During winter break eight students from Davidson's chapter of Timmy Global Health partnered with Fundación Tía Nueva in Ecuador to set up clinics in schools and churches, thereby achieving their mission to expand access to health care and empower students.
The students recruited 10 medical professionals to accompany them on the annual trip and provided support for the doctors by recording histories, performing triage, filling prescriptions and acting as scribes. Over the course of eight days, they saw 630 patients and provided 15,000 vitamins.
Tamara Hill '14, who plans to attend physician's assistant school said, "It's a great way to get direct experience with patients and see how health care functions in different communities. It's also humbling to help because the patients show so much gratitude."
Hill was shadowing one doctor when he gave an elderly man reading glasses from Walmart; the man was so overwhelmed with happiness that he jumped up and hugged everyone in the room.
"You can't capture in a photograph how it feels to see someone cry with gratefulness when they receive something as basic as Ibuprofen," said Davidson Chapter President Jane Gribble '14. "Going on the trip made the mission real to me."
The organization spends the semester leading up to the trip fundraising and collecting donations. One of their most successful campaigns is the Paper Bag Drive, in which they leave brown paper bags with letters explaining their mission and the drive on Davidson doorsteps. Donors to the drive give supplies such as toothbrushes, vitamins and over-the-counter medicines, as well as money.
"Because we hand deliver the donations and see where the funds are going, we know that all of our efforts are directly helping the community," said Gribble.
Timmy Global Health is currently raising money to fund the construction of the maternity ward for a new hospital in Ecuador. Gribble said this project and others like it help the organization sustain its mission and build relationships. And while the Davidson chapter makes the trip to Ecuador once per year, brigades visit the community every two or three months to make sure that patients regularly see doctors and fill their prescriptions.
The ongoing relationship between the organization and the community also fosters a sense of trust. "It was incredible to see how much they trusted us, especially me as a foreigner who didn't speak any Spanish," said Hill. "A mother let me hold and weigh her baby without hesitation. Working in such a trusting and grateful community inspired me to want to help more people in any way that I can."