This is a guest post by Skylah Fregoso, Watsi Impact Intern
The importance of giving back and aiding communities in need of support is something that I began learning at a young age. One of my core memories from my childhood is riding in the bed of a truck with my grandparents at night, passing out toys during Christmas time to children in my community. It was a tradition created by my grandfather’s work, a local auto parts shop; we made sure to uphold it every year, and it became synonymous with the holiday season for our family. This tradition of giving eventually catapulted me into my passion for service, which developed further as I grew older and gained access not only to new means of giving but also to a deeper knowledge of the world and the inequalities that exist within it.
Coming from a small, lower-income community, it became apparent early on that there was a lack of resources for the people who needed them most. Witnessing devoted teachers, hardworking and essential field workers, young students, loving family members, and community members in general struggle to access essential resources that everyone deserves ignited a desire to do as much good as I can in order to fight against such inequities. These resources include–but definitely are not limited to–quality education, affordable housing, nutritious food, and healthcare. I learned that working to increase the good in the world is a duty that all people on this planet share and that doing so may look different for each individual, depending on their capacity.
In 2019, I received the amazing opportunity to attend The University of Chicago, a college over 2,000 miles away from the only home I had ever known. Not only was I accepted to the university, but I also received a significant amount of financial aid, funded by generous donors, which has allowed me to afford the cost of attendance. I was also able to attend a fully-funded summer program at the university before the start of my first year. This program was created to help first-generation, low-income college students prepare for college by offering university-level courses, providing access to advising, and creating a welcoming community, making the transition into college much easier.
After beginning classes at The University of Chicago and gaining access to resources that were once unimaginable, I knew that I needed to use my newfound privileges and expanded capacity to give back to those in need of support. When searching for a summer internship this year, I came across Watsi and noticed that they were looking for a summer intern. I was drawn in by Watsi’s powerful mission: to help expand access to healthcare across the globe, aided by technology and a team of passionate workers.
For the past six weeks, I have worked alongside this small but mighty and incredibly inspiring team to help make healthcare a reality for thousands of patients who would otherwise be forced to go without life-changing medical care, or who would be forced to go into debt and take extreme actions, such as selling their homes and belongings, in attempts to afford treatment.
As an Impact Intern, one of my daily tasks includes editing and sharing patients’ stories, which our medical partners from around the world send in. I have read and helped write over 200 patient profiles, each sharing a unique and heart-touching story about a person who is receiving medical treatment with the support of Watsi and our amazing community of donors. Just as my life was changed by unlocking access to educational resources that I could not have afforded alone, Watsi is changing lives everyday by providing a means for individuals around the world to gain access to healthcare through the support of generous donors.
One of the many lives Watsi has helped change is Jacenta’s. Jacenta is a mother from Uganda; she has five children, all currently enrolled in school.
Jacenta recently underwent a life-changing procedure, receiving a hysterectomy to treat her multiple uterine fibroids. This surgery relieved her of the painful symptoms her condition caused, and it left her happy and relieved to be feeling much better.
She shared that she almost sold off the small piece of land she owns in order to pay for the hospital bill. This land, and the farming she does on it, is how she is able to support her five children and fund their school fees.
With Watsi and an amazing community of donors, Jacenta will be able to return to farming once recovered and continue to live her life, free of the pain caused by her previous condition.
Jacenta is only one of the 25,000 people supported through Watsi's mission of expanding access to healthcare. With each story I read and share, I am filled with immense gratitude that these unique individuals are receiving the resources, support, and healthcare they deserve. I am honored to be a part of Watsi’s journey and to be able to contribute to the organization’s work in expanding healthcare and increasing equity across the globe. I have also enjoyed helping spread Watsi’s message and raising as much awareness as possible so that we can do even more good and change the most amount of lives possible!
During my time at Watsi, I have learned that doing good can look different for everyone. Whether it is an individual contributing a dollar amount to fund a patient, a foundation providing a grant to help support the organization, a volunteer contributing their time and efforts to achieving the organization’s mission, or a supporter spreading the word and encouraging their community to provide support in whichever way they can, all of these acts of service help make organizations like Watsi possible. They are what makes this world a better place.
The Watsi Team
Everyone deserves healthcare.