We are a group of eight first-year medical students from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio planning to travel abroad on a medical mission trip to Ethiopia this summer. We are so grateful to have this opportunity to step out of the classroom and into a country where health care is sorely needed. Each year, the Ethiopia Outreach Program at UTHSCSA brings direct patient care to some of the world's most impoverished families. At the same time, the program trains physicians who are not only competent, but also compassionate, patient-driven, and responsive to the health care needs of our society.
The Ethiopia Outreach Program is a partnership between the Health Science Center and Common River (www.commonriver.org), a non-governmental organization whose goal is "to create balanced, productive, and self-sustaining communities for others to witness and replicate." Under the direction of Dr. Christine Zink, the primary physician, we will:
- Work with established government clinics to provide intake clinics for the villagers of Aleta Wondo, a community in rural Ethiopia. Due to the lack of health care access, our Ethiopia Outreach Team is, in many cases, the only medical care these families receive.
- Provide medical supplies and medicine to these clinics.
- Screen approximately 1,000 Ethiopians, most of whom are children, during this three-week trip.
Thus, we view our mission primarily as one of empowerment: to empower the clinics with the means to be successful via supplies and education, to empower the villagers of Aleta Wondo with the confidence to use these clinics as a resource, and to empower other medical providers in the area with the opportunity to serve the people of Aleta Wondo.
However, in order for this medical trip to become a reality, our team is responsible for all the preparations of the trip and all the funds to cover necessary expenses. Professionalism and responsibility are important to any business, and it is equally important to our team. Our team maintains the highest degree of professional and fiscal responsibility, and with this kind of outreach, we additionally ensure that our efforts provide real benefit to the communities we serve. For example:
- Along with our current medical education, our team participates in extensive preparatory sessions with doctors at the Health Science Center that train us on the most common diseases in Ethiopia, cultural traditions, and language.
- Our food and lodging will parallel local norms"”we will live in huts and eat local food. Our team is committed to minimizing costs and using most of the funds raised to directly benefit the local families.
- Our team has planned for and participated in various fundraising efforts to raise the funds needed. This includes planned social events for students and faculty, food sales, and physical work for local families and businesses.
The total cost of the medical trip will be $27,000. These efforts continue the medical infrastructure built by past teams and are critical to the well-being of the villagers of Aleta Wondo. Realizing that we cannot achieve our goals without the help of our community at home in the United States and the aid of generous sponsors, we humbly ask for your consideration in supporting the Ethiopia Outreach program.
The Members of the Ethiopia Outreach Program 2013
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