By Matt Nolan
When I set out to volunteer with Timmy Global Health in Ecuador this summer, my main goal was to improve my Spanish. But I got so much more. As a medical student, working with Timmy was an important reminder of why I chose medicine in the first place â€” it allowed for human interactions, stripped of the distractions and bureaucracy that so often puts distance between patients and caregivers in the U.S. My time with Timmyâ€™s staff and the other volunteers was inspirational â€” what an amazing group of people. I felt incredibly lucky to work with them.
Throughout my time in Ecuador, I was especially impressed by the student volunteers that came to serve in Timmyâ€™s medical clinicsâ€” their dedication, enthusiasm, and creativity had a powerful effect on me. Maybe I was jealous actually… Jealous of their early international experience, their early exposure to medicine, and the invaluable leadership experience that they inevitably gained from working with Timmy. After working alongside them, itâ€™s hard not to think about how my own path to medicine might have been positively affected had I had a chance to be a Timmy student chapter member when I was in college. I think that Timmyâ€™s work on college campuses fills an important void that exists in todaysâ€™ passive education system.
By empowering students and encouraging them to turn their ideas into actions, and actions into a positive impact, Timmy is showing student leaders all over the country how to transform their own theories of development into a real and powerful change. In this sense, I have come to learn that Timmy is much more than just an international service provider. The ripple effects that flow from Timmyâ€™s points of impact are just as valuable in the U.S. as they are in the developing countries where Timmy works – hence the name: Timmy Global Health.Â
After spending a summer working with such an amazing organization, and truly incredible staff members and volunteers, itâ€™s hard not to be inspired to reflect on how I can make an impact, not just abroad – but at home too. When I got home from Ecuador, I applied for a grant to start a â€œfinancial advocacyâ€ group at Boston Medical Center. Â My thoughts were that I could help to improve other peoplesâ€™ physical and mental health by improving their financial health. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but recognizing that I could turn this idea into a reality is something I can directly attribute to my time as a long-term Timmy volunteer. So to me, the idea of “Timmy” and what it means to engage in the movement for health equity, is much more than international medical service provision. Timmy stands for an important vision, a necessary concept – that by leveraging hearts and minds for students, future medical professionals, doctors, community volunteers, and anyone else touched by this idea – itâ€™s very possible to make a positive impact in this world. One step at a time.