Health Services Authority Medical Director Dr. Delroy Jefferson, who has spent his annual leave for the past 15 years on volunteer medical missions, has been honoured for his humanitarian efforts.
The non-profit Global Listening Centre has named Jefferson a ‘Distinguished Humanitarian’ for both his professional and personal contributions.
The Global Listening Centre is an international non-profit organisation that defines listening as effective intercultural and interpersonal relations by being attentive and respectful of all people. A member of GLC, Jefferson is one of only three individuals globally to receive the 2019 Distinguished Humanitarian Award.
Jefferson has conducted in humanitarian missions in countries such as Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica and Egypt. On these self-funded trips, he has provided free medical aid to people with socioeconomic challenges.
He explained that his upbringing inspired him to give back. “I grew up in very humble circumstances, but in a Christian home where my mother placed emphasis on expressions of love and care for those with whom we interact,” Jefferson said.
“There is a passionate love for humanity especially for the poor, the downtrodden, those without the resources needed to satisfy the basic necessities of life.”
He recalled when he was a youngster, his mother lost her sight because she could not afford medical care. “I became a physician to make a difference in the lives of those persons most in need,” he said. “I have always had a passion to visit various regions and to add any small contribution towards making life better for the underprivileged.”
He has been helping people since early in his medical career. “On completing medical school, I saw an unmet need [for] the poorer inner-city dwellers in Kingston who had limited access to timely medical care,” he said, adding, “I spent weeks looking for an appropriate site within the inner city to conduct a free clinic.”
With help from his local pastor, he found a site that was converted into a makeshift clinic, and “other like-minded clinicians” – nurses, doctors and pharmacists – helped to run the free clinic.
“It was gratifying to observe the major life changes in individuals through even the simplest acts of kindness,” he said. “The clinic provided not just medical care but counselling and served as a repository of hope for the less fortunate.”
Jefferson continues his local and regional humanitarian efforts through various initiatives as a member of Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise. He also offers guidance and mentorship to young Caymanians who are aspiring physicians, as well as those in allied health fields through their university years and into medical school. Over the years, he has mentored more than 25 people.
“I look forward to my annual humanitarian missions as a time of renewal,” he said. “Interacting with those with lesser voices and empowering through education, financial aid or healthcare gives me extraordinary fulfilment. Knowing that I have aided those persons gives me the vigour to lead the medical personnel of the HSA once I return home.”
In addition to providing healthcare assistance, Jefferson has funded academic scholarships for students in Africa and the Caribbean.
He is already planning his next mission, a trip to Honduras in November with a team of volunteers from his Rotary Club who will be running clinics in some remote villages along the Cangrejal River Valley.
Then, in January, he is off to Africa.
“My passion for seeking out the less fortunate and making a difference in their lives has grown over the years and I have been fortunate to be provided with the health, prayers and family support towards that goal,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson has dedicated his annual leave to humanitarian missions in countries such as Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica and Egypt. On these self-funded trips, he has provided free medical aid to people with socioeconomic challenges.