Natalie Brown: Looking forward to a new service experience

Each week I’m becoming more and more excited for this service trip to Pampas Grande, especially after learning about the community’s healthcare system and the projects we will work on to help the people there. I’ve seen the powerpoints and the pictures depicting life in Pampas Grande and heard stories, and now I’m feeling eager to finally arrive there and see it all for myself. I’m eager to embark on my first trip to South America, to continue practicing my Spanish, to make new friends, to interact with the people in the community and support them in any way possible, and hopefully in return, learn from them.

The last time I participated in a service trip was for Habitat for Humanity in Miami, where we helped build, paint, and tile a house for a single mother and her three kids. I loved how equally rewarding the experience was for both myself and for the mother, and to have a similar or even more rewarding experience in Peru seemed like an amazing opportunity. I have always wanted to travel abroad for some sort of service trip, and I’m thankful for having the chance to work together with such a diverse group of undergraduates, graduates, and healthcare professionals.

Natalie painting a house for Habitat for Humanity in Miami, FL

Natalie's Habitat for Humanity service group

It’s difficult for me to feel passionate about one particular issue that RGHA will tackle in Pampas Grande since I haven’t attended the trip yet and am uncertain of the role I will play in the various projects we will work on. However, I do know one thing. While I was able to help make a substantial, if not lifelong, impact on somebody’s life when building a house through Habitat for Humanity, I know that I may not exactly have the chance to in Peru. It’s not feasible to provide lifelong supplies of medications and care to this community, but it is possible to make some sort of impact. I think it’s important to realize going into the trip that though there are some issues that cannot be fixed or eliminated in a short two-week period, there are improvements and impacts that can be made in the short term, and that will make a difference.

Natalie Brown is an undergraduate student at the University of Richmond. She will visit Peru with RGHA for the first time this June.