NSU students to travel to Ecuador on medical mission

From March 2 to 10, 15 members of NSU’s Multicultural Association for Pre-Health Students (MAPS) will participate in a MEDLIFE medical mission trip to Ecuador.

The students will be working in impoverished areas of the country, increasing awareness of health issues, participating in construction projects and working to improve locals’ access to medicine and education.

MAPS is currently raising funds to cover the costs of the medical supplies and donations for the trip. A fundraiser at Menchie’s frozen yogurt in Davie will be held on February 16th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Customers who mention “NSU MEDLIFE” will have 20 percent of their proceeds donated to the trip.

MEDLIFE is an international nonprofit medical organization that gives pre-health college students an opportunity to work in less developed countries.  Unlike other well-known humanitarian aid organizations that have worked with NSU, such as Samaritan’s Purse, MEDLIFE is not a religious-affiliated organization.

Faria Fatmi, junior biology major, is looking forward to the trip as an opportunity to serve others while maintaining a tie to her career goal.

“As college students, we partake in so many events just to ensure we are in good standing when applying to graduate school,” Fatmi said. “In the midst of this, we forget that our long-term goal is centered on the community we live in and giving back.”

MAPS President Nancy Sarmiento, senior biology major, introduced the organization to NSU when she invited a MEDLIFE representative to give several presentations on campus.

Sarmiento said, “I had heard great things about the organization and the opportunities they create, so I made it a goal to plan a mission trip by the end of my senior year.”

The number of students participating in the trip increased from five to 15 after the presentations, adding NSU to the list of universities with established MEDLIFE chapters.

“This is the first year MEDLIFE is working with NSU, and I am so excited for the opportunities this organization can bring to students in future years,” said Sarmiento.

This spring break, the students will be staying at a hotel in Atacames, Ecuador, and will travel to Esmeraldas, Quito and Otavalo.

Noemi Bermudez, junior biology major, said, “This trip will be all the more special for me because I was born in Ecuador. It is an amazing opportunity to serve people while visiting my beautiful country.”

MAPS is still seeking donations to fund its endeavor. Each student was responsible for paying his or her own travel fee from MEDLIFE of $679.50. The fundraising efforts currently underway are to raise money solely for supplies and donations, such as toys, vitamins, bandages and medicine. Bermudez and Fatmi will each use one of their suitcases to transport the donated items.

Bermudez said, “We also had to buy our airfare separately, which was about $500 per person, but thankfully we will all be traveling together.”

This trip will introduce participants to real-world applications of their studies, and is an opportunity that many students are taking to gain familiarity with their future careers.

Bermudez said, “Ultimately, I want to be a Christian medical missionary, and this will be a taste of what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

To donate to the MEDLIFE trip, visit MAPS’s fundraising page at youcaring.com/mission-trip-fundraiser/NSU-MEDLIFE-/39124

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