Last week, Trinity Kid Companions used some of their free time to head out to surprise the residents of the St. Benedict Children's Home and neighboring Bread of Life Orphanage with an Easter egg hunt.
When they arrived, the group of Trinity students divided up into two teams, the first working with the children to decorate bags as Easter baskets, while the other group hid plastic eggs around the St. Benedict grounds.
The companions explained the rules of the hunt, showed the children what the eggs would look like, and paired off with their young friends, heading out into the field. As is typically the case in the US and Canada, each egg was filled with candy or a small prize for the students.
Trinity student Caylee Arcara explained how the event came together. "We had visiting relatives bring us the plastic eggs, otherwise everything was sourced here on the island. After that, it was a matter of scheduling the trip and planning the execution.” Caylee continued, “Being a companion to these children makes me feel great. When we first began to interact with them and started to form relationships, we could see that they were happy; it feels nice that they know for the years we're on the island, they can count on us as familiar faces and, eventually, friends. At first, it was about assigning partners, but the kids have their favorites now, and seek us out when we arrive.”
First time companion and Trinity student Maria Guarda (picture right) was elated that she had found the time to come. She had worked with children with disabilities before and was impressed with what she had seen. “I’m very impressed with this orphanage, what I’ve seen so far,” she went on, “I enjoy doing this so much, and the children are very happy. I was accepted right away after introducing myself, the children made me feel like I was an immediate part of the group.”
As a general rule, Trinity Student groups engage in activities that allow for interaction with the local community. Within that, they're typically service oriented and at least peripherally related to medicine (in some cases directly, as is the case with student-driven health clinics). President of Kid Companions, Sam Brosman, was adamant that even as they serve the children of the two orphanages with purpose, the club continuously fulfills the ideals which form Trinity School of Medicine’s watchwords as told to them at their white coat ceremonies, “Challenge, inspire, empower.” He admitted, “We are inspired just by coming here and playing with these kids, being a part of their life. Living in an orphanage is not easy, even with the love and care of the nuns here at St. Benedict's. The goal, without a doubt, is to inject more smiles into the lives of the children, and offering a helping hand to the staff whenever we can.”
When asked, President Brosman agreed that there was an element of empowerment. “We do try to empower. Part of our goal is building up these kids with activities that enriches but also entertains." He continued, “We always see kids trying to go beyond their normal activities. It is seen especially in those with physical disabilities who are enjoying themselves so much that they always try harder to achieve.” On the final of the three watchwords, challenge, he noted, “The challenge goes to the students,” he acknowledged, “when we come here to do this, we put aside time to spend time with kids that are much less fortunate than we are. We're challenged to help as students as we'll be challenged to help as physicians.”
The work will continue with the children of the St. Benedict Children's Home and the Bread of Life Orphanage. The beauty of a student group like Trinity's Kid Companions is it will live on past its current incarnation, and as new medical students come through the school, they will continue to create activities that will inspire, empower and challenge both their young friends and themselves. Scroll on for a gallery of the latest visit. (Photo credit to Moriah Carlson as well as the Trinity School of Medicine Kid Companions).