We at the Making a Difference Foundation believe in the power of igniting the passion of medical providers through medical missions. We accomplish this by partnering with world class organizations like CHOICE Humanitarian. CHOICE provides opportunities for providers to offer healthcare education in some of the most secluded areas. Many times, we are the first outsiders some of these villagers have come into contact with.
Since 1982 CHOICE has held the belief that extreme poverty can be eradicated. Extreme poverty is defined by the World Bank Group as living on an average of $1.90 a day or less. It is estimated that 8.6% of the world’s population lives in these conditions. The good news is that number has continued to decline over the last few decades.
CHOICE takes an empowering approach to address these conditions in 7 countries: Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Kenya, and Nepal. Their model focuses on development, not relief. The villages identify and manage their development processes. When a team arrives, it is at the request of the villages, and the team helps to complete projects that are already in progress. When healthcare is considered the same approach is applied.
Healthcare education is the primary focus when going into a CHOICE village. You may question why. If providers have skills to treat, why not allow them to? When working in an area where the most pressing health concern is clean sustainable water, it just makes sense to teach water purification, hand washing, first aid, CPR, and reproductive health. These skills will last throughout a lifetime when taught properly.
Additionally, CHOICE focuses heavily on becoming global citizens. Our providers return to the US with a greater understanding of utilizing every resource to its full capacity. Dr. Doug Fein was so full of gratitude after his mission in 2019, that when he reflected on his experience it brought him to tears. Doug chose this mission because of his highly specialized skillset as a radiation oncologist; he understood they would not have a 3-million-dollar piece of equipment on the mission, so he agreed to provide care through education. While serving, an opportunity presented itself for him to speak with a woman who was diagnosed with cancer. She had no idea what her diagnosis meant until Dr. Fein compassionately spoke with her asking her questions and attentively listening to her story. She shared with the in-country team how just having him sit with her brought about more relief than she has felt since her initial diagnosis.
While individuals living in extreme poverty may not have monetary wealth they certainly have love and compassion that transcends their economic status. Our providers always speak of the happiness and contentment of the beautiful people they share life with over the course of seven to ten days. Those providers return home with a little more compassion, a little more patience, and an experience that shapes their lives to last a lifetime. We give a little, they give a little, and the world is a little bit more of a better place.