FIMRC volunteers are essential to our mission to improve healthcare worldwide through sustainable and responsible programs. We are committed to offering everyone who wants to volunteer with us different opportunities to ensure their trips are fully funded. One way we help support volunteer travel is through our scholarship program. Four times a year, FIMRC makes travel scholarships available to volunteers looking for a way to give back, gain clinical experience, or discover the right global health career track for them.
As Jackie Rico, a nursing student who spent her spring break volunteering in Huancayo, Peru shared, her trip might not have been possible without our scholarship program.
“My trip was initially scheduled for December 2018, but I had to postpone it in order to raise more funds. While on Instagram one night I saw there was a scholarship opportunity and immediately applied. I was thrilled to receive the scholarship -- which just so happened to cover the rest of my trip cost! I booked the flight and was set to depart for Peru on my birthday.”
Kayla Lentz, who also received a scholarship to travel over her spring break, first became interested in volunteering abroad after taking a course in global health. Inspired by what she learned, Kayla became involved in FIMRC’s Harvard Chapter and is currently the Secretary of the Executive Board. Kayla, like many of our volunteers, prioritized volunteering with an organization dedicated to responsible and sustainable volunteerism.
“Authenticity is one of my favorite words, and one of my favorite characteristics to both try to exude myself and to find in others. This past spring break, I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit FIMRC’s Project Restauración in the Dominican Republic, and the experience that I had there could likely be summed up in this one word. Every aspect of my trip was authentic and impactful.”
Volunteer and scholarship recipient Mia Vetrano also prioritized sustainability when selecting La Merced, Peru as her volunteer site.
“I was drawn to FIMRC because of its devotion to building strong, healthy communities globally. FIMRC is committed to making a difference by staying involved year-round and being a resource for underserved populations. This builds consistency and strengthens relationships within the communities they serve. FIMRC also provides health education programs to children and families. Thus, creating a cycle within the communities in which they are promoting a healthy lifestyle that can be passed on for future generations.”
And all three of our recent scholarship winners were able to see first-hand the positive impact FIMRC’s programs have on the communities they serve and the essential role volunteers play in achieving our mission.
“Over the course of the week, I built relationships with each of the staff members and was able to see their impact within the community. My most memorable experience includes traveling up a steep mountain to the native community where we met with children to teach them about mental health. The children were so sweet and eager to learn and play. Mental health is not the easiest topic to discuss with children, but it is important that they are aware and learning how to stay healthy both physically and mentally,” shared Mia.
For Kayla, the true value of FIMRC’s work was evident in the long distances some patients would travel to visit our clinic.
“I was struck by how far some of the patients seemed to have come in order to receive basic care that I think is easy for someone like myself to take for granted. This perseverance permeated many of the stories we heard, and was witnessed later in the week by hearing stories of individuals who would wake up at 3 am every week to spend four hours traveling in order to make it to the Diabetes and Hypertension Clinic held at the FIMRC office site.”
Kayla was also able to see first-hand how Harvard’s Adopt-A-Project, which sponsored a “Health Agents” course for 7th and 8th graders, was being utilized. Her group taught a lesson on infections and transmissions to the students as part of the 14-week course.
“Getting to see the students we had sponsored and their enthusiasm was so fantastic,” Kayla said.
Volunteer experiences are not just about what they give to the communities they serve, but also what they are able to take with them once their trip is over.
As Mia shared, her time in La Merced gave her a new perspective on healthcare in different countries and she will apply the lessons she learned with FIMRC as she pursues her own career in healthcare.
“I am so grateful for the experiences I had while in Peru which enabled me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. I encourage everyone to go outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself to do things you never thought you could do. And just maybe, it will change your life, just as it forever changed mine.”
For Jackie, the bonds she formed with our staff, her host family, and the other volunteers will last a lifetime.
“We met so many people and came across so many different encounters that really affected and changed all of the volunteers. We bonded with one another, we lived for a week together having never met each other before. We still keep in contact with one another and look forward to another FIMRC volunteer mission in the near future.”
Every volunteer takes away something unique from his or her travel experience and we are so proud to able to provide opportunities such as our scholarship to help take our volunteers across the world and continue to grow our FIMRC Family.
“I came back from my trip having learned so many lessons, and just enjoying the real and genuine relationships I was able to form. I truly feel honored to have been awarded one of the travel scholarships from FIMRC, and want to express my sincere gratitude both for the scholarship and for all involved in the success and sustainability on site. Spending my Spring Break in the Dominican Republic left me feeling grateful, informed, and more closely connected to FIMRC, and provided memories that I will forever cherish,” Kayla said.
Are you interested in applying for the next volunteer travel scholarship season? Learn about upcoming deadlines here:
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