Newly Arrived

It’s been less than 24 hours that I’ve been here, but I thought a blog about my first impressions would be useful, especially for future volunteers.

Before that though, a snippet about me. My name is Maureen Ben-Davies. I finished my pediatric residency at the University of Chicago this past July. Currently, I’m a primary care research fellow at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and pursuing my masters in public health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. I have travelled to Jamaica many times before on vacation and for my wedding, which is why I can’t believe I had the good fortune of finding an organization which would allow me to put my skills to use and “give back” to a country that I’ve loved for a long time.

I’ve never stayed a Couples resort before–or any other all-inclusive for that matter. My husband and I have prided ourselves on traveling “off the beaten path” when we venture abroad and everytime we’ve stayed here in Jamaica, we’ve chosen smaller hotels with few amenities so it’d force us to meet locals and feel like locals. That said, Couples is a really nice place. I’ll say that on our previous vacations here, we’ve found it hard to “do nothing” for more than three days, then we get bored. There is no reason for you to feel bored here. You can be as idle or as busy as you like. Today was a day off for me to get acclimated so I went on an orientation for new guests and was blown away by how many activities you could do. Call me naive, but I was like “this is why people keep coming back to all-inclusives…This is sweet.” Not as cheesy as I thought it’d be either. I’ll see if I have time/energy after volunteering to take advantage of some of the resources. The staff have been amazingly helpful, friendly and resourceful.

The bag that I picked up from reception containing my laptop and pre-paid cell phone was very handy. I wouldn’t have stressed about what kind of walk-around bag to use if I’d known this would be available. It has everything that you need to get started seeing patients: laptop, mouse, latex gloves, reflex hammer, a print out of the ISSA Trust Foundation mission orientation manual that had the contact numbers for everyone, a medication formulary print out. All I need to add is my otoscope/ophthalmoscope, stethoscope and pen and I’m good to go! Also, the villa that I’m staying at has many useful handbooks that I didn’t even think (or have room) to pack! Harriet Lane, Handbook of Medicine in Developing Countries, Atlas of Pediatrics in the Tropics, the AAP Red Book.
…Oh! No need to pack a water bottle either; the resort gives you a very durable plastic one with a clasp to hook it onto any bag you’re carrying…super handy!

Tomorrow is my first day and I’m going to Port Antonio, it’s a long ride, about 2 hours so it should be a pretty long day.

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