Up until this year, I’d always spent my spring breaks taking time away from school, laying on the beach, or spending time with friends. Spring Break 2018 was different.
This past March—instead of basking in the sun or catching up with loved ones—I left Idaho State University (ISU) and embarked on a journey with 60 other volunteers from all medical backgrounds to provide health care to indigent Peruvians in villages surrounding Cusco, Peru. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my week any other way.
Providing Health Care to Those Who Don’t Have Regular Access
I joined the Idaho Condor (a non-profit committed to providing health care to Peruvians) on the trip, and we brought care to villagers in areas that don’t have regular access to medical care. We visited a different village every day for five days—traveling anywhere from one to three hours through the winding roads of the Andes Mountains. Services we provided included medical, dental, pharmaceutical, women’s health, and audiology—the team I was a part of!
This mission was the third year Idaho Condor included an audiology team. The four of us provided audiology services for more than 200 Peruvian villagers, 24 of whom were fitted with hearing aids. Many of our patients walked hours (even days!) to line up outside of our clinics, which were usually government buildings or gymnasiums, to receive treatment.
My Life-Changing Experience
This experience was life changing for me—as a student and as a future clinician. I learned what it was like to work under limited conditions, often with no running water, limited electricity, and only the supplies we could carry on an airplane. It really showed me how much good can be accomplished with determination, ingenuity, and a good base of audiological knowledge. We made do with what we had, and most importantly, provided care to individuals who needed it.
I’ve always known my future would include humanitarian work and outreach. This profession and this trip solidified those dreams. Nothing made me happier than seeing our Peruvian patients’ smiles after cleaning their ears or fitting their hearing aid.
If you get the opportunity, I encourage all of you to be involved in outreach programs. You don’t have to travel to far-away lands to do this—instead, simply volunteer at your local hearing clinic or become involved with a local charitable organization. It’ll only change your life for the better!