A Maryland Story feature: Benjamin Dearing
This life has always made me restless and uncomfortable. Knowing there are people who struggle to access the primary necessities in life, such as healthcare, brings me a sense of uneasiness. I discovered my passion for helping others when I was just a kid. My dad would bring food to families on the streets or ask if they needed a ride somewhere warm. We were what you call “beltway beaters.” I grew up on outskirts of D.C in College Park, where I was the minority and homelessness was everywhere. With all the resources in the world, how could these people still struggle? As a kid, I didn’t understand.
I never understood my purpose in life until nursing, it was godsend. Nursing saved me from my own restlessness I carried every day. My teacher once told me, “the biggest mistake in life is to let anyone treat you less than a king.” My parents always believed in me, but until an outsider tells you your value, is when it speaks volumes. I believed in me, I felt my time here was worthwhile. I can love and be loved too. And this is how I want every one of my patients to feel and believe. Everyone deserves a chance at life to be their own king.
It was time to take action. I followed a group of fellas to Carrefour, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake caused mass devastation. We were there to rebuild homes, but I couldn’t help notice the health conditions of the people. They were sick, hurt, and bleeding. I thought to myself, “These people are still going to die.” They needed more than a roof over their head; they needed medicine. They needed help. They needed me. With little to no medicine in my bag, I went to work. That day alone I saw 40 patients.
Now 7 years later, I travel to Haiti twice a year and Honduras once a year, and Panama when I can. I have never felt more alive in my life. However, the weirdest thing now, is trying to figure out how to live when I’m home. I’m more comfortable and at peace overseas because I’m being helpful. Life is not a promise, and the people of Haiti and Honduras tango with death every day. They have so much hope and joy in the little things, they appreciate what life is. When hurricane Matthew caused devastation, I set up a free clinic in town and stayed open till it was so dark I could even see. Patients would tell me if I were there just two days before, I would have saved so and so. How do I turn that off? How do I come home and spend money? How do I not feel guilty about the life I have?
Through my missions and internships I learned that a lot of donated money is not actually spent on what it was intended for. That didn’t sit well with me. And that is how my non-profit, This Is Health (TIH) came about. All donations are spent on medicine, patients, support only, and our volunteers are nurses, doctors, and EMTs from across the U.S. The translators, security, and support services are hired directly from the community we’re serving to bring jobs to the people. The purpose of TIH is not only to treat the patients, but to educate them on health, such as how-to stay hydrated and to eat better, prevent UTIs and STDs, practice safe sex, and treat illnesses.
I can proudly say, TIH has served over 2,000 patients on four separate trips, has raised $10,000 in medical supplies, and has been shared over 500 times to social media. The tremendous support TIH has received is undeniably overwhelming and incredibly humbling. Our mission is so hard and heart breaking while being wonderfully rewarding at the same time. On behalf of TIH, I thank you for the continued support and I look forward to growing the charity to spread love all over the world to those in need.
If you’d like to donate or get involved with the movement, join here: