Three Days with SEAHEC in Baja – “Unforgettable”

Flying Sams KidsSEAHEC recruits health professions students and supports them to travel with the Flying Samaritans of Arizona, to El Rosario, Baja California, Mexico.  The students SEAHEC recruits serve as volunteer health educators and language interpreters on cross-border health projects, such as the Flying Samaritan’s medical and dental clinic in El Rosario.
In March, Gabriella Rico, a public health student at MEZCOPH made the trip with SEAHEC’s support.  Ms. Rico shared with us her account of the trip to Rosario:
“I had the great opportunity of volunteering with Flying Samaritans in El Rosario, Baja California. On my three-day trip I met amazing people, experienced an amazing plane ride and volunteered through SEAHEC, in the Flying Sams clinic, providing much-needed health education to people with diabetes. I was part of a great team who share with me a passion for helping others. All the volunteers have an amazing heart and serve others by providing them with their time, knowledge and resources. It was an unforgettable experience to fly in a small plane, experiencing the beautiful scenery from Tucson to Baja California.”

“During my volunteer work, I was able to use knowledge that I have gained in my public health career. I educated children on the importance of proper dental care through games and fun activities. I also discussed with the adults the importance of healthy eating and active lifestyle to prevent diabetes. Many of these people already have diabetes and were very interested in learning how healthy lifestyle can have a major impact. The women shared their stories and how diabetes has severely impacted their quality of life. I was also able to help with clinical work by translating for the nurses and doctors. As a future physician assistant, gaining clinical experience through helping others is very rewarding. Through this amazing opportunity, I was able to make new friendships, gain knowledge and an unforgettable experience helping the underserved communities in Mexico.”

FlyingSams14PlaneSEAHEC’s Executive Director, Gail Emrick, MPH, initiated a joint effort with Flying “Sams” after volunteering as an interpreter herself back in 2009.  Inspired by the Sams programming, she saw the opportunity to develop a health education component together with the Flying Sams, a Memorandum of Cooperation was developed – SEAHEC identifying and training bilingual, culturally competent health educators and the Sams providing the transportation to their clinic in Baja for students who join us on this endeavor. A nonprofit organization serving rural Baja California, the Flying Samaritans has local chapters in Tucson, Phoenix and the University of Arizona.

“SEAHEC’s strategic location here at the border, provides unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for young people to shape their vision of their role in society and their future as health professionals.  Our programs, such as the collaboration with Flying Samaritans, give students the opportunity to do valuable health work, learn about rural, underserved communities, and expand their vision of what they can do with their talents.  I like to observe the transformation that takes place during our trips – from service learning in Nogales, to health education connections in Baja – the human connection is what we are all about as professionals and as people,” Gail Emrick, SEAHEC Director shares her thoughts on service learning at the border.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at SEAHEC, contactErin Sol at esol@seahec.org

 

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