Last summer I traveled to Belize to work as medical volunteer with the organization International Service Learning. Along with 12 other volunteers and 2 doctors, we set up 3 temporary medical clinics near the western border of the country. At each clinic, we were able to see as many as 100 people with ailments ranging from machete wounds to diabetes. Within our clinic we had a make-shift pharmacy consisting of the medical supplies the volunteers brought from the United States. The pharmacy soon ran out of basic necessities the people needed, such as pre-natal vitamins and worm medication. I was disheartened by our inability to provide basic medical supplies to the families in need and as I talked with more and more families I learned that the families often went without the basic necessities that could prevent many debilitating diseases, especially among children. For example, often children can not afford shoes and will play outside barefoot. The children’s feet then come into contact with animal droppings, from which they can contract worms which is painful and deadly if untreated. The more families I met, the more I realized that I take many basic necessities of life for granted. For example, many children are malnourished because of lack of vitamins and therefore are susceptible to many other diseases. Often the children that I met were unable to attend school for long periods of time due to preventable illnesses. Their inability to enjoy the process of learning and inability to gain an education is one major factor that contributes to a cycle of poverty.
When I came home I was upset that so many children full of energy and potential are forced to stay home from school and miss out on enjoying their childhood because of a lack of basic medical supplies. As a result, I have decided to spend part of summer working in an orphanage in Costa Rica. Throughout the year I will be collecting basic medical necessities, as well as shoes and educational tools to bring to the orphanage. While at the orphanage I hope to show the children love and support, while also learning more about the special needs of children in orphanages and developing a lasting relationship. By developing a lasting relationship with the orphanage I can continue to supply the orphanage with essential supplies, as to make a lasting difference within the lives of the children. In addition, I hope to use my experience to educate others on the inequalities of the poor in different countries.