This Spring Break, instead of going back home to Canada, I have decided to go on my second volunteer medical trip abroad. Last year I travelled to Nicaragua and the experiences and conversations I had with the physicians and patients there have had such an inspiring and life-changing impact on me. This year I hope to continue learning more about the health disparities on a global scale and also to develop my clinical skills that will allow me to help examine and assess patients, under the guidance of physicians, on my trip to the Dominican Republic.
Most of you who read this will already know who I am but I will share a bit more about myself. My name is Lily Zhang and I am a third year undergraduate student at UCLA, majoring in Neuroscience. Public health knowledge and access to competent health care have always been important to me and in the future I plan on going into medicine, specializing in either Neurology or Neurosurgery. Now that I am nearing the end of my undergraduate studies at UCLA I want to make every moment count. I strongly believe that if you are passionate and that if you put in all your effort into making dreams a reality, you can truly succeed in your goals.
Out of all the experiences that I have had at UCLA, being a part of Global Medical Training has really stood out and had a lasting impact on me. Global Medical Training (GMT) is an international, non-profit organization that provides free medical and dental services in developing parts of Central America. Our motto is “Learn by Doing”, which embodies what I will be doing on the trip. The local physicians involved with GMT mentor us while we directly examine and treat patients in these isolated rural communities, where many people have not seen any form of health care for months at a time. I will also be bringing medication to these clinics and visiting the homes of those who are more seriously ill, conducting public health surveys while explaining prevention methods, and giving workshops on public health topics such as hygiene and nutrition.
I first became a part of Global Medical Training at UCLA in my second year. During my medical trip I saw that life in Nicaragua was completely different to what I was familiar with; many communities do not have the resources and services to provide competent health care for all of their population. The nearest clinics would take most of the day to travel to and in the rare instances that the people are able to make the journey they are turned away because the clinics are either overwhelmed or there are no affordable, available treatments for them. People of the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua have high rates of hypertension, malnutrition, and parasitic infections due to the communities’ lack of proper water sanitization, hygiene and nutrition knowledge, and housing. In a lot of cases that I saw, health issues were very preventable and treatable, but unfortunately there are just so few resources for them. I was humbled by what I learned and knew that I could not let myself turn away from a path towards health care and medicine where I would have the opportunities, skill set, and the resources to be able to do all that I can to help people have a higher quality of life. This is what I am passionate about and what I am committed to doing for the rest of my life.
This medical trip would not be possible without help from family and friends. I have set a personal goal to fundraise $1,500 for the medical trip, and this amount would cover the cost for medical supplies, such as hypertension medication, prenatal vitamins, parasitic treatment, and transportation. I sincerely appreciate any donation you are able to offer. You can contribute a tax-deductible donation towards this medical journey by donating through Stripe (in USD), writing a check, giving a cash donation, Venmo-ing me or contacting me directly. Please remember that any amount helps and that your donation and support would mean the world to me. More information about the trip can be found online as well at http://gmtatucla.wix.com/gmtatucla and please feel free to explore the gallery on this page to see some photos that were taken during my trip to Nicaragua last year. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the trip.