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Shelby Brooks' Fundraiser:

Working with CFHI and Indigenous Healthcare in Ecuador

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Shelby Brooks

THE STORY:

BACKGROUND:
My volunteering aspiration involves working with Child Family Health International (CFHI) to learn first-hand what it means to work with traditional medicine alongside allopathic (homeopathic) medicine in Puyo, a city in rural Ecuador. Below is a more detailed account of my situation as a Student at Quest University Canada and what it would mean for me to volunteer with this specific program.
First of all, I am an American student who transferred to a Canadian University. Before hopping the border, I worked full time as a Nursing Assistant (sometimes over 40 hours a week) while also attending Western Washington University full-time. I paid for my own expenses, I worked hard, and I was rewarded with good grades and [financial] stability. While living in Canada, I cover my expenses such as rent, food, and any tuition that remains after scholarships have been applied, with much fewer available work hours and thus much less financial stability. However, I am rewarded with an even better education and grades. Because of my transient living situation between two different countries depending on the school season, for the first time in my life I need to ask for financial help in order to obtain my goal of volunteering abroad, and thus my dream of finally leaving this continent for the first time.

Please help me reach my goal of $4,200 to experience this month-long volunteer program abroad that aims at improving the health and quality of life of the indigenous people of Puyo, Ecuador. Read on to learn about me and the goals I hope to achieve over the next year and then carry with me on to Medical School.

MY STORY:

At Quest University Canada, three of our program requirements for obtaining our Bachelor's Degree include developing a Question, completing Experiential Learning in our field of interest, and creating a Keystone Project.

My question is: How Can We Improve Healthcare While Being Culturally Sensitive? By attempting to answer this question, my goal is to find methods for improving healthcare resources and practices that do not hinder, disqualify, or threaten the inherent cultural practices of residents in any specific area. Ultimately, I hope that conventional medicine can be made into an available resource whileat the same time patients are being well-educated in their options of traditional, homeopathic, and/or conventional medicine before choosing their path of healing. I believe that more successful medical treatments can come from the combination of medicine that is based on evidence provided by the scientific method and medicine that the patient and his or her culture either knows or believes to be effective. Answering my question will help me in gather evidence for or against this hypothesis. I want to help people in a way that will improve their quality of life without questioning their culture or belief system.

For my Keystone Project, I recently obtained permission from my adviser to write a fictional novel based on real scientific research to present to my school at the end of my Bachelor's Degree (April, 2014). I aim to show the character development of a medical student or graduate in a moral situation very similar to mine. S/he will be faced with dilemmas such as what to do in the event that s/he must choose between conventional medicine OR culture, like in the case of female circumcision. I hope to share with my readers the experience I will have in researching my Question, including the information I gather from scientific studies, experiential learning, and interviews of first-hand accounts.

For my experiential learning, as stated previously, I hope to work with Child Family Health International (CFHI) in rural Ecuador on their Indigenous Health Track to interact with indigenous communities and their traditional practices. Please visit this link to learn more about the specific program that I aim to participate in this coming winter:
http://www.cfhi.org/web/index.php/program/show/id/225

I hope that this program will give me a first-hand experience in the fields that my research is directly aimed at: medicine and culture. This program is so closely related to my interests that I would have to be a complete fool not to try and participate.

If you have a passion for culture, equal rights, healthcare abroad, or helping students in need with achieving their goals, I implore you to donate to my cause. Every little bit helps and all funding will go directly towards funding this volunteer trip including the program fees, travel, and possibly any immunizations that my insurance might not cover.

COST OF MY VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE:

The CFHI 4-week program: $2,660
Round trip airfare (as checked in May for the month of December): $1,089
Travel Insurance: $140
Change for immunizations
Total: $4,189

As well as a pre-med (and pre-medical anthropology) student, I am a photographer. I hope to provide my supporters with first-hand accounts of my experience using my DSLR. Because I am going to be bringing an expensive piece of equipment with me, I have included traveler's insurance into my fees.

This program is expensive by my standards, but I have heard from first-hand accounts of other students at my school that it is worth every penny. I know of at least three other people who have worked with CFHI and they claim it to be not only a completely legitimate program, but a life-changing experience. Please help me to achieve my goal by donating or spreading the word via Facebook, email, family, and/or friends. I will be contributing a large chunk of my own summer savings to accomplishing my goal, however any other help will be immensely appreciated! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via this program.

Thank you for reading, and I hope that you can be a part of my journey to help those in rural Ecuador!

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