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 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/
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!
I participated in the CFHI Dentistry and Oral Health program in Quito, Ecuador. WOW, what an experience of a lifetime! I worked with a government owned dental clinic in central Quito, a beautiful colonial town. The staff there was great, kind, and always patient. For two weeks, I volunteered at the clinic from 8am to 12pm. I worked closely with Dr. Herrera, and assisted with many fillings and prophylaxis. At home, I am a dental assistant at a Pediatric Dentistry practice. So, the most exciting procedure I was able to assist with in this program was wisdom teeth extractions with the maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Cano. I also assisted the prosthodontist with mixing and taking impressions. All the patients were very appreciative of their dentists and always left with smiles.
I highly recommend this program for any future dentists wanting to not only experience a comprehensive dental outreach program, but also explore a beautiful country during weekend trip opportunities.
I was part of CFHI's Intensive Beginner Spanish and Healthcare in Oaxaca, Mexico program from October 2013 to November 2013. I had an amazing time in Oaxaca learning about the healthcare system and exploring the beautiful city of Oaxaca. Being apart of this program allowed me to gain plenty of first hand experience in the medical field. During my program I volunteered at a rehabilitation center for children and got to see many different types of therapies and also directly help the facility by taking care of the children. I also rotated through a hospital and a community clinic. Through my rotations I was able to witness a child birth, which was defineitly a touching experience. Getting to see how medicine was practiced in a different country was a truly eye opening experience. As a pre-med student, CFHI's Intensive Beginner Spanish and Healthcare in Oaxaca, Mexico was a very helpful program. Not only did it give me valuable healthcare insight and experience it also allowed me to improve my Spanish speaking skills and learn more about the Mexican culture. Also, Oaxaca was a beautiful city full of culture that I am lucky to have been able to spend a whole month there. Thank you CFHI for the awesome experience!!
I had the absolute BEST experience with CFHI!! I participated in the Amazon Community and Indigenous Health program in Ecuador where I observed rural and urban healthcare in the city of Puyo, as well as learn about natural medicine from a traditional, indigenous family. Not only did I learn a great deal about the culture and the healthcare system in Ecuador, but I feel like I was able to contribute to the health and well-being of the people. During my time in Ecuador, I shadowed doctors in the Emergency Department and Family Medicine and got to see a wide range of cases. Everyday was completely different. I personally observed many trauma cases in the ER such as motor vehicle crashes, deep wounds, etc. while Family Medicine consisted of assisting with pap smears, prenatal care, and digestive health issues. My favorite part about the program was definitely the jungle visit with a Shuar family. I learned so much about medicinal plants (which I now use to this day) and also just living in the Amazon in general...i even got the chance to become a godmother to one of the Shuar kids! it was just an unbelievable trip.
As a pre-med student, I know that all the skills and experience I learned through CFHI can directly apply for me to become the best physician I can be. Thank you CFHI!!!!
As a Child Family Health International participant, I traveled to Puerto Escondido, Mexico on the “Tropical Medicine and Community Based Care on the Coast of Mexico” program. The program was outstanding, and the people at CFHI both in the US and while in Mexico were all committed to the wellbeing of the participants and the communities they serve. I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to go abroad with CFHI -- what an adventure! Beautiful beaches, fun music, local food, and surf lessons filled the afternoons and weekends. And best of all, this vacation-like experience included an altruistic mission: supporting the health of the local community. With subtle lessons in cultural competency, the daily experiences abroad have forever made me a better healthcare practitioner to all patient populations. It was both humbling and rewarding to provide primary care in the local health clinics of rural towns surrounding Puerto Escondido. Now, back in NYC, I realize that I am more understanding of many of my patients, in particular who are immigrants, who struggle with a language barrier, or who are from cultures different than my own. Lastly, I am thankful for the language skills acquired in Mexico during the Spanish classes as well as in the clinics, on the beach, and at the homestay. Knowing Spanish, especially medical Spanish, enables me to provide better care for many of my Spanish-speaking patients and allows me to pursue a greater diversity of career opportunities.
I am a nurse; now back in school to become a nurse practitioner. I have student loans and very little time off from school; regardless, I found a way to be an international volunteer. If you like traveling, enjoy challenging yourself, and aspire to be the best healthcare professional you can be, then make the time, find the funds, and go abroad with Child Family Health International – ‘let the world change you’.
I just finished a volunteer experience with the Child Family Health International organization at Oaxaca, Mexico. This experience was absolutely priceless. I stayed with a Mexican host family, which maximized my ability to learn Spanish during the experience, as their ability to converse in English was minimal. The hospitality (and the food) that the family provided me with was superb. The program was split between clinic time and Spanish courses (in addition to ample time for recreation as well). The language school affiliated with CFHI--Becari--had a great director who facilitated everything related to the stay, in addition to giving us advice on where to visit around the city, as well as tourist locations in Oaxaca. In conclusion, I had a great time in Oaxaca. I got to learn Spanish, primary care medicine along with differences between Mexican and US systems for medicine, as well as had ample time to visit various locations in Oaxaca which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I had an amazing time during my CFHI trip to Durban, South Africa. CFHI works closely with local healthcare organizations, and provides a lot of support for volunteers. Throughout the 5 weeks I spent in Durban, I learned a lot, made great connections, and felt as though I was making some contribution to the healthcare system in South Africa.
Overall, I had a great experience with CFHI during my Intensive Beginner Spanish and Healthcare program in Oaxaca, Mexico. I was able to observe doctors at two different government-run clinics. Both doctors were very friendly and enthusiastic about teaching me more about the how the public healthcare system works and about their cases. Gradually, they allowed me to work more directly with patients, from taking their basic measurements to assisting in basic medical procedures.
What I loved most about Oaxaca were the people and culture. My host family was so warm to me, as was everyone else I encountered there. I could always find performances around Zocalo, and it seemed that everyone loved to dance there! Oaxaca is such a community-oriented place with an incredibly rich culture, and it was the perfect place to develop my Spanish skills and learn more about the culture. The program was well organized and flexible, and I am very happy that I spent my summer before medical school doing this.
I participated in the Introduction to Traditional Medicine in India program through CFHI. Based in the north of India, we spent time in two different cities and also in a small village. This trip was absolutely INCREDIBLE. CFHI does a wonderful job providing the perfect amount of structure while also leaving freedom to explore a new place and really tailor the experience to fit personal expectations and goals. The doctors and homestays were all enthusiastic and open to developing lasting relationships, which really made the trip. I learned beyond what I ever would have expected about the integration of western and traditional medicine, and I believe that CFHI is the gold standard of what an NGO should seek to achieve. Their programs are community-based, instill a culturally sensitive and comprehensive understanding of global health issues, and provide quality care and opportunities for service-learning through collaboration without imposition. I would highly, highly recommend CFHI to anyone seeking to broaden their understanding of public health concerns around the world!
I had a WONDERFUL experience through CFHI in the Amazon Community and Indigenous Health Program. Through this program, I had the opportunity to volunteer in hospitals throughout urban, rural, and indigenous areas of Ecuador. I met and worked next to a range of different physicians who all took their time to explain different illnesses and treatment options to me.
During my second week, my CFHI group hiked 7 hours in to the Amazon jungle to live with the Shuar community. It was one of the best experiences of my life. They taught us how to cook, hunt, and use medicinal plants. I became close friends with the Shuar leaders and their children. A few weeks later we had the opportunity to volunteer at a small community clinic in Pituriska (the closest town to the Shuar). Everyone in the community had relatives in the Shuar and spoke the native language. We had the opportunity to visit nearby homes and schools to deliver vaccines and do new-born check-ups. It was a wonderful way to get out into the community and learn about how local families live.
I learned a lot through this experience and wouldn't trade it for the world. I know now that I want to become a primary care physician that works in low income areas. I also hope to continue providing medical aid abroad. We shadowed American missionary physicians for one week and saw the difference they made in the lives of their patients. Ecuadorians traveled hours to be seen by these doctors. I hope one day to have the same impact as these physicians.
I participated in the CFHI Public Health and Community Medicine program based out of New Delhi, India. This was a four week program that took us to various different government and non-government programs involved in public health work. It was a challenging and demanding exposure to the problems that revolve around public health. However, it is equally rewarding and eye-opening. Through this first hand exposure to the people working out in the field, and to those that they serve, I was able to better understand the causes of these problems and routes for solutions to them, though routes that require a lot of work. The key thing is to go into it with an open mind and jump right in since New Delhi can be a jolt in and of itself, on top of the things you see and learn about in the program. That being said, the program gives you exposure to public health that I believe would be rare to obtain elsewhere and the local coordinators are very helpful and attentive to your needs and they play a huge role in making you have the best time possible.
I participated in the HIV/AIDS healthcare in Durban, South Africa program. I was able to learn a great deal about HIV/AIDS through the community and public health venues. The greatest incidence of HIV/AIDS occurs in Durban therefore it is essential in learning more about this topic.
Before this trip my knowledge of HIV/AIDS existed in articles on global health forums and public health books. Now I can say I’ve been here in the thick of it. Through spending time in clinics, hospitals, staff, and public health leaders I’ve come back with so much more knowledge. I got to do this while living with a wonderful host mom and brothers who taught me the Zulu culture. I ate traditional food with my hands, spent time with HIV patients of all ages, saw the good a health system can do and the bad effects that an illness can have on a society. I would like to thank everyone for their support in getting me to this CFHI experience. I’m sad to be leaving already but glad to be getting home to share my experience and hopefully create awareness of HIV/AIDS and the importance of global public health.
Thanks to a scholarship from CFHI, I was able to realize my dreams of travelling abroad and gaining first-hand experience living and promoting sexual health in the beautiful nation of Ecuador. From May-June 2013, I volunteered in CFHI's Sexual Health as a Human Right program.
While in the program, I worked with Copprende, a non-profit organization that provides sexual and reproductive health education to the public. During my time at Copprende I learned about the organization while assisting with presentations and community health fairs. My culminating project was to propose a new sexual health theme to diversify the foundation's efforts in community outreach and sexual health education.
In four weeks of cultural immersion, I learned much more than I could ever learn in a classroom setting. I chose this program because I am interested in researching the factors that impact teen pregnancy and contraceptive use in the Latino community, both inside and outside of the US. Latinos in Ecuador and America are different in many ways, but there is much to learn from their shared beliefs and habits that come from having a similar background.
Cultural immersion is a great way to shed light on the similarities and differences that influence a culture. Thanks to Child Family Health International and Copprende I have a broader conception of research that could hopefully improve the sexual education and outreach efforts of organizations interesting in improving the health and social status of the Latino community.
I participated in two programs with CFHI; Intensive Beginners Spanish and Amazonian Community & Indigenous Health. I could write extensively about both programs, however I was much more impacted by my time spent in the Amazon. During this program I spent a little over three weeks in a town (Puyo) that lies just on the outskirts of the Amazon jungle. Two of my weeks were spent in and around the town while the third week was spent visiting an indigenous tribe within the Amazon. During my time in Puyo I shadowed physicians at the well known Voz Andes clinic where I was able to see a full spectrum of health cases. Some patients were locals who simply needed standard care while others traveled more than a day to receive treatment. My second week in Puyo was spent on the public health trail where I followed a Ministry of Public Health employee door to door in checking for mosquitoes in an effort to eliminate dengue. Finally, my week in the jungle was probably my most memorable time. The route to get there started with an hour bus ride to an outpost clinic followed by a four hour hike along a muddy trail that was impassable by anything but foot. The hike was beautiful in addition to exhausting. However, the effort was worth it as I was welcomed by the local tribe with open arms for the duration of my four day stay. During this time I was invited to be part of several traditional rituals and songs. Additionally, one day was spent going over the local flora to learn what plants were consumed and for what purposes; medical or otherwise.
Simply put, my trip into the Amazon was full of breadth both medically and culturally. It couldn't have been more spot on.
The program I participated in within CFHI was called "Sexual Health as a Human Right: Ecuador's Unique Model". As a person that studied business and minored in health, it was a great way for me to experience the administrative aspects of a health initiative on an international level. I had the opportunity of working with Copprende, an NGO in Quito, Ecuador. It was a great way for me to see how an NGO as well as health facilities operate differently than in the USA. It was really intriguing to learn how sexual and reproductive health was viewed in Ecuador. It was great opportunity to compare and contrast. I learned a great deal and it increased my cultural sensitivity on the subject.
The first couple of days were spent learning about the organization and about the larger organization that they are a part of called Prosalud Inter Americana. The majority of my days were spent traveling to universities, police or military schools, and health facilities distributing brochures. Sometimes it was assisting in the facilitation of a presentation/charla. On other days, I spent time in the office working on my contribution. It was interesting to see the reaction of others about the topics discussed to them during our outreach.
I had wonderful Spanish teachers and everyone noticed my improvement. The teachers were always patient and very helpful. I wouldn't have learned so much without them. I also lived with a great host family who were always interested in what I had to say. This particular program, Sexual Health as a Human Right, is a great program especially for those seeking a non-clinical experience.
My time with CFHI was incredible. I learned so much and had tons of fun along the way. The directors, both local and back in the states, are very helpful and happy to answer any question or help with any concerns. The medical rotations showed me so may different sides of medicine, from the cultural aspects to the technical. From Spanish lessons to the homestays, the program includes everything one could want when volunteering abroad. CFHI has affirmed my desire to work in medicine, but more than that I now feel like I have become much more of a global citizen.
It was one of the best rotations of my medical school career. Getting the opportunity to perform a number of procedures while also seeing what healthcare challenges another culture faced allowed me to develop tremendously as a doctor and person in the beginning stages of my career. As a group we got a better understanding of why diseases like TB and HIV are so prevalent because Avril Whate spent an extensive amount of time speaking with us about the decades of healthcare neglect during apartheid.
I can't stress enough how welcoming Avril and Marion Williams were to our group. They did an amazing job teaching us about the culture of Cape Town and the complex history of its people. Such a great 4 weeks and I would highly recommend this rotation.
Had a great 4 weeks here. Could not have asked for better experience. I was very impressed by the organization from our local coordinators Marion and Avril. Within hours of stepping off the plane we had a meeting with both if them to explain the ins and outs of Cape Town: how to be safe, what to expect in the hospitals, what to expect in our home stays, things to do in Cape Town. It was informative, fun, and a reassuring way to let us know they would always be there. Because of these two, there were never any surprises and I knew that if an issue did come about there would already be a plan in place to fix it.
I have done multiple trips abroad throughout undergrad with many different organization programs. Of all of the local coordinators I worked with, Marion and Avril were the only two that were constantly visible and in constant contact with the group. They didn't just show up when there was an issue, but instead would meet us for dinners and festivals and whatever else was going on in Cape Town that they thought we would enjoy. My amazing experience with CHFI was almost entirely due to these two individuals. I will definitely be recommending this program to other medical students.
Participating in CFHI's health program was the best clinical experience abroad I have ever had. The families I stayed with in both Quito and Chone were very kind, accomodating, and hospitable. They gave me a taste of their culture, customs, and values while making me feel a part of the fmaily. This program has helped me to become a more culturally sensitive, well-rounded, medical Spanish speaking future doctor. I would recommend this program for every current and aspiring health care professional. It's an experience of a lifetime. I came back with a refreshed outlook on life and better sense of self, and hope this feeling stays with me for a lifetime!