CECYTEM-EMSAD is an organization located in the rural town of Poturo Michoacán, México. The weather is incredibly insane because one day we have temperatures of over 108 degrees Fahrenheit with 80% humidity, while other days there is non-stop rain with severe thunder and lightning. It is very incredible to see the differences in culture and customs that this Mexican community practices and for me to learn about their intercultural roots. Although, I walk a distance of about an hour and fifteen minutes every day to get to my internship site despite rain or shine, this experience provides me with further insight into the struggles and challenges these families face while living in impoverished conditions. They have very limited access to health care and education, and the nearest hospital is located about six hours on bus from the town.
CECYTEM-EMSAD is affiliated with the Secretaría de Educación Gobierno del Estado of Michoacán Mexico, meaning that this agency’s funding is provided directly from the government. They obtain a limited budget, but despite this challenge the organization tries to deliver the best quality health care and education that they can. The mission of this organization is to educate and provide health care assistance to people in need. The town’s population is 500 people, and all of them live in impoverished conditions. I spend a lot of time exploring the village and visiting families at their homes, which allows me to see the real living conditions of these families and assists me in adjusting the services and programs I am providing to this population to fit their lifestyles.
Most of the work that this organization does is provide very basic health care to children, teens, and adults. They also provide schooling for children and teens. However, this town is not technologically advanced and the organization itself does not have any new type of innovate medical or educational instruments that can provide better health and educational outcome for this population. At CECYTEM-EMSAD I form part of the organization’s committee and they consider me as the “right-hand” for this organization. They believe that as a foreigner I have been exposed to more experiences and have a well-rounded background both from my previous volunteer experiences and education that I can help alter this organization and help them obtain better health and educational outcomes.
I am the first intern for this organization, and I have various internship responsibilities at this site. First and foremost, the main goal of this internship, as discussed with my supervisor, is to develop activities and deliver services that strengthen the health and educational outcomes of this community. This will ultimately help solve health and educational disparities and strengthen the intercultural ties in Poturo. That said, I am working directly with the community doctor as his nurse assistant and take patient vitals as well as provide information sessions about psychological, nutrition and special needs for the healthy development of the children that attend the clinic. A large portion of the population that I am working with includes mothers with special needs children. Currently, I have three cases in progress. I am working individually with these mothers, providing support by by helping them understand better their child’s developmental disabilities. I also provide therapy to the children such as Speech, Occupational, Gym, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and other therapies.
I am also interning at the school and working directly with 126 teens. I am teaching them English and also speaking to them about sexual and preventative health care. I use very interactive activities and games to help these students learn and comprehend all the material I am presenting them with. Because school is almost over, my supervisor and I spoke and I will be delivering these services in small groups and individually, which is going to be closely supervised by my supervisor.
I found out about this internship through the help of my cousin. Last summer I had been searching about internships abroad and thought that Mexico would be the greatest place to intern because there is a lot of disparities when it comes to medical assistance and education. I got in contact with my supervisor in October and from there on we stayed in contact until now. He was a great support system and seems to trust me in all the cases and services I am delivering from the help of his organization to the people.
My first week was very chaotic and unforgettable. When I first saw the village and the clinic and school I was going to working at I could not believe it. There was sand and dirt everywhere and the suns rays beating down on my bare skin. Cows, horses, chickens, and other animals freely walking around, I was completely astonished. I saw the living conditions of these people and could not believe how they could survive in these conditions. I arrived late Monday night and on Tuesday June 17, 2014, my supervisor took me to the school introduced me to the staff and my work began.
I have made many new connections with the staff and students at the town. I can see that they see me as a new support system. I have also gained a lot of trust in the mothers that come to the clinic and I hope to work with many others. This is a very patriarchal society, and some of my views are questioned. However, I make sure that they understand that I did not come to change their customs, but rather open the door to new information and opportunities.
The biggest expectation that I hope to gain from this internship is altering the health and educational lives of many individuals. I want let them know about their rights, resources and integrate a new ideas into their system. I want to build a strong medical and social model in this community and let them know that although they can continue to visit their village “curandera,” they now have better access to health and information due to the implementation of my various services and programs, I began with collaboration with CECYTEM-EMSAD.