Imagine walking through a town where children and dogs run wild in the streets. Imagine not being able to accept water from locals for fear of contaminants. Imagine an impoverished and sick community in need of help.
These are some of the realities that faced seven Boise State students who traveled to the Dominican Republic on service trip through Timmy Global Health.
Timmy Global Health, a nationwide and global nonprofit organization, works to battle health risks in third world countries.
“Timmy works to empower students to tackle global health issues,” said Camille Stover, a 21-year-old respiratory therapy major. “It is hard for students to go out and get hands on experience in the medical field. Timmy really wants to help students get some enthusiasm and passion for global health.”
Stover recently founded a chapter of Timmy Global Health at Boise State.
“I actually found Timmy on Facebook,” Stover said. “My friend posted a picture of herself in front of a Timmy sign while she was in Ecuador, so I decided to look it up.”
The Boise State chapter of Timmy Global Health went to Monticristi, Dominican Republic Jan. 11 to 21.
The medical brigade consisted of 33 volunteers. Seven of the volunteers were students and one was a faculty representative. There were also six Peace Corps volunteers, four physicians, two nurse practitioners, two nurses, a medical technologist, a sonographer, a pharmacist, two general volunteers, four Haitian medical students and the international partner, Dr. Miguel Garcia. Some local nurses and health promoters helped with registration and health education.
The brigade worked five clinic days, moving daily to different clinic sites. They saw a total of 670 patients, 85 who were referred for further treatment.
“We are not a band-aid project. Timmy is sustainable. We follow up on patients and make sure they are improving. We educate communities in hope that they will someday be sustainable on their own,” Stover said.
Students held a number of jobs in the clinics. They helped with triage, taking basic vital, building patient histories and even witnessing the diagnosis process with a medical professional.
Each clinic brought new patients who were in need of help. Lines wrapped around the clinics as hundreds came to see a doctor. Students who could speak Spanish were valuable because they could speak with patients to discern why they needed to see a doctor.
Ryan Carfi, a 20-year-old biology and pre-medicine major, co-founded Boise State’s chapter of Timmy Global Health.
“The experience was amazing. We did about 50 hours of volunteer work,” Carfi said. “I really want to make a difference in someone’s life. I didn’t do it just to put something on my application. I did it to help people.”
Stover was appalled by the poverty in the Dominican Republic. The streets were not paved and most citizens did’ t own a toothbrush, let alone know how to use one. Timmy gave out toothbrushes along with education on how to use them.
“The poverty you see there is nothing like you see here. In America, we are so fortunate to have clean water. It is incredible to go into a country and not even be able to brush your teeth with the water they have in these communities,” Stover said. “It’s amazing how something so simple as clean water can make such a difference in the health and quality of life for these people.”
The people of the Dominican Republic do not have access to clean water, let alone health care, and can’t afford to travel for either on an average income of $5 a day. Volunteers were only allowed to drink bottled water.
Boise State’s Timmy chapter has eight members, but Stover and Carfi urge others to join.
“It’s expensive. I’m not going to lie about that,” Stover said. “But the experience is definitely worth it.”
For more information about the Boise State chaper of Timmy Global Health check out the Facebook or email them at email@example.com.