HANDS International Conducts Maiden Guyana Mission


Supporters and partners of HANDS INTERNATIONAL will long remember August 1-10, 2008. Then it was that this mission agency initiated its maiden overseas project in Guyana, thereby converting its creeds into deeds. Working in partnership with the Del Rosa SDA Church here in Southeastern California, and collaborating with the Guyana Conference of SDA and Davis Memorial Hospital, a team from the agency successfully executed a community service in holistic care for the people of this unique land - the only English-speaking country in South America. The initiative, whose theme was Dynamics of Family Wellness in Nation-Building, was broad in scope but practical in its impact. It touched crucial dimensions of human health. 

A land of mighty rivers and majestic waterfalls, of dense jungles and expansive rainforests, and of diverse peoples and cultural groups, Guyana, though blessed with rich natural resources, remains one of the poorer and less developed countries in the region. Many areas of the capital city are depressed and many villages in the hinterland where native Amerindian tribes dwell are isolated and underserved. The need for health care is enormous.

Directed by Dr. Hedrick Edwards, retired professor of Health Science and Philosophy of Health at La Sierra University, and coordinated locally by Pastor Alexander Isaacs, Health Services Director of the Guyana Conference, the project included four physicians, two clinical psychologists, several nurses, a respiratory therapist, health educators, a pharmacist, and other professional associates - all volunteers.

Utilizing the modalities of radio and television, seminars and symposia, as well as clinical health interventions, the intense ten-day project integrated medical screening and health promotion with family life education and spirituality. Attention was given to physical fitness, close to 500 persons participating in a min-marathon and walkathon; and about 900 persons were medically screened for diabetes, hypertension, and other health related conditions. Several hundred persons attended the marriage and parenting seminars conducted by the two psychologists on the team, Dr. Tony Brandon and Augustine Panchoo.

In addition, 50 community health workers earned certificates for having completed a two-day nutrition workshop, which focused on the superior values of affordable vegetarian diets. Julihana Madison of Loma Linda University Medical Center and Dr. Reynold Agard of Delaware held a seminar on prostate health, which included clinical screening. There were also a health exposition that featured the products and services of several local and regional health agencies; a HIV/AIDS seminar for community health workers conducted by Dr. Brandon; and a seminar for educators and thought leaders, Reconciling Science and Faith, led by Dr. Norman Mitchell, retired Professor of Biology.

The final weekend featured marriage and family life themes and a plenary presentation by the executive director, Grace Rediscovered: Surprises and Challenges - a topic that captured the essential principle that inspired the entire mission in the first place. The culminating event, a Sunday evening banquet, was designed for interactions among church and community leadership in a celebratory setting. The feature address by the Honorable Dr. Leslie Ramasamy, Minister of Health of the Republic of Guyana, was a charming recognition of the constructive role the church and other NGO's play in national health and development. Several other dignitaries attended, including Dr. Desiree Fox from the Ministry of Education, and Mr. Hamilton Green, Mayor of the city of Georgetown. 

HANDS INTERNATIONAL wishes to thank the Southeastern California Conference and other partners who, in various ways, offered unconditional support of its mission. We invite you to participate in next year's venture in missions to Grenada, a Caribbean island devastated in the recent past by a violent hurricane. Why do we do this?

The agency is dedicated to the principle that we are to be our brothers' and sisters' keepers wherever they happen to be - in every tribe and nation, large or small; every island or continent, nearby or distant, every religion or culture, familiar or strange. The underlying objective is to convey the good news of healing grace in the spirit of Jesus through methods and projects that are socially relevant and culturally acceptable. HANDS is founded on a philosophy of community-based mission that seeks to embody the ideals of compassion for the disadvantaged, care for the under-served, and reconciliation for the alienated and marginalized. These goals are expressions of its motto: "In Brokenness, Healing Hands; In Conflict, Reconciling Grace."