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A Firsthand Look at Healthcare in the Philippines

Biology major Sarah Durham '20 participated in a summer medical fellowship in the Philippines.

Sarah Durham ’20, a biology major and recipient of the College’s prestigious Dr. John Bowman Allwein Full-Tuition Scholarship, always wanted to be involved with medicine. 

She also wanted to explore the world—not for pleasure but to care for others. 

This summer, she participated in the Summer International Health Fellowship under the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) in Cavite, Philippines. Durham used the annual stipend provided as part of her Allwein Scholarship to help cover expenses related to the internship.

“I wanted to volunteer in medicine. My grandfather was born and raised in the Cavite province. When I found FIMRC, I knew precisely that the summer fellowship was what I wanted,” Durham said.

Her duties included psycho-social activities such as card games, toys, and coloring, community-based health projects and programs that endorse health prevention, and shadowing doctors, nurses, and midwives. Durham kept busy, but she recognized the cultural differences in the healthcare system. 

“The healthcare system in the Philippines is so variable across the country. Often, entire provinces operate without technology and with minimal resources. Many people have limited access to healthcare. The experience I gained from interacting with healthcare systems across the world is invaluable. It’s imperative to know that volunteers are helping when they arrive, but also providing skills and resources that are sustainable, so they are not hurting the community when they leave,” Durham said. 

Since attending LVC, Durham has participated in many learning opportunities outside the classroom, including a one-week study abroad trip to London, research with Dr. Kristen Boeshore, director of pre-health professions and assistant professor of biology, two internships with WellSpan Health, and a volunteer experience with Maximo Nivel, a study abroad and educational organization in Peru. She credits the College for helping her explore the world. 

“The experiences I’ve had as an LVC student taught me that life is more about being than doing. I learned historical sites, wonders of the world, and beautiful landscapes all start to blur together, but I will never forget the people I met when traveling. I try to be the best global citizen I can be, and for me, that involves helping others and a whole lot of empathy,” Durham said. 



-- Huntre Keip, Marketing & Communications Intern