International Health Service Collaborative – IHSC just came back from their international mission trip to Villas del Carmen in Coclé, Republic of Panama. This years crew included 21 students from the Colleges of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing and Physical Therapy. It was a bumpy but fun ride to Villas del Carmen.
Our adventure started on May 14th. The first day of travel from Tampa to Panama was OK that included a little delay in Ft. Lauderlale and great 3am snack at Niko´s café, followed by a 2h travel to Penonomé.
Sunday May 15th, was a little more interesting. It started with a 2h travel to the Community (longer than expected) where we met with the community and the Health Ministry authorities where we introduced IHSC to the community and talked objectives and expectations. On our return, we stopped at La Pintada where the Sombrero Pintado 1st Festival was held followed by a great dinner. Sherri is proof of it.
Monday May 16th. We had breakfast @Gallo Pinto. A 2h travel to the community and started the need assessments to determined the health priorities and interacted with the community. The main needs were latrines, water supply and lack of health services. Also, we noticed that the community did not have a propper place for garbage disposal (2012 goal?). Also, we voted to relocate our crew to a hostal closer to Villas del Carmen. It was unanimous but we weren´t excited about it. We just kept repeating in our heads: “its the best for the community”. Process Evaluations were held at the end of the day.
Tuesday May 17th. We had breakfast @Gallo Pinto and some ate at the local bakery. The e-board went to buy contruction materials for 25 latrines. After the approval of the USF Health International Foundation (Thanks Stephen and Aracely!), we moved to the Granja alternativa hostal. To tell you the truth it was better that anyone could expect it! It hadenough beds to hold up to 150 visitors, 3 huge villas, enough bathrooms and toilets, great meeting areas, extreme sports areas (canopy, rope course) and great cooks!
We splitted in 2 groups: need assessments and latrine construction team. Building a latrine is no easy task! digging a hole of 1m x 1m x 2m takes a lot of effort! Process evaluations were held at the end of the day
Wednesday May 18th. Continued the latrine construction process and we made our first “latrine slab” whoop whoop Go team Bryan!
Thursday May 19th. Clinics day!! With collaboration of the Health Ministry, IHSC held a massive health fair for Villas del Carmen. The services offered were vaccinations, medicine, oral health, health promotion and physical activities. Our students were involved under supervision by the Health Ministry in these clinical activities. No patient or animal was harmed during this health fair.
After the Health clinic was over, we went back to latrine digging and slab construction.
Friday May 20th. Our last day in Villas del Carmen! We arranged extreme sports for the crew, finishing the final slabs and interaction with the school kids. IT WAS AMAZING!
After all this work, we went to the Santa Clara beach and enjoyed the warm waters of the Pacific ocean with awesome seafood! After this we went to the City o Knowledge villas for a well deserved warm shower (I went home with my wife!)
Saturday May 21st. Our last day in Panama. City tour to the Cerro Ancón, Sourvenirs shop and ended up in a great buffet dinner at the Miraflores Locks restaurant… The food was out-of-this-world!
The final results of the trip were:
- Need assessment of 50% of the houses
- 14 completed latrines and 11 about to be finished by the owners
- Health fair with active participation of the Medicine, Nursing, Public Health Students and Physical Therapy students
As Co-president of IHSC, I can tell you that this was a growing experience for everybody. In the end, the crew understood that health is more than just clinics but assessing the whole Person-Environmente interaction in order to provide what the community really needs.
Promoting International Sustainable Health Projects rules!