Students Visit Nicaragua on Medical Mission Trip
Throughout the course of their education at Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine (KSUCPM), students may develop a passion to serve communities outside of our great nation. Sai Narra, a fourth year podiatry student at KSUCPM is one of these students. “I have wanted to go on a mission trip since my first year here at KSUCPM,” Sai explains, “I felt that it was something that our curriculum was missing and that would add to my clinical experience”. Feeling inspired as she watched the journey of three classmates’ mission trip in 2015, Sai investigated the opportunity for herself.
Sai discovered The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), and began focusing her energy into a mission trip during her 4th year. FIMRC is a non-profit organization that uses its network of outpatient clinic and partnerships to develop clinical services, community outreach and health education programs to improve upon the health of families throughout the developing world. When fellow classmates Mike Thomas, Morgan Baxter, Brandon Lee, and Selina Kaminski expressed similar interest, the group planned a trip for March 3rd – 10th to visit Limon Nicaragua in the Rivas district. Funds were graciously awarded through a grant from OCPM Foundation, in addition to a Go Fund Me Page that the students used to raise $500 for medical supplies that are seriously lacking abroad, including diabetic testing strips and prenatal vitamins.
FIMRC allowed the group to experience and provide service to various aspects of healthcare in Nicaragua, including diabetes, malnutrition, house visits and micro-insurance inspections. The diabetic health clinic saw roughly 20-50 patients daily, many of whom tested with regular-occurring blood sugars at 400mg/dl or higher due to their high-carb diets. Students examined and educated the community of Limon and its neighbors on the importance of foot-care and reducing blood sugar with proper diet and exercise.
In addition to diabetic care, FIMRC works to combat malnutrition, a common plague throughout Nicaragua communities. Students distributed meals, performed pre- and post-natal house calls to track weight and growth patterns of children, and educated new mothers on the importance of breastfeeding. Because FIMRC works in conjunction with Los Pipitos, an organization that helps children with physical or learning disabilities, our students had the opportunity to create lesson plans and hands-on activities with the children. FIMRC also runs a series of micro-insurance home checks. Families in this program live in shacks and are taught how to maintain proper living conditions inside and outside of their homes. Based on their abilities to maintain standards of cleanliness, such as keeping the outhouse closed, use proper water filters, keeping food covered and a designated home for livestock, families are awarded ‘points’ in a system that allows them to redeem points for upgrades to their homes.
Sai returned from her mission trip with a new perspective on health care and a renewed appreciation for both the big and little things that we often take for granted in our country: from clean drinking water to the power of educated women. “Most of the girls have children around the age of 15 and become the family care-takers”, she remembers, “This trip was an awesome experience and I learned so much.” Sai plans to return to Nicaragua during, or even after her residency, and hopes to pass the torch to another group of mission-driven students, “FIMRC does some amazing things in various locations and I highly encourage everyone to check it out and volunteer or donate!” For more information or to get involved, visit https://www.fimrc.org/.