Sidney Native Serves In Guatemala With Dickinson State Nursing Program

There are many lessons learned when a student attends college, but Sidney native Jaylen Baxter will never forget about her recent experiences through Dickinson State University's Department of Nursing program.

Baxter, a 2021 Sidney High School graduate, spent the early part of March in Guatemala with other nursing students as part of the God's Child Project. The God's Child Project cares for and educates 5,000 orphaned, abandoned and poverty-stricken children, and widowed, single, and abandoned mothers and their dependents in Guatemala, India and the United States. 

Part of the mission trip was constructing a house for a family, which was a challenge especially since their project leader didn't understand English very well.

"We built a house in three days with very little experience in construction," Baxter, a junior, said. "It was hard, but a lot of fun."

The first day of the building project included digging trenches and mixing concrete. Students were busy cutting wood, without the help of power tools, during the second day. The third day included nailing and painting.

When the group presented the house to a family, it was a satisfying time for everybody involved.

"They were very grateful, but we couldn't really communicate because of the language barrier," Baxter said. "It was pretty emotional for us and the family."

On another day of the experience, the nursing students assisted at a children's hospital that included malnourished babies.

"We spent the day taking care and feeding them," Baxter said. "And it gave the parents a break."

She explained some of the babies were so malnourished that they looked like they were only a couple of weeks old when they were really several months old.

"It was very humbly being down there and being exposed to their struggles," Baxter said. She added she realized how fortunate she is living in the United States where she has food, a roof over her head and gets an education.

On another day, students passed out vegetables, clothes and toys to mothers at the "dreamers center."

Baxter said the experience increased her understanding of the importance of serving others.

"I would definitely go back if given the opportunity," she said. "Everybody should do something like that. It's eye opening."

Baxter says she has always wanted to be a nurse. She started working as a certified nursing assistant when she was only 15 years old. She works as a licensed practical nurse during weekends at Sidney Health Center Extended Care.

"I've never really thought of any other career," the dean's list student said. "It's all I've really known."


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