The UMHS American Medical Women’s Association visited the St. Christopher Children’s Home in St. Kitts on Sunday, November 4, 2018, educating young adults about sexual and reproductive health.
The UMHS Endeavour spoke to AMWA members and AMWA President and EBS 4 student Nina Madjer about the event. The visit centered around the AMWA members teaching Sexual Health Education to the young people at the St. Christopher Children’s Home, and included members from nearly all the semesters, from EBS 1 up to Med 4. AMWA is an organization functioning at the local, national and international level to advance women in medicine and includes Caribbean medical schools like UMHS.
“One group of six students began by giving the presentation to the boys followed by another group of six students teaching the girls,” Ms. Madjer said. “We discussed puberty, female and male anatomical structures, menstruation, sperm production, pregnancy, fetal development and the main STDs in the Caribbean. We gave the children opportunities to see images, openly discuss topics of sexual health and ask any questions that they had.”
AMWA distributed special gifts before the presentation.
“We brought the house mothers brand-new kitchen equipment and supplies, as well as an individually personalized gift for each child,” Ms. Madjer said.
After the presentations, the residents of the home were given tickets to the UMHS’ Got Talent show, co-hosted by AMWA and STEPS, with all proceeds from the show going to the Children’s Home.
“Our goal for this event was to enhance the existing relationship between UMHS and the community of St. Kitts by working in collaboration with the St. Christopher Children’s Home,” Ms. Madjer said. “Community service, both local and global, is such an incredible way for student doctors to do more. It is my hope, that teaching these children and spending time with them, made as big of an impact on them as it did on us.”
Testimonials from Student Volunteers
Ms. Madjer sent us testimonials from some of the UMHS students volunteering at the event.
The following are samples of what students found so rewarding about the experience.
“Having the opportunity to participate in this enriching experience has shown me that there is so much more we can do as medical students,” said Katiushka Guilliani, EBS 4, AMWA Vice President. “Being able to share our knowledge with children very eager to learn was gratifying and humbling.”
Marilyn Perez, EBS 4, AMWA Secretary, said, “As students, we often tend to become so caught up with our studies that at times it may seem a bit overwhelming. It is a true joy to be able to go out into the community and create these relationships that not only help reinforce our commitment to society, but also allow us to maintain a focus on why we chose to take this path with our lives. I am positive that this is just the beginning of a very strong connection with the St. Christopher’s Children’s Home.”
“It was an amazing experience being able to share and apply what we have learned with the children of St. Kitts. Being able to help educate the community is just one of the steps on our journey of becoming doctors but it allows us to see the big picture and acknowledge that all the effort that we put into our education will pay off,” said Alexa Datko, MED 4, AMWA Treasurer.
“The visit we made to the St. Christopher’s Children’s Home was an experience I would remember and treasure forever; we got the opportunity to share our knowledge as medical students, on topics about sexuality, STDs and prevention,” said Laura Mercedes Rodriguez, EBS 4, AMWA Co-Treasurer. “Personally I found that modifying medical terminology into a simpler language, which the kids would understand, was definitely a challenge. But by overcoming it, we achieved our goal: to educate them. Additionally, I was so delighted by spending time with them in a different setting: on our annual talent show – UMHS Got Talent; they had so much fun singing and dancing along.”
“My experience at the St. Cristopher’s Children Home showed me that being a doctor is not only about perseverance, but also about giving to others,” said Emily Vazquez Morales, MED 4, AMWA Social Media Coordinator. “This is something I had lost sight of over the past year, until I had the privilege of spending time with the kids of St. Christopher Children’s home. They were so open and appreciative of us and what we had to say. It brought back the part of me that missed community outreach as an up and coming health professional. So instead of them saying thanks to us, I would like to thank them. They restored in me the most important reason of why I want to be a doctor.”
“My best experiences have always been with kids, and this time was no exception,” said Christiane Martell-Rodriguez, EBS 3.” Every time I do something for a child, I think of what they do for me. At St. Christopher Children’s Home, I went in thinking I was going to teach them, but it wasn’t like that. Spending time with them made my empathy and humanity grow. Instead of giving a lesson, I took a lesson from them. With this experience I took innocent and sweet smiles to my heart, and these smiles are the perfect reason to keep volunteering and doing these things I share a passion for.”
“It was a beautiful experience to see these young adults not only eager, but also engaged in what we were teaching,” said Leysha Rodriguez, EBS 3. “I’m thankful that they had the confidence to ask us questions related to the topic without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable.”
“It was such a great opportunity to go out into our community and teach the youth about things they may not have had the chance to learn until later in their lives,” said Chinenye Iguh, EBS 4.” Awareness is the first step of prevention, so being able to share some of the things we have been learning while being in medical school was simply a wonderful experience.”
“For me, it was a privilege having the opportunity to share a little of our knowledge,” said Betzaida Torres Vazquez, EBS 3.” It was really wonderful knowing how happy they reacted to our visit and how ready they were to learn. These are the things that reassure me that I’m really doing the right thing, and I’m where I want to be.”
“Having an opportunity to give back to the St. Kitts community in a way that was relevant to our discipline was an amazing experience,” said Jasleen Singh, MED 3. “Being able to share our knowledge with students who were actively listening and participating in our presentation made me feel like we are already making a difference despite still being students ourselves.”
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