A Maple Springs resident recently returned from a mission trip to Honduras.
The trip was specifically planned to complete work that a group from St. Timothy Lutheran Church had begun on a previous mission. Candy Jett who had participated in mission trips with the group in the past, became aware that the group was unable to complete HIV testing on the previous trip, and decided to take on the work herself.
"Dr. Wolf-Dieter Krahn from Jamestown asked for certain lab tests to be performed on the sponsored children we call 'the promised kids," said Jett. "And, I was on my way to Honduras with my husband, David, for a different mission initiative of water collection in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Since I'm a medical technologist, I had the ability to do the tests, but I had no kits available."
Pictured below is Candy Jett, of Maple Springs, shown administering HIV tests, provided by Trinity Biotech of Jamestown, to a Honduran family on a recent mission trip.
That's where Bonnie DeJoy, corporate vice president of regulatory affairs for Trinity Biotech of Jamestown, came into the picture. Jett had just about given up on finding kits when she contacted DeJoy, who had four kits to donate to the cause, which was approximately a $1,600 value. Each kit contained 20 tests, which allowed for a total of 80 individuals to be tested.
"This kit was perfect because it was small, light, easy to carry and it was able to be stored at room temperature up to 90 degrees, which was perfect to take to Honduras where it's really toasty," said Jett. "The tests were also finger pricks, so we didn't have to draw blood and we had the test result in 10 minutes."
According to Jett, one of the families tested was particularly grateful because a woman in her twenties with two children had recently died from HIV.
"The remaining family was concerned that they had contracted HIV from the young woman," said Jett. "There were 10 of them living in a very small house, and in order to get tested they would have had to travel to Tegucigalpa. So, for me to be there with these kits was really an awesome experience. They were all crying when they found out the test came back negative."
Jett plans on returning to Tegucigalpa with her husband to continue the mission initiative of water collection. According to Jett, there is no public water system in the city, and because Honduras is a mountainous region it is difficult to transport water to each home. So, she and a team will assess the status of a number of homes to provide them with a water tank, a gutter system and type washboard for laundry purposes.
"I might also go back a couple of times for medical missions because I really enjoy them," said Jett. "It's a great experience, and you grow so much in all different ways. It's wonderful to learn the culture, to see different things and to appreciate what you have that they don't have. You always get back more than you give. And, you grow in faith too because you see how much they love life and the Lord despite what we consider as bad circumstances."
There are several opportunities to support the mission trips that St. Timothy Lutheran church hosts. In order to raise funds for projects, such as the water collection initiative, the church hosts fundraisers throughout the year. The church hosts a Rock-A-Thon in September, an auction in November. Theater For A Cause will also host "The Winning Streak" to benefit the Zonta Club of Jamestown, which will help with the water collection initiative, on Friday at the Spire of Jamestown.
Jett's mission to Honduras would have happened regardless of DeJoy's support. Yet, the Honduran family who was living in fear of having contracted HIV may not have been able to rest at ease without the support of these two area residents.
According to DeJoy, Trinity Biotech is a manufacturer of medical devices, specifically blood testing kits, and its flagship product is for HIV. Because the tests can be stored at room temperature, they were perfect for Jett's mission, said Dejoy.
"For someone like Candy going to Honduras for her mission, the kits were ideal," said DeJoy. "She did not have to worry about refrigeration, and the other unique thing was that you get the results in 10 minutes, rather than having to wait hours or days to send a blood sample to a lab. And, it's also easy to read whether it is positive or negative."
DeJoy, who serves in Zonta International with Jett, said that when she was approached about the kits, she was immediately willing to help. She was especially willing, she said, because the two also have a medical background in common.
"Trinity Biotech is in the health care profession, so when Candy approached me about the mission I said, 'It is right within the mission of Trinity, and that is health care,'" said DeJoy. "They were ecstatic to be able to do the testing, and have the results available right there. HIV is not curable, but it is preventable, and one of the ways of preventing it is to know whether you're positive or negative."
According to DeJoy, the possibility of making another donation for missions such as this again in the future is likely.