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August 26, 2014

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August 26, 2014

When I first arrived in Cordoba in the middle of the night, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen pictures of Buenos Aires but didn’t know what Cordoba looked like. After finally arriving at my homestay, I quickly fell asleep. Waking up in the morning, I hear “Yasamin! Yasamin!” and a little girl with curly brunette hair runs towards me and crashes into me as she hugs me. In that moment, I knew this was going to be home. I lived with an abuela, but her daughter and grandkids lived down the street so they were always over. We sat down and ate the classic Cordobes breakfast food, criollos, and talked for hours and hours, laughing, and getting to know each other. While I had studied abroad in Spain a few years ago and stayed with a family, this was their first time. The girls were so excited and asking questions left and right about different American movies and t.v. shows while I asked about their local food, tv. shows, cultural festivities etc. They were so welcoming and constantly checking to make sure I felt comfortable. I immediately felt connected to them and felt like they were my own family.

That night we walked along the Cañada river to Patio Olmos, the central shopping center of Cordoba. We had a great dinner and watched a live performance of folk music. The whole room was energized and the people were swaying to the tunes. I looked around and saw people of all age groups. What surprised me the most was the number of elderly people chatting away in the late hours of the night! Compared to the US where you barely see older people out during the night, in Cordoba their out regardless of the hour and full of life. I looked around and immediately felt at home with music in the background and people laughing and smiling all around me. The energy and warmth was contagious and I couldn’t be more excited to spend the next two months in this beautiful city with my beautiful family.
July 7, 2014

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July 7, 2014

My goals for the time in India were to obtain an understanding of the very complex Indian healthcare system and improve my Hindi skills. Both of these goals I was able to accomplish with my Hindi reaching the level of being able to interview patients towards the end of my time there. I have visited India many times in the past, but usually in the comfort of my grandparents’ large home in the metropolis of New Delhi. This time, I was able to see the country in a new light.

CFHI truly allowed me to truly get a taste of the many different levels of Indian healthcare. I was able to see patients in the city with hypertension all the way to patients in small villages who had been in farming accidents. With my Hindi skills and knowledge of the culture I began to connect with the Indian patient population. I was able to understand their problems and complaints in the greater context of Indian society and values. I was also able to closely see the many issues like pollution and poverty that plague India and became resolved to help in a more meaningful way as I develop the skills to become involved in global health in the future.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Delineate between undergraduates and medical students so that those with experience can be more involved.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A little

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

June 19, 2014

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June 19, 2014

I had an absolutely amazing experience with CFHI’s HIV/AIDS program in Durban, South Africa. As an incoming 3rd year medical student at the Ohio State University, this was one of my first hand’s on clinical experiences. Our coordinator, Maureen, housed all 6 of us with local Zulu families. All of us had wonderful experiences with these families. They provided us with a place to stay and home cooked traditional Zulu meals. Many of them had children our age that we were able to spend time with. This greatly enhanced our understanding of the Zulu culture and language. Over the following 3.5 weeks I rotated through various departments at King Edward Hospital in Durban, a public secondary hospital. During the first week I was able to participate in Pediatric morning rounds, Intern lectures, and assist in my first Caesarean section. I spent the following week with a team of general surgeons. I was able to observe various endoscopic procedures, observe general clinic days and stay on overnight calls to observe and assist in surgeries. I was able to assist in a leg amputation and observe an appendectomy, gastrectomy, lymph node biopsy, inguinal hernia repair, exploration laparotomy, as well as other smaller procedures. I learned procedural skills for the first time as well as continued to expand my medical knowledge. During the 3rd week I rotated through various departments including Psychiatry, Urology, and Casualty. Although many of the conditions were similar to those seen in the US (burns, asthma, GSW, hydrocele, etc) many cases were complicated by concurrent HIV/AIDS and/or Tuberculosis. Virtually every patient is screened for both of these conditions- something that is rarely done in the US. It was incredible to see how these diseases can manifest in hundreds of different ways-ways that I may never observe in the US. In my final week I worked at the Blue Roof Clinic, a clinic providing free HIV/AIDs care to the community. I was able to shadow a HIV specialist and observed how she incorporated education and wellness into each of her patient's care.

Aside from the clinical experience there was ample time to explore South Africa. On my first weekend, I went on a Safari in St. Lucia and Hluhlwe Game Reserve. Maureen helped coordinate this experience with a local tour guide. On the second weekend, our group stayed in Durban to go horseback riding , experience the local nightlife and attend a township tour organized by CFHI. On my third weekend, I went to Cape Town-which was certainly a highlight of my time here. During the week days, we had most of our afternoons free. We were able to go to the beach on various occasions (Durban weather is warm almost every day of the year), Victoria Market, Durban Botanical Garden, Pavilion Mall, and Florida Road. Overall, the CFHI clinic schedule allowed for a balance of educational clinical experience and social and cultural exploration in South Africa. With no reservations, I would recommend this program to any student interested in pursing a health care related field that has an interest in exploring a new culture and health care system.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

modify the program for students in medical school to provide a more independent experience. There was a lot of observing in clinic and very little opportunity to take histories and do physicals and present to physicians before they see the patient themselves.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Okay

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

June 16, 2014

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June 16, 2014

CFHI connected myself and a classmate, both fourth year medical students, to a great healthcare organization in Kabale, Uganda called KIHEFO. At KIHEFO we were able to study tropical medicine, learn about the complex social issues affecting healthcare in Uganda, and learn how Ugandans are working to tackle big problems to like access to care, HIV and malnutrition. The clinic is organized in a way that highlights the interwoven nature of maternal and child health, HIV and nutrition in Uganda.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Make it very clear to participants that the experience in Kabale is working 100% with KIHEFO, and respect the fact that since it is such an integrative organization there is no way that they can have two separate programs.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

June 10, 2014

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June 10, 2014

This past March i participated in CFHI's Amazon Community and Indigenous Health program which brought me to Ecuador for the first time in my life. My experience was one of personal growth, adventure, friendship, and broadening of the mind. Our first week was spent in Quito a large, beautiful but culturally a rather bland city. The intensive spanish courses helped refresh my spanish and prepare me for the challenge of adapting to the the various dialects I would encounter throughout my trip. My time spent shadowing a doctor in the emergency clinic was full of excitement, and I left with a better understanding of the routine of admitting and examining a patient. At the end of the first week we took advantage of the days off in Baños, a cool little adventure/eco-tourism town in the cloud forest of the eastern Andes. We had a large group of students from the program in town together, so we had a blast getting to know each other while enjoying the attractions the town has to offer.
The next three weeks of the program were spent around Puyo, a large town of roughly 70,000 inhabitants on the edge of the Amazon. Based there, we spent our three weeks at clinics in Pitirishca, Mera, and staying with a Shuar family 12 km into the Amazon from Pitirishca. The last week in the Amazon was especially enlightening. A somewhat challenging trip involving a 6 hour hike through the mud to reach the village, this opportunity provided me with an experience that would be difficult to arrange otherwise. Immersed in a whole different world, we experienced a community completely in tune with the environment around them. Gustavo, our Shuar host and guide, lead us through his world and shared his knowledge of natural medicine and his peoples culture. It was an experience I will never forget, and one I will be hard pressed to replicate.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

June 8, 2014

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June 8, 2014

I participated in the Intensive Beginner Spanish and Healthcare program in Ecuador. During the program we had both Spanish classes and volunteered. Most weeks we had Spanish classes Monday through Thursday with Fridays off for weekend travel. We had a lot of opportunities to travel which was a lot of fun and a great way to see more of Ecuador.

We also had the opportunity to volunteer. My first 2 weeks I was at a school for 3-5 year olds, which was a great way to practice my Spanish. My second 2 weeks I was able to shadow clinicians. I spent one week in pediatrics and one in family medicine. I originally didn't have my first choice specialty, but they were able to switch it for me when I got there.

My favorite part of my trip was actually an adventure we got to do in Quito. A couple of my friends and I got to go to the Quito Zoo. While it took 2 bus rides and a taxi to get there, it was a lot of fun! Because it was so far out, we were the only tourists there, which forced us to use our Spanish. It also allowed us to see several animals local to Ecuador without traveling too far. It was a ton of fun!

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Provide more consistency in Spanish class and be more responsive to student feedback on what we want to learn in classes

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Unsure

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A little

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Unsure

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

June 7, 2014

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June 7, 2014

I just returned from Oaxaca, Mexico, where I participated in the Intensive Beginners Spanish and Healthcare program in May, 2014. I loved it! The Spanish school in which I studied, Becari, was small and quaint, and the all of the staff and teachers were friendly and helpful! I would highly recommend this school, and met other groups of travelers that were bouncing around from school to school until they settled on this one. My Spanish improved VASTLY, which was one of my biggest goals through this program. If you're worried about not knowing enough Spanish before going, and you have the option of going to Oaxaca a bit early, I would recommend doing so and taking classes through Becari. While in Oaxaca I spent two weeks at a Children's Center, where I helped with homework, lessons, and played with the children. Another week was spent shadowing in a health clinic, and the last shadowing in the Hospital. I most enjoyed my experience in the Hospital, because I got to experience a lot of new things, including abdominal surgeries and childbirths. It was really interesting to see so many different aspects of the healthcare system in Oaxaca. Oaxaca as a city is beautiful, and I met so many wonderful people, including my host family, there! I recommend getting out and seeing as much as you can both in and outside of the city! Great food, lots of museums, interesting architecture- so much to do and see! The organization, CFHI, was great with all of my predeparture questions and concerns, and I really felt supported by the organization. They are doing a great thing, and I definitely see myself looking into their other program sites in the future, once I'm a more trained healthcare professional.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

May 17, 2014

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May 17, 2014

This past April I participated in the CFHI Maternal and Child Health program in Pune, India. The experience from the day I was accepted into the program until the day I returned from India was wonderful. CFHI kept in contact with me throughout the many months before the program began. I received program information via mail and email, and felt very comfortable heading out to Pune.

I was the only person in the program during the month that I was over in India, but the program directors in Pune and in the States made sure that I was doing well throughout the entire trip. I felt very supported during my time over there. Each morning I met with the program director to discuss either the rotation I'd be going to or some interesting cultural information about India.

The rotation was set up so that each week I worked with a different obstetrician or pediatrician in both hospital and outpatient settings. Every morning I would go to the clinic and observe the physician during their normal day of clinic or hospital rounds. During my obstetrician rotations I was able to assist in a few surgeries and deliveries. I saw how different the hospital facilities were from ours in the states. The open aired buildings and women and men's wards that were crowed with people contrasted with the hospitals that I've worked in during my medical school training.

The pediatricians' offices were also always busy with patients and their families. I am heading into a pediatrics residency, so I enjoyed working in these clinics the best. The physicians taught me how to diagnose and treat some diseases that we would rarely see in the states, like Typhoid Fever, but I also learned so much about treating malnutrition, diarrheal diseases, and dehydration.

During my third week, I also was able to work in a rural clinic outside of Pune. The rural clinic was one of my favorite experiences. On the morning that we went there we picked up four residents from the local medical college and drove about 3 hours outside of the city. The mountains were beautiful and it felt wonderful to be outside of the noise and busyness of the city for a while. When we arrived at the clinic a crowd of people were already waiting there for us. I was able to work with both a pediatrician and an obstetrician during the morning. We saw over 60 patients, and by the time we were finished we all were exhausted, but satisfied that we were able to see everyone who came.
I enjoyed talking and spending time with my host family as well. They made sure that I had more than my share of the great Indian food, and was able to experience many of the wonderful places to see around Pune on my evenings and weekends off. I am grateful that I was able to participate in an Indian wedding, climb one of the nearby mountains, see multiple temples throughout the city, and visit the historical Buddhist caves. Coming home after my four week stay I can say that I feel more informed both about the health care system and the culture of this beautiful country. I can't wait to return.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

March 5, 2014

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March 5, 2014

I just returned from a CFHI trip to Bolivia. I participated in the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in La Paz, Bolivia program. I had a wonderful experience and definitely feel that the time I spent participating in the program will have a positive impact on my future career as a pediatrician. I saw some interesting diseases (i.e. Leishmaniasis) that are very uncommon in the United States. I also had the opportunity to explore some beautiful sites within the country. My host family was phenomenal and all of the food was delicious. Although I am still not fluent in Spanish, I feel that my language ability has improved and I have gained cultural perspective that will most definitely be beneficial in my future interactions with patients. I highly recommend this program, especially to those considering careers in pediatrics!

You can read my blog about my month in Bolivia here: http://boliviarachael.wordpress.com/

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

January 27, 2014

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January 27, 2014

I recently participated in the CFHI program of Realities and Healthcare inequities in Oaxaca, Mexico. This has definitely been one of the most amazing trips I've been on. Not only did I get to be immersed in a magnificent culture but I was able to learn medical terminology in Spanish which is very helpful as a bilingual nursing student about to graduate. I enjoyed that I had the opportunity to go to 5 different clinics and hospitals in a three week period. It was amazing to observe different surgical procedures and go to a rehabilitation center in the same week. On the other end one of the best cultural experiences I go to witness was a wedding ceremony at Santo Domingo on Saturday night. The wedding was almost a community event with a parade, music, and dancing dolls to help celebrate. The hospitality of my family in Oaxaca was also amazing. I will definitely be missing the home cooked Mexican food!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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