Lighthouse Medical Missions sends three teams per year, to the same country or to three different countries. Their main trips to Africa take place in the spring and the fall. Missions go to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi, The Gambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sierra Leone has had nine Medical Mission teams since 2001.

The students participating in the teams served as doctor’s assistants, helping to diagnose and treat and aid everyone in their village. They also brought medical supplies to the clinics, cleaned wounds and distributed medication.

“We’re taking a really cool Christian guy,” said McLay, “He’s going to prove to the people that voodoo doctors are just doing magic tricks.”

Aside from the clinical work they did, students also had the opportunity to travel to some of the beaches and meet the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone. Aware of the risks they were taking and the danger they might possibly face in traveling to a developing country, but were excited and energetic about the trip.

“My friends thought I was crazy,” said McLay. “My dad wasn’t super excited, and my uncle was freaking out. I’m assigned as a fake boyfriend, because in Salone, blond girls are a rarity. We need to show that those girls are taken, because they want wives and husbands from America over there.”

Despite the danger, the students collectively agree that this mission is an ambition of theirs.

“The mission is universal. It’s anything that anyone can be a part of and give back to their fellow man,” said Ashworth.

As for Oyan, he’s excited about being back in Africa, working to help people once more.

“When you arrive in Africa there is a feeling of being home. It is a magical place, somewhat warm, but somehow intriguing and comforting at the same time. The prospect of returning to a place that I love and seeing familiar faces of the people I left behind one year ago, was a cool thought.

What do you think?