I had researched various organizations before commencing my voyage to India. Though I do believe that travel can be spontaneous and unplanned, I think that when it comes to volunteering, proper research must be executed. There exists this "benevolent gratification" that many travelers are drawn to when it comes to going abroad and volunteering, however a lot of "aid" is not necessarily beneficial or productive. With that said, after much research, I picked two organizations to work with during my stay in India. One was with interest in alternative medicine (CHFI) and the other focused on modern medicine. I can say that with the comparison of the two, CFHI was undoubtedly the most engaging, dynamic, and nourishing organization that I've participated in. The locations were superb, as I got to work in the rural village of Patti, perfectly off the grid and secluded, which was therapeutic as much as it was mystifying and eye opening. Never did I think I would be in a tiny village at the foothills of the Himalayas, connecting with villagers like I did. We also had the pleasure of spending Diwali in Rishikesh, which was a natural paradise and truly one of my favorite places in the world. That area totally spoke to me as someone who is reflective and quite spiritual. Here we got to learn about natural healing with acupuncture, water therapy, mud therapy, and reflexology, as well as experience practicals from our instructors. It was magic. Finally we spent 2 weeks in Deradun where we got to live as medical students. This meant we took the bus to our rotations, which were actually quite encompassing (they took up the entire day) but in turn, extremely beneficial. I felt like I was getting what I asked for with medical volunteering. I learned about homeopathy, Ayurveda (with fabulous practicals), and speak with a 104 year old doctor for 2 weeks. It was such an amazing, moving opportunity. I really loved how thoughtful and easygoing our host family was, and our guide, Manyank was so elaborate with our entire experience. He took us to a wedding, taught us Hindi, helped us fabricate weekend plans, took us out to dinner, and had thanksgiving with us. I really miss him actually! I loved that yoga classes were included in the first 2 weeks of the program- it was the most immersion I've ever had in the practice. And honestly, with comparison to the other organization that I worked with, the material I learned through this program was invaluable. It was in depth, meaningful, impressive, and something that I share at any chance I get. The depth of the Ayurveda and homeopathy and alternative medicine that I learned was absolutely incredible. It truly means a lot to me, and has made me a more medically creative person. And the experiences I had during this program will always move me. India is in my bones now. I love this organization and what it does. I would 100% love to have the pleasure of working with CFHI again!
I am forever changed by my Ugandan experience. Thank you CFHI for this amazing opportunity, and thank you KIHEFO for accepting me like family. This was truly a once in a lifetime adventure. CFHI provided me with an opportunity to be immersed in Ugandan culture. This is the way to experience global health! I was forced to put my own assumptions aside and learn to think about health from a different perspective. I left Uganda with a new sense of purpose and a renewed passion for global healthcare.
Uganda is a great country with even greater people. I will never forget the special people that I met. The KIHEFO staff was incredible and truly did everything possible to ensure that I enjoyed my stay. I am forever grateful for there amazing hospitality. This entire experience has changed my outlook on not only health but also on life.
I regret not reviewing CFHI's Cape Town project beforehand as CFHI's reputation got the best of me. It is apt to say that the program is total rubbish. Here is some information that you are not told.
1) There is NO clinical rotation. CFHI's webpage advertises the opportunity to observe in general surgery, general medicine, pediatrics, HIV clinic, and casualty. The reality is that you are placed in Internal Medicine for the duration of the program. When I brought this fact up, one of the coordinators, Avril, got mad and replied word for word "Why can't you be open to the experience?"
2) The staff offers ZERO accommodation. It was extremely frustrating to work with Avril and Marion (coordinators of the program). It seems that their answers to any problems in the program are "Be open minded", "Don't let the small things get to you", and "You are already blessed to have this opportunity". The driver associated with the program is one of the grumpiest, least accommodating person that I've encountered. You are picked up at 6:30, because he doesn't want to sit in traffic. You arrive at 7, and you wait until 8 to begin observing.
3) The planning of the homestay is counter logic. All the volunteers are placed in a neighborhood called Vanguard Estate. It is in the region called Athlone. Two blocks down is a massive township called Langa. Think townships as one grade above slums. You can imagine that the neighborhood is not safe at all. Additionally, you are in a remote location where there is nothing fun to do. To head to the city where most attractions are, you have to either take Uber or drive. You can imagine the accumulated cost for that.
I speak from the bottom of my heart when I say that you should avoid this program. If you want to be placed in South Africa, choose Durban. It seems that project has more positive reviews, and I doubt it can be worse than Cape Town's project. Save yourself money and time.
Thank you for sharing this feedback with us. We are sorry to hear that the program did not match your expectations. We take this type of feedback very seriously we welcome the opportunity to continue to improve. I would like to encourage you to contact us directly so that we may learn more about your concerns and address them directly. Thank you for again for your feedback and for bringing these important issues to our attention. Sincerely, Robin Young, Assistant Director- Africa and Asia, Child Family Health International. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CFHI is an amazing organization that does an excellent job melding a learning experience with assisting global communities. I've been a part of many nonprofit organizations and CFHI is by far one of the most organized and thought provoking. As a volunteer in both South Africa and India, I felt well immersed and blended into the local communities.
CFHI India went above and beyond to provide me an amazing public health experience in Delhi. I learned far more than I anticipated, and I'm excited to apply this knowledge to my future career as a public health physician.
This summer I participated in a health related program in Uganda. Through CFHI, I was matched with the KIHEFO general clinic in Kabale Uganda where I was able to shadow physicians in the general clinic. Along with this experience there was a public health component via outreaches in the villages in the Kabale district.
The people were amazingly warm and welcoming. Uganda is a very safe place to be and the program is very structured which is great for those who have never been abroad. There was cultural immersion as well and plenty of time for tourist activities like safari. Overall a great experience.
In the Summer of 2013, I was selected to receive the International Enhancement Grant, from Indiana University’s Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, to finance the, Intensive Beginner Spanish Program sponsored by Child Family Health International (CHFI) in Quito, Ecuador. My experience was incredible!!! As a medical student, the program broadened my context of health care as it relates to the United States and developing countries. The Spanish classes provided by, “The Amazing Andes Spanish School,” especially those that focused on medically related Spanish, were effectively taught and engaging. These classes were particularly helpful when I volunteered at the community maternity hospital and family medicine clinics. With the help of the program, I had visited several historic sites, such as the Presidential Palace and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus; and took excursions to Baños and Mindo
Sometime in 2007, I was awarded a scholarship to participate in the Infectious disease program in India. This was my first experience, ever, in Global Health.
True, we did stay in some run down leprosy village for a part of the program and I stayed hungry alot of times because I wasn't vegetarian, those experiences were what put courage and resilience in me to go where people refused to go and do what people refused to do 4 years down the line.
Today, I am going on to study Global Health at one of the World's best university because CFHI launched me out on a path from which I have never looked back.
I implore prospective students not to get half way and quit (some people did), I ask you to brace up, laugh out loud and enjoy the ride. It might feel abit strange but you will gain perspective and Knowledge that far outweighs minor discomforts.
I wish you all the best and see you at the top!
I participated in the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine program in La Pax, Bolivia this past June 2015, and it was an extremely beautiful and illuminating experience. My time spent working with doctors and nurses in varying specialties was invaluable in giving me a chance to learn more about the health care field, as well as about intercultural medicine. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who wants more exposure to the medical field, or to those who aren't sure if this career is right for them. As for me, as a result of this program I have decided to continue along my path into medicine.
CFHI does a great job finding inspiring and intelligent doctors to shadow during our time at the program. Before I left, they were extremely helpful, accommodating, and answered all questions and concernsi I had about my trip. They also provide many resources to fundraise for the program. During the program itself, we are connected with a coordinator who lives in the country, in my case the kind and wonderful Gonzalo Claire. He was available for us whenever we needed him, and worked with us to give us each experience we desired. With his help I was able to shadow a doctor in a women and children's clinic that no other student had worked in before. Overall, I would recommend this program, and CFHI specifically, for anyone who desires to expose themselves to global medicine.
This organization is doing great work for many underserved communities through partnering on local projects with local leaders and students. I worked to bring new insights to program coordinators in charge of running a female sex worker program by providing a review of the published literature. Following my participation in their public health India program, I have become more culturally sensitive and been able to advocate on behalf of similar communities.
Program: CFHI Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 1 Month (July)
Price: Very reasonable (book/pay for your own flight)
Structure: Very well planned and connected with very skilled local coordinators/preceptors/doctors/locals/host families.
Experience: This solidified my aspirations to become a doctor. Full immersion into the world of doctors. The cultural aspect was beautifully balanced with the local sight seeing.
My rating: ∞ / 5
After a 35 hour grueling travel time, I arrive in the Cape Town Airport. I retrieve my luggage and dilly dally around to see if I can exchange currency in an oddly uncrowded airport. Near the exit, I see Mariam extremely worried but also relieved to see me. I know this was going to be a lovely experience when I see the care in the local coordinators and preceptors. I arrive at Aunty Carol and Uncle George's place (host mom and dad) and immediately I can tell that CFHI only finds the best and safest host families to house their volunteers. Later on, this was further confirmed when I notice an increased amount of food left for me (when I'm unable to make it home to dinner) only a few days after I got there - she notices I was a big eater! It truly feels like home. The living situation couldn't be any better. It is safe, fun, and warm.
Again very well timed and structured. Work during weekdays from 8-3pm roughly in the hospital and transportation to the hospital is also included. Weekends are on your own, including meals. The hospital life is the bomb! Even though this is a mid-sized teaching hospital, we were able to shadow doctors to our hearts' content, which is a DREAM for premeds. We learn a great number of things and are able to shadow great and passionate doctors. Every week we have meetings together with Marion and Avril to reflect on our time in hospitals; it paves a way to meld the group together and to further improve the program. I believe CFHI made a very smart move in including this as a method to improve the quality of the programs (which, in my opinion, is hard to do because it's already SO GOOD). In all, this is a very valuable experience for medical related students because you work very intimately with doctors and you learn immense amount of knowledge along local students and international students. The staff and doctors were extremely friendly and everybody acted as if the hospital is a house for a big family. Volunteering in GF Jooste teaches humility, passion, culture, knowledge about inequality, and so much more!
I can personally vouch for CFHI's Cape Town program, since I have been there. In all the conversations and communications I've had with CFHI, they've been highly helpful and kind. With the art of extrapolation, I can venture to say that all their programs are worth exploring. CFHI not only opened my eyes to medicine in general, it also showed me first hand how real health disparities in the world is. I can confidently say that CFHI have made an immense mark in my life in pushing me towards global awareness and I am truly grateful for this opportunity!
I'LL BE BACK!