My name is Sarah Swartz. I am a rising junior at Claremont McKenna College. Currently, I am a biology-history dual major with a sequence in human rights. The youngest of four kids and the only girl, I’ve always had strong opinions and a loud personality. However, this summer’s adventure will probably tame much of my rambunctious qualities. During the spring semester, I applied and was accepted to receive funding to volunteer with Child Family Health International. I will be doing two programs: HIV/AIDS and Healthcare in Durban and Healthcare Challenges in Cape Town. Several other students will also be participating in CFHI programs in South America and India. In an attempt to prepare for South Africa, I researched the effect of gender-based violence on HIV/AIDS. I am really looking forward to understanding my research by seeing the healthcare side of the issue. However, my interest in CFHI stems more from my passion for limiting the effect of socio-economic status on quantity and quality of healthcare.
Beginning in my childhood, I wanted to be a doctor probably because my father was a physician. However, after taking AP Biology in high school, I quickly gave up that dream. During my freshman year in college, I attended a talk by an amazing man named Deogratias. During his speech, he showed a picture of a little boy who he informed us later died because of a disease which is easily curable. This picture, for some reason, reminded me of my nephew Jack. When Jack was three years old, he had to be put on a respirator. He needed some high-tech medicines and treatments, but he survived. Jack is now a healthy, rowdy, and sweet five year old. When I learned that the boy in the photograph who only needed a handful of pills died while my nephew lived, I attempted to come up with an answer for a logical answer for why? Why did my nephew deserve to live and that young boy in the photograph die? There is no answer; both of those boys deserved a chance at life.
Over the past decade, I have learned to accept the limits of science. However, I still cannot really understand how the major determinant of whether someone lives or dies is money. I’m not trying to preach, simply explain my main motivation. I hope to become a doctor who creates sustainable clinics around the world, but I realize I have got a whole lot to learn before I can really even think about how to accomplish this goal. The Center for Human Rights Leadership at CMC is allowing me the opportunity to truly begin my learning process.
In all honesty, I do not truly know what I will be doing with in South Africa. I know I will be living in a homestay in both Durban and Cape Town and work in clinics five hours a day. I am incredibly excited to be living in a homestay with two teachers and their three children. Well, their children are actually young adults; the youngest is 21. I do not know what my host family will be like in Cape Town. I leave thursday and arrive in Durban on Saturday. Although much of my actual responsibilities are still a mystery to me, I am sure that this is going to be an unforgettable, amazing, and enlightening experience!
Disclaimer: I am rather new at this whole “blogging” concept, and this blog is for academic purposes.