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 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 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.