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February 11, 2015

A Late “Welcome Back” and Peru Testimonials

Howdy Clemson FIMRC!

I hope that everyone is easily getting back into the swing of things, and that you haven’t lost hope in the spring semester already! I know that FIMRC is gearing up for lots of activities and that the Peru peeps are having to transition back into “school mode” as well. Having gone on a trip, I know that coming back is one of the roughest parts! I still have withdrawal moments. When you do make it back you have tons of memories and information you want to share with just about everyone you come into contact with, including complete strangers. A couple of our members, juniors Austin Herbst and Taylor Dennison, have been gracious enough to share their winter trip experiences!

“I traveled with 5 other students to the FIMRC site in La Merced, Peru, over winter break for 9 days to volunteer. We shadowed in local hospitals and helped out in a rural community to work on a playground. It was incredibly rewarding, and I learned a lot and had a ton of fun! All of the people we worked with and met were fantastic, very friendly, and welcoming. At the end of the trip, a few of us even took a trip to Machu Picchu, which was one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. The trip overall was awesome, and I definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about it!” -Austin Herbst

“However cliché my trip to La Merced, Peru with FIMRC was truly incredible. In La Merced I had the unique opportunity to not simply work at a clinic set up by FIMRC but instead I was able to volunteer and shadow at several hospitals. The hospitals all had different levels of care they could provide and were in different social settings. The first hospital I shadowed at was in downtown La Merced; it was a level 2 hospital so it was equipped to perform surgeries and typical hospital evaluations. This was the only hospital in La Merced that would see patients if they had SIS insurance- a type of insurance that is given to Peruvian people if they cannot afford to pay for insurance on their own. I was fortunate enough to shadow the only surgeon who worked at this hospital as he made his rounds throughout the hospital to check on his patients. While I was observing him I was able to see medical procedures and practices that I could never witness in the United States because of the strict security laws that are present here. I saw a young Peruvian woman give birth to a health baby girl, I aided the surgeon as he checked on the progress of a women’s scar that was present as a result of the kidney surgery she had three days previously, and I helped him attend to teenage boys that had severe facial wounds because of a motorcycle accident.
While I mainly observed and aided healthcare workers with small tasks throughout my time at the hospital in downtown La Merced, the work I completed in the smaller hospital in the neighboring town of San Ramon provided a nice contrast to this. This hospital in San Ramon was a level one hospital, which mainly focused on routine pediatric checkups and community outreach regarding common tropical disease such as Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever. Here my experience was more hands on; I was in charge of measuring and weighing children, helping with standard child development tests and re-coding the results in the proper way on their health records. The final hospital I shadowed at was the smallest of the three but also the nicest. This hospital had the cleanest operating rooms, private exam rooms, multiple computers and even air conditioning. The only explanation for the discrepancy in the cleanliness and technology between this hospital and the others was that this hospital only accepted patients who had private insurance that they could afford to buy on their own. Here the doctor saw to more milder cases; he wrote a prescription for a toddler who had strep throat, burned a wart off of a young man who had the Herpes virus and took the vital signs of a man who had the flu. On our final working day we went to a rural community worked on a community beautification project and helped build a large trash can made out of recycled bottles.
The host family I stayed with was so caring and accommodating, I have never felt more comfortable in someone else’s home. The food was delicious, the rooms were nice, and we were within walking distance of a coffee store that had Wifi. I was also fortunate enough to enjoy the more touristy side of La Merced as we were there on New Years day and the hospitals were not seeing regular patients. I, along with the rest of the group, was guided by Tito- a local soccer star and the FIMRC driver- and was able to visit local waterfalls, take a riverboat ride, visit a local botanical garden and zoo, and enjoy beautiful panoramic views that overlooked all of La Merced. I would definitely recommend staying an extra day to do this so you can fully appreciate all of what La Merced has to offer!
The final aspect of my trip was not organized through FIMRC but was equally special. Several members of the group and I decided to go to Machu Picchu and other Incan ruins after we volunteered in La Merced. This excursion did increase the cost of the trip and involved some pre-planning but the unique cities and archaeological sites I saw definitely made it worthwhile. This tour allowed us to experience different aspects of the Peruvian culture and we had the opportunity to not only hike the mountain behind Machu Picchu but also eat guinea pig and I would definitely advise you to at least look into a similar trip- you should take advantage of all Peru has to offer while you are there!” -Taylor Dennison

A huge “thank you” goes to FIMRC HQ, all of our volunteers, and to everyone involved in the trips. The memories and experiences gained while at a FIMRC site abroad will truly change your life, as I’m sure it changed Austin and Taylor’s. Seeing a live birth and Machu Picchu in the same trip?? Come on! That’s so cool! These trips are also wonderful shadowing experiences for pre-med majors, but being pre-med is not a requirement! No matter what major you are, you will have an amazing time. You also have the opportunity to make lifelong friends with those that you embark on your adventure with. I know I’ll always be thankful for that!

I hope this helps more of our FIMRC family consider a winter or spring break trip. Put it on your Clemson Bucket List! Any questions on how to get involved? Ask a FIMRC exec board member, a previous trip goer, or do some research on our site. Thanks so much for taking the time to read these testimonials, and I look forward to seeing you all at future concessions, local project events, and meetings!

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