PORT CARLING - Just years after lending a helping hand in one of the coldest places on earth, Jennifer Hammell is now planning to do humanitarian work in a more tropical climate.
This spring, the second-year University of Ottawa health sciences undergraduate has plans to spend a week in Cusco, Peru, where she will be shadowing medical professionals as they help locals in a mobile clinic. Hammell will be making the trip through MEDLIFE – a humanitarian group that focuses on improving education, medicine and development in poor communities of Latin American countries.
The Port Carling native, who previously did humanitarian work in Nunavut as part of a Grade 12 exchange program, says she’s looking forward to seeing first-hand what doctors, pharmacists and other health-care professionals do for those less fortunate in Latin America.
“In Canada, I would never have this opportunity to actually go and be able to work with patients. It’s very hard to get into any of the hospitals here to volunteer,” she said. “It’s experiencing it and seeing what other people are going through … and gaining more humility and realizing how lucky you are.”
Slated to take place between April 27 and May 5, the trip involves having the approximately 30 mobile clinic volunteers travel to a variety of communities, where they will deliver health care and health education to locals.
The group will also spend a day building one piece of infrastructure to improve the lives of locals, which can range from a simple staircase to hygiene-related projects.
Hammell has dreams of becoming a doctor someday, but says she’s currently undecided on what field of medicine she wants to pursue.
“I’m hoping this trip might give me some direction in what I might want to be,” she said.
After all the hard work is done, the trip also includes two days of “cultural tourism,” where participants will get to visit a number of landmarks that include the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.
“I’m really excited to go and experience something I’ve never experienced,” she said. “Since I want to be a doctor, it’s really exciting to be actually able to go and help people.”
Hammell is currently seeking donations from fellow Muskokans to make the trip a reality. She is aiming to raise $3,358. Half of that amount will go toward funding her trip, while the other half will be donated to support MEDLIFE’s operational costs for the mobile clinic.
Donations and more information about Hammell’s fundraising campaign can be found by visiting medlifeweb.org/campaigns/jenniferhammell.
“I’ll appreciate any donations, and I’ll make sure that any donations anyone contributes will be well used at the clinic,” she said.