With less than 2 months to go before our trip to Ecuador, this whole experience still seems surreal. From the overwhelming support of our friends, family, classmates and faculty, to our first Skype with Timmy, to planning the details of our trip, every minute of this experience has been humbling.

I remember vividly the day Farah first brought up the idea of entering the Med Plus Advantage Global Health Challenge.   Despite our best efforts to be organized, we were frantically searching for a team name minutes before the essay submission deadline when we finally landed on one that fit us – “MedMujeres,” or “Medical Women.”   This name helped shape our video and root us in what we believed to be the best solution to improving community health from the ground up – educating and empowering women to take control of their well-being.

The day winners were announced, we all gathered in one of the familiar study rooms we meet in weekly to hear the news.  We vacillated between excitement, doubt and frustration at the slowly moving clock.  After we heard the good news, other students on the floor thought something terrible had happened because of the screams coming from the room. Since that day, we haven’t stopped learning about Timmy, exploring past winners’ experiences, or planning how we might spend our time in Ecuador.

Over the summer, Sara and I had the opportunity to visit Timmy’s headquarters in Indianapolis. I didn’t think anything could ramp up our excitement any more, but this trip certainly did. The thing I remember most about the Timmy Headquarters is how it is simultaneously both larger and smaller than I expected.  There are only 14 full time staff members organizing over 34 trips that serve almost 15,000 patients every year. Although we only met a handful of those 14, it was easy to see how so much work gets done.

On the other hand, the size of the headquarters itself is deceivingly large.  The modest first floor is decorated with over-sized photos of their many volunteers, partner organizations, and patients.  However, what really impressed us was the huge donation center lying underneath the building with medications, surgical tools, and an array of other health care necessities that supply the bulk of Timmy’s work.  My favorite part of the visit was exploring their Electronic Medical Record, TimmyCare.  This EMR is incredible, user-friendly and so important for continuity of care for the patients they serve.

Although we don’t know exactly what to expect when we arrive in Ecuador, we are confident in the foundation Timmy has laid for us.  We are excited to meet their community partners, get to know the people of both Quito and Tena, and get to practice some of the clinical skills we’ve spent 2 years honing.  We’re eager to meet the rest of the team from Ball State and witness the “bread and butter” of Timmy’s organization: the clinic days in which we’ll get to connect with patients, learning more about the needs of the community and starting to plan what we can do to make a difference.