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FIU sends first medical brigade to Nicaragua during alternative Breaks


In March 2013, nine members of the pre-medical honors group Students Taking Initiative Through Collaboration in Honors (STITCH) became FIU’s first medical brigade to work in Nicaragua during alternative Breaks.

Students Ephraim Mansour, Zina Doctorovich, Patricia Perez, Amy Diaz, Alyssa Cheleotis, Eduardo Davila, Patricia Araujo, Natalie Cortez, and Jennifer Narvaez met, organized and raised funds for five months to make the trip a reality. With the financial backing of their friends, families, classmates, as well as some funds from the Honors College and the Center for Leadership and Service, they spent their Spring Break making a difference in the lives of people that would not otherwise be able to receive or afford health care.

Once in Nicaragua, the students worked alongside faculty and final-year medical students from the Universidad Católica Agropecuaria del Trópico Seco (UCATSE) in makeshift field clinics in the northern region of Estelí, Nicaragua. Together they provided free medical and dental services to more than 300 Nicaraguans. They also volunteered at “Casa Materna,” a center for pregnant women that educates mothers on proper pre- and post-natal care to combat the high infant mortality in rural areas.

“What I hope to keep from this experience and bring in to my professional life is to never forget to keep the human component at the forefront of any interaction I may have,” said Mansour, the honors pre-med student site leader.

STITCH was among five groups that traveled to Nicaragua during the spring session of alternative Breaks. The collective group represented the largest contingency set to a single country in the organization’s 17-year history. The groups were guided by Panorama Service Expeditions, a travel company that specializes in service projects in Nicaragua and is owned and operated by FIU alumnus Norman Uriate.

Below is the first video in a series chronicling the journey of these students.