Friday, February 6, 2015

Summer 2015 Spiti Expedition with Himalayan Health Exchange

My trips to Haiti planted a seed- a need to keep traveling, experiences different cultures, meeting beautiful people and understanding how something so omnipresent as healthcare manifests itself in different places.  In Haiti, I fell in love with people and medicine and as I navigate through my first year of Medical School it become hard to remember that.  So it is off to the mountains again for me, only this time the mountains are significantly more daunting.

I am ecstatic to announce that I will be traveling with a team of around 25 medical students, nursing students, Board certified physicians, and dentists to the Indo-Tibetan border with the Himalayan Health Exchange.  HHE, a non-profit health outreach program founded in 1996 that provides healthcare to 4 remote regions of the Indian Himalayas.  The annual healthcare provided in these regions helps to supplement the extremely scare access to healthcare in these remote regions.  The existing programs provides an established relationship with village leaders, regional and state government representatives, and medical networks.  The mission of HHE is to "provide medical and dental care to the underserved people living in remote regions of the Indian Himalayas".  Profits from expeditions are generated only from participants- all of the education and healthcare provided to individuals at the clinics is free.  This profit supports the organization, a special needs school in Himachal Pradesh and an orphanage in Tabo, Spiti.  HHE is also involved in Project Heart and the Himalayan Health Center hospital in Manali.  Project Heart is a program that funds education about early treatment for streptococcal pharyngitis and complications that may arise such as rheumatic heart disease and includes annual surgical trips to the Himalayas to preform heart valve replacements.

My trip will be to Spiti, a thinly populated region (one person per square mile).  Healthcare access in Spiti is extremely limited due to the high altitude and remoteness.  The area includes the village of Kibber, the world's highest permanent human settlement.  My expedition starts in Chandigarh and will take me through ancient Buddhist land that was restricted to travel until 1992.  We will be traveling for a little over 3 weeks through the Trans-Himalayan region providing free healthcare in clinics set up in schools, monasteries and tents with the help of interpreters.  We will provide healthcare to approximately 1600 patients and help arrange follow up care with the state owned hospitals as necessary.  Throughout each expedition care is coordinated with local healthcare system and cultures through open communication with the state health department and local leaders.

Throughout this enlightening experience I am not expecting to "change the world".  My experiences in Haiti, global health education and conversations with global health physicians so far during my first year of Medical School have taught me that it takes years to establish a relationship with a community and this is a daunting and impossible task for any medical student.  However, I have learned that in order to fall in love with the world and strive to be a global health physician early clinical exposure is imperative.  This experience will allow me to gain an understanding of a practicing health care in remote settings under new cultural practices with limited resources.  It will also tremendously supplement my clinical exposure and help develop my ability to work as a healthcare team.  I decided that I want to dedicated my summer to working with patients because clinical exposure is extremely limited during first year of Med School leaving little opportunity to integrate the mass amount of knowledge thrown at us with patient care.  With HHE I will be working under the supervision of a physician and will be practicing most of the skills I learned this year in my  clinical skills course.  Additionally I will have the opportunity to analyze and present cases with fellow medical and nursing students after each clinic and attend lectures about local healthcare and traditions.  This invaluable exposure will certainly further me on my way to becoming a physician dedicated to a career in global health.

Unfortunately and fortunately, there is a fee associated with this trip.  I say fortunately because the fee helps provide funding to the organizations I mentioned above and allows this non-profit to provide FREE healthcare to these remote communities.  Unfortunately, I am currently funding almost my entire medical school education with loans and am unable to fund the cost of this trip.  I am seeking help with fundraising for the trip costs that totals around $4500.  These costs include international airfare, meals, medical supplies, a few nights of hotel accommodations, tents while on the road and visits to monasteries.  I understand it is a lot to ask for donations but if anyone feels like they are financially capable of supporting me on my journey I encourage you to help out!  I appreciate all the support I have received from family and friends thus far in supporting me on my past medical trips.  I thank everyone in advance for your consideration to helping me reach my funding goals!

If you are interested in donating please use the secure paypal donate button to the right of this post. ( The donation page still says "supplies for Haiti" but the money will be used for HHE. )

For more information about HHE and their programs in the Indian Himalayas please visit their website:

Thank you for all your support!

Spiti Valley

A picture taken from a clinic site from a past participants blog:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Kelsey and Shannon get Conquered by Haiti... or our bags

Tomorrow nice and early( thanks to this springing forward time change) we will be on our plane to Port-Au-Prince! However, we are still not positive if the country has decided to observe daylights saving or not this year...  guess we will find out.  Last year they did, but they usually don't.

Your donations totaled over $1000!! This surpassed our goal and allowed us to buy all of the medical and teaching supplies we needed!  We'd like to thank everyone for your support!  We'd also like to thank the Conn Chemistry and Biology departments and the Conn EMS club for money and donations!!

We have FOUR huge duffel bags filled with medicines, first aid supplies, vitamins, teaching supplies, textbooks and treats for the children!

We are ready to embark on our adventure!  Be back March 18th! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Supplies and Shipping Woes.

This pile of supplies is the start of what we want to fill our 6 jump kits with!  Thank you donors for money, a lot of it went to these supplies.  All of this cost $420 and we still need to buy gloves, masks, condoms, band-aids, alcohol, H202, soap and hand sanitizer.  On top of that we are buying school supplies or looking for donations of large sheets of white roll paper, crayons, markers, and lollipops for kids, etc.  Other funds are needed for printing posters, colouring pages, demo supplies and SHIPPING!  We need tremendous help for shipping these supplies.  United airline offers NO help for people shipping medical supplies for a charity therefore we are looking at a $150 fee on top of $40 per bag if they are overweight.  We will probably be using $600-700 of the donated money towards medical supplies and school stuff.  That leaves us with $50 for shipping.  Please consider donating to help us get our supplies there! Airlines are ridiculous we already paid $600 for our flight out of our own pockets and now need some help getting everything there.  I mean after all we are just trying to help a community of people, you'd think these corporations would get that. 

Thanks for the continued support!  Donations will be accepted until March 4th.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Guess what everyone? This time next month Kelsey and I will be on our way to Haiti with our massive amount of supplies!  And it will definitely be warmer than what Nemo has left all of us in the Northeast with.

We have officially raised $735 thanks to everyone who has donated through here, through the newspaper articles and through the chemistry department at Conn.  We cannot express how grateful we are to all of you!  We would love to raise even more in order to buy everything we originally planned for so if you have not donated yet and think you would like to support a great cause go right ahead :-)  Our ideal goal would be $1000!

Now we have to start buying supplies, making first aid kits and planning lessons to teach!  If anyone has any opinions on great first aid lessons for us to plan feel free to leave a comment or let us know. You have all helped us so much and you deserve a say in what we will teach.

Thanks for all the support and keep the donations coming!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Kelsey and I combined have $500 of donations from you lovely supportive readers!  We are a little more than halfway to our goal of $800-900 for all the supplies we need to buy before our trip in March!  Please continue to help with your generous support, we can't do it without you!  Every little bit helps :-)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Flights Booked!

Our flights for Port-Au-Prince are officially booked for March 10th!  Now all of our preparation efforts are towards lesson planning, finding teaching material in Haitian Creole and first aid supply purchasing!

Would your life be the same with 10 less dollars? If so please consider what life saving equipment that $10 could buy. With $10 you could buy a one way valve CPR mask that can provide someone in cardiac arrest with oxygen, while providing protection to the rescuer; it could buy you a box of gloves to help protect teachers from their students contagious bodily fluids and help stop the spread of cholera, it could buy a splint to help immobilize an injury, the list continues. If donating $10 to buy these supplies would not impact your life I'm asking you to please consider it and the help it would provide. In order to make an impact on our trip we need help to buy supplies. Please consider helping us, thank you! :-) 

Please considering donating to our cause, we organized this trip on our own and are funding our own accommodations and flights to get there, now we need the help of others to carry out our projects!  Many medical trips that college students take ask for a ridiculously large fee ($3000) which the students have to fundraise, but what most people don't know is that that 3000 is going to the large organization, not the individual communities.  Our self-designed project is not through a large organization or our college.  We are alone in our efforts and are responsible for bringing all the supplies we need and these supplies are going directly to the community.  We can't do it without your help!

I want to thank everyone who has donated thus far! Your contribution will go directly towards buying the teaching materials and first aid supplies necessary to make our trip meaningful with a long lasting impact on the Haitians in the community.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Supply Needs and Running the Numbers

Hey Everyone,
I've gotten more information about the specifics of what types of supplies and how many we should be bringing with us on our trip.  Here's the deal, the community we will be working with does NOT have these supplies, nor do they have access to them.  That means that the numbers they gave us are a bare minimum for the amount I hope to bring.  I want these supplies to be able to provide a long lasting resource for the people and I hope that through our seminars with the teachers and students that they will be able to pass that information on to others.

Here are the numbers:

-The primary school that HAC is located out of has 300 students and 21 teachers.
-We will be traveling to 4-5 other schools each with their own number of students and teachers.
-There are 143 teachers in the union- who we may have a teaching seminar with.
-This alone means that we will have to bring a minimum of 400-600 copies of first aid/ public health brochures... in creole.

First Aid Kits:
-We would like to bring at least as many kits as schools we will be visiting but prefer bring much more than this.  Let's aim for at least 10 kits.
-we have the choice to either create our own or buy pre-packaged kits.  Regardless we will be buying supplemental equipment such as oral and nasal airways, pocket masks, blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes which are not typically found in average first aid kits.
The cost of this will run anywhere from $50-$80 per kit.  If we strive to bring at least 10 kits that would be $500-800

We will then have to ship all of these materials with us.
-That's $25-$50 per extra check in baggage at airport
-Plus shipping containters such as these: that run from $20-50

I hope these numbers help when you make your decision to donate or not to our cause.  Your money as before will go solely towards buying this equipment, none of it will be used to fund our own travel expenses (we are taking care of that ourselves).  Please remeber than any small amount of donation will be so helpful in allowing us to continue with our project, so that we can provide long lasting support and resources for the people of Croix-des-Bouquets.

p.s here is a recent video from HAC explaining their mission and showing the work they do

Your support is so greatly appreciated! Thank you so much,