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 participated in a CFHI organized trip to northern India as part of a rural/urban Himalayan medicine rotation. CFHI had partnered with my medical school's global health program to help bring us a larger selection of international experiences. The rotation was 4 weeks long and was designed with 2 weeks in an urban setting and 2 weeks in rural areas. Overall, it was an incredible experience that was very eye opening and I would recommend it to just about everyone.
What made the experience special is that we were connected with the pre-existing local health systems rather than stand alone/foreign sponsored clinical sites. What this meant for me, is that I got a true look into what healthcare looks like on a daily basis in northern India. Personally, I think that finding experiences like this can be difficult to come by.
The office staff and well as in country coordinators did a good job. The US office was very responsive and helpful in answering questions. The in country local coordinators got the job done, but communication was sometimes difficult and there were multiple episodes instances of confusion and miscommunication. However, this didn't detract from the experience at all and at no point in time did we feel unsafe or in jeopardy because of the snafus.
Overall, I would recommend CFHI to others looking for a global health experience. They offer a wide variety of experiences and go about making them happen in an ethical responsible way that is different than may other organizations.
My very first trip abroad was certainly one for the books and I thank CFHI for that! During the four weeks I was away, I was able to travel to three different countries within East Africa; Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. After vacation in Kenya, I completed the 2 week intensive global health education program with Child Family Health International. The program was called "Maternal & Child Health, HIV and Realities of Health Access", and took place in a rural town called Kabale, located within South Western Uganda. The experience was phenomenal; from the people I met, the breathtaking scenery, the delicious food I tasted, the sights I saw, and the information I obtained. One of my favorite parts of the trip was being able to visit different clinical settings, shadowing the clinical staff, and learning how our American health systems compare and contrast with health systems in these countries. I am from Washington D.C., where the rate of people living with HIV is still very high, so it was eye-opening to witness HIV diagnosis, counseling and treatment in another country. I also enjoyed visiting the beneficiaries of a public health project which was being implemented to decrease rates of malnutrition. My own personal public health interests include chronic and infectious diseases, maternal/ child health, social justice issues, and eliminating health disparities among under-served populations; all areas of which this trip covered. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to experience a world so different from mine, and will move forward in pursuing my career in public health with a new interest in global health as well!
My time in Puerto Escondido, Mexico through CFHI was nothing short of extraordinary. Upon arrival, I was greeted with warm smiles and open arms. While I had done quite a bit of traveling prior to this experience, this was my first time traveling truly alone and with a more career-oriented goal. That being said, I was very nervous and I apprehensive about how my experience would be.
Luckily, my apprehension soon dissipated after my arrival. In my short time in Puerto, not only did I work on my project regarding childhood obesity in Mexico and learn an incredible amount about the Mexican healthcare system, I also was given many unique opportunities to learn about the culture and the people of Puerto. Being associated with the Oasis Surf and Language school allowed me to meet a ton of new people and have access to many amazing activities. To name a few, during my three weeks I was able to learn how to surf, freshen up on my Spanish, go to the local market, eat amazing local cuisine, release baby sea turtles on the beach, visit two different midwifes, learn how to cook typical Mexican meals from my host mom, watch movies on the beach, visit a wildlife refuge, hike along some ancient trails, and listen to the stories of some amazing local people.
Every day I would go to a local clinic and work on discovering and reducing health disparities that I found to be present in the population, and every evening I would sit on the beach and watch the sun disappear below the rolling ocean waves. It was truly a setting and an experience that made me reflect and realize how lucky I am and how badly I want to improve the health and well-being of others in populations around the globe. I am so lucky to have had the chance to experience all that I did with my short time in this coastal town of Oaxaca, and I would not have had such a chance if it weren't for CFHI! I definitely recommend this program and this organization to anyone who is looking to experience something new and life changing in the realm of healthcare.
I participated in the CFHI's Public Health & Community Medicine program in New Delhi, India during December 2015 - January 2016. I still have a hard time really explaining how awesome of an experience it was. Before the program began, I was full of emotions and a little apprehensive about how it all would all transpire and relate to what I have already been learning in my MPH program. Four weeks away from my family for the holidays was a tough pill to swallow but I was up for the challenge that ultimately changed my perspective in a lot of different ways. Not only did I learn so much about how public health integrates into community medicine in another country but I learned a lot about myself and my ability to translate the raw emotions that I felt while I was there. Both in-country coordinators made me feel like I was home and a part of their family. I also loved the weekly check-ins that the program provided for us to write our thoughts and talk with the coordinators about what we saw and how we were feeling. It gave me a chance during the program to reflect about the trip and the specifics of what I learned while visiting each organization.
Being able to be a tourist and visit the Taj Mahal, the Golden Temple, the Humayun's Tomb, the Red Fort and a myriad of other historic sites was the icing on the cake. This was my first international trip and by far CFHI set the bar high for providing such a cultural experience with different components that I couldn’t have imagined learning and/or understanding. I am very thankful and forever grateful to the CFHI staff and the in-country coordinators for the opportunity. I honestly think that everybody should be able to participate in global immersion programs and especially through CFHI because it’s simply one you won’t forget. The amount of confidence and pride that I have when asked about my participation in the CFHI program definitely hasn’t changed a bit since January and it honestly won’t ever! Thank you again CFHI!
They helped me fulfill a lifelong aspiration to learn to speak Spanish. I am not fluent but after participating in the CHFI Intensive Beginner Spanish course in Oaxaca, Mexico I am vastly closer than I was before. While abroad I could tell CFHI was a respected community partner and one that valued sustainability. I would highly recommend working, volunteering, or participating in their programs.
I really loved my experience abroad in Argentina as part of CFHI's two week intensive program! I spent two weeks in Cordoba, Argentina, working alongside physicians and medical residents in one of the largest public hospitals in Cordoba. I had so many opportunities to learn from the residents as well as teach them about medicine in the United States. As a senior year nursing student, this experience was particularly valuable because it felt like a capstone project for my undergraduate degree. I was able to use all the skills I had learned in school and combine them with the Spanish language background I already had. CFHI's program also gave students enrolled time in a classroom, to fine-tune our language skills and expand our knowledge on Argentinian culture. I wish I could have stayed for a longer program duration (4-6weeks), but I will always treasure my two weeks in South America. Now, as a practicing Registered Nurse, I can definitely say that this experience helped shape who I am as a health care professional.
I volunteered with “Hospital Medicine in Coastal Ghana” program in Cape Coast, Ghana as a licensed occupational therapist and volunteered in the Physiotherapy department. My one month in Ghana was absolutely phenomenal. I connected instantly with the rehab staff, the nurses within the wards, the market women within the waiting areas and patients and their families. There was an instant exchange of knowledge, resources and culture throughout my experience. The patients, staff and CFHI coordinators all became family - I felt at home. I am thankful for my experience with CFHI and would greatly recommend this organization.
I applied as a freshman pre-med student to experience hospital medicine in Cape Coast, Ghana. After being accepted into the program, I was impressed and extremely satisfied with CFHI's organization and preparation for what seemed an extremely challenging pursuit to volunteer in Ghana. They quickly made me a part of the medical community and lifted the stress of traveling, making the preparation and volunteering stages both personal and professional.
I participated in the program, Infectious Diseases and Hospital Rotation in Mumbai, India. During my rotation, I had the opportunity to observe Infectious Disease Specialists who are well known not only in India but also around the world. The specialists were not only knowledgeable but also very kind. I am grateful to CFHI for providing me with one of the greatest experiences.