An Enlightening Experience

BoliviaIt is only Day 5 on this Bolivia trip, and so far it is such a humbling and enlightening experience.  I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to come here and to help make positive change.  The trip isn’t nearly halfway done, and I already feel myself growing as a person.  The simplicity in the lifestyle of the indigenous people here in Bolivia is something to admire- they live so happily and peacefully with almost no materialistic possessions.

It really makes you reflect on life and how we live in America, the land of consumerism.  But of course, even though the people here may be content with their way of life, they certainly are not comfortable with their personal situations.  Domestic violence is among the most prevalent issues in the area, and the the clinic we are volunteering with aims to eradicate the pain and suffering of women, among other things.  The founders of the clinic we are currently working with are also the same people who initiated the MAP-Bolivia program, which is a truly exceptional program.  MAP-Bolivia was started by our host, Brisa DeAngulo’s parents, who are natives of Columbia.  DeAngulo is a graduate of the Rutgers School of Law-Camden.

Sadly, Bolivia is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, so being the dedicated and passionate people they are, they decided to come here to make change.  MAP-Bolivia is home to many service projects where it serves to help the people of Bolivia live a better and safe life, such as adding cement to brick walls on the houses to prevent vinchucas from coming in the house (the bug that causes Chagas disease), or sponsoring a free cataract check-up program. The beauty of MAP-Bolivia is to not impose Western medical practices and beliefs on the people; it is to help the people attain the change they are seeking. From a nursing perspective, that is exactly what we are taught to do. We need to be the patient’s advocate and serve them and their needs. What MAP-Bolivia is doing here is such a beautiful, extraordinary thing and being a part of something so wonderful is such an honor.

By Zainab Poonawalla, sophomore nursing and political science major at RutgersNewark

Rutgers students from various academic disciplines are blogging from a service learning trip to Bolivia this winter. They are sharing their experiences with RutgersCamden NewsNow.

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