Talkin' with Trav: Service brings magical rewards

By Travis Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 1 2012 11:00 a.m. MST

Children enjoying their first opportunity to receive health care at the Sunshine Heroes health clinic in Nepal.

Little Heroes Foundation

There is something magical about the combination of helping others while receiving nothing tangible in return that gets into your soul and takes you on a magical journey.

Jessica Braithwaite is a mother of five, lives in Highland, Utah, and has been on many magical journeys throughout her life.

I met Jessica four years ago as she volunteered at my annual basketball camp. She was busy helping children sign up, get their T-shirts, name tags and welcome them to camp.

It didn’t take me long to see she was swallowed up in the joy of service.

When I asked her about the importance of service, Jessica said, “It is such a gift to have the opportunity to serve, you can’t help someone else without helping yourself.”

Jessica, who now works for the Little Heroes Foundation, recently flew to Nepal, leaving her family behind, and helped open a health clinic.

Situated between India and China, Nepal is the poorest country in Asia. With an estimated 30 million people living there, many Nepalese people live on $1 a day or less and 85 percent of the people have no access to health care.

Jessica went to Nepal in November 2011. She spent one week in Nepal, walking hours and hours to provide free health services to people in rural areas. She rode elephants, met amazing people and coordinated the official opening of the Sunshine Heroes Health Clinic, named after the Little Heroes Foundation and its founding sponsor, Nature's Sunshine Products in Provo.

After a long walk to a school located in an rural area, Jessica met a woman named Kamala, who had walked six hours to the free health clinic. Jessica first met Kamala’s son, who she thought was 6 but discovered later he was 11. Doctors told Jessica that he was severely malnourished and had other health problems including a severe infection in his foot.

While doctors examined the young boy, Kamala held Jessica’s hands, touched her face and was curious to know, see and touch the first Caucasian she had ever seen. As Kamala aided her, she spoke of her happiness, joy and how blessed she was to have a wonderful family. She also spoke of her husband, a hard-working farmhand, and the hard life she is enduring.

Most days, Kamala, alongside her husband and children, work from five in the morning till dark harvesting the crops. They live on less than $20 a month and struggle to survive.

“Kamala was my shadow, she followed me everywhere, wanted to hold my hands and be by my side; she was such a sweet woman,” said Jessica.

“Kamala’s hands had the toughest skin, they were dirty and full of callouses from working so hard.”

Jessica quickly learned that she and Kamala had a lot in common. They were both mothers of five children; they were the same age and they loved to serve people.

Unfortunately, one of the many things Jessica and Kamala do not have in common is access to health care. Kamala, her husband, and her children had never seen a doctor in their life, like many of the people in Nepal.

Can you imagine living your whole life, giving birth and raising five children while never having access to a doctor, antibiotics or any type of health care?

Kamala was touched by Jessica’s kindness and her willingness to leave her comfortable life and travel around the world to help her, her son and the people of Nepal.

When Jessica returned from her trip, she reported to the governing board of Little Heroes, sharing many amazing experiences and gave an update on the health clinic.

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