Why did I choose to go to Nicaragua?
Before my GMT experience, I had only traveled to tourist locations or well-developed countries with my family. I wanted to gain an awareness of what is going on outside of Southern California’s picturesque bubble and travel independently without my usual support structure. Furthermore, I had grown accustomed to learning from textbooks and lecture rooms, and I wanted to experience the human side of medicine and gain clinical experience with patients...
As I watched the airport shuttle carry the rest of the GMT Nicaragua participants towards the airport, I was not exactly sure what I had gotten myself into. The GMT staff was gracious enough to organize an extended stay and observation experience for me in the Masaya Hospital. All of a sudden I found myself to be the sole gringo, and was hit with a mixture of nervousness and excitement. Soon, Dr. Chavez and I were on a public bus from Managua to Masaya. There would be no more chartered buses and very little speaking of English; it was time to be immersed.....
The beauty of the small community of Manoguayabo was inescapable. The trees and shrubs were a flush, brilliant green, sprouting colorful flowers and sweet fruit. The sounds of children laughing and playing filled our ears. The glorious sun warmed our cheeks as we stepped off the bus, as if to welcome us to such a humble place.
As we walked along the dusty road, the most striking feature about the neighborhood was the construct of the homes. Poverty as seen on the television screen or read in the newspaper is entirely different from poverty experienced in actuality. A lot of the houses had neither doors, nor running water, nor electricity. Many children were half-naked, venturing around barefoot. Some of them glancing at you curiously—it’s so incredibly difficult to hold their gaze without feeling like you’re doing them an injustice by not giving them everything you have on you right then and there.
We held our clinic at the local church, la iglesia. Three words on the outside of the church immediately stood out to me, “Proyecto de Vida”: project of life.
That day we helped almost 200 patients—the majority of whom were children. It was not uncommon for us to see one woman accompanied by 5-6 children at one time. We treated them for a number of health issues including parasites, diarrhea, fungi, pneumonia and bacterial infections. We soon learned that a large portion of our patients had come from Haiti as refugees, bringing with them a beautiful Creole language. In many cases, we would have someone translating from Creole to Spanish, then another person translating from Spanish to English!
Global Medical Training endows students with experience unattainable in a classroom, allowing them to comprehend the adversities faced by others. As doctors, nurses and pharmacists of tomorrow, it is important that we be aware of the consequences that result from health disparities around the world—so that perhaps one day, we can help to alleviate them.
The smiles I received after helping those beautiful people were unforgettable. They not only reinforced my decision to become a physician, but also transformed my perspective on life. This is the gift that GMT has given me…who knows what it might have in store for you?
We are Global Medical Training:
Changing the world, one clinic at a time.
I just want to thank you for providing us students such a wonderful opportunity to provide basic medical services that we take for granted to less fortunate people in Nicaragua. It was a very humbling experience interacting with such people and seeing the conditions in which they live. I had a wonderful time and gained much practical knowledge and insights into Nicaraguan culture from you and your amazing staff. I can't wait to go back to learn more and to take part in helping more people. You are truly an inspirational figure. Once again, thank you.
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