By Trishya Srinivasan
I have been involved with Timmy Global Health since eighth grade, when I volunteered for a local service project. Little did I know that what started out as a fun student activity – raking leaves to raise funds for the organization – would lead to a deeper involvement, and eventually, one of my most passionate missions in life.
As a high school sophomore, I went on my first Timmy trip to Quito, Ecuador. This trip was a significant experience for me – I got to see how high school students came together as a cohesive team to help the community. Whether they were working together on education, teaching kids about personal/dental hygiene, or building safe stoves to prevent illnesses caused by smoke inhalation, I knew what we were doing was powerful. On this trip I was also able to see firsthand the result of our fundraising efforts – a state-of-the-art hospital in Quito. The grandeur of the hospital amazed me, but, even more amazing, was that my friends and I had contributed to something that will serve that community for a very long time.
This is when I realized that it is possible to provide medical care and expand it to places where it is most needed – even for a high school student. And, most importantly, it is imperative that we do so. This realization led me to become more involved in Timmy as a high school liaison to the Board of Directors, as my high school chapter’s president, and, eventually, as an intern in the Timmy office. These experiences gave me the opportunity to see the administrative side of Timmy in detail, to understand from start to finish how Timmy’s services are provided.
My passion for Timmyâ€™s mission has since driven me to start a Timmy Global Health student chapter at the University of Pennsylvania with a few friends who are also passionate about global health. A couple of weeks ago, some of the other student leaders and myself attended Timmy’s annual college chapter conference in Indianapolis. Throughout the weekend-long conference, I not only met empowering individuals from all over the country, all interested in global health, but I also got to experience a much more hands-on side of Timmy.
I think I realized for the first time that the student chapters and, in particular, the student leaders, are truly the heart and soul of this organization. From the outside, our 1-2 week medical service trips may seem easy – many of the volunteers have a near seamless experience when traveling to work in Timmy’s clinics. But, in reality, these trips take an entire year of planning… For months, students raise funds for their partner organization, collect vitamins and other medicines, recruit medical professionals and volunteers, and network within their own communities to spread the infectious Timmy love. So for me, the best part of this year’s conference was learning about what other chapters are doing on their campuses to increase awareness about health disparities and spread the word about Timmy’s amazing work.
Student chapters all over the country are hosting events ranging from global health awareness weeks, to womenâ€™s health clinics, to â€œFasting for Timmyâ€ advocacy days – where students pledge to fast for a day to understand how malnourished children live. In sharing our different chapters’ events and project, I was also reminded that a college studentâ€™s Timmy involvement doesn’t just stop there. Instead, each of these students are all in positions to inspire others to get involved in global health – whether it’s through participating in a medical service trip or volunteering at a local hypertension clinic – their active engagement with health disparities is incredibly powerful.
I am certain that my journey with Timmy Global Health and my passion about health equity will continue far beyond college, just as it did beyond high school. Timmy is the reason I developed a passion for global health – and my engagement in global health, understanding of health disparities, and quest for health equity will be a life-long journey. I’m excited to stay connected with the student leaders I met at the college conference, and see how their work with Timmy transforms their lives as well.