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Child Family Health International


Child Family Health International (CFHI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that conducts socially responsible global health service-learning programs for medical, pre-medical, nursing, PA, MPH, and other health science students. CFHI's 35+ programs in 10 countries connect students with local health professionals -transforming perspectives about self, global health and healing. CFHI supports local communities worldwide through these global health education programs and community health initiatives. CFHI is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations.


2369 Ocean Ave, #200
San Francisco, CA 94127
United States


Yes, I recommend this program

I completed a global health practicum in La Paz, Bolivia in March 2018. Rather than working in a clinical setting, I worked with an NGO that had developed a micro health insurance (MHI) product for very low income persons living in La Paz. The NGO was experiencing challenges in meeting their sales goals, and the focus of my practicum was identifying barriers in selling/purchasing MHI and providing recommendations to overcome these barriers.

This practicum was a particularly important experience for me because I did not have any previous experience in public health. In addition to learning about what it is like to work in the field, I also learned several invaluable lessons about developing, implementing, and promoting public health programs.

I found both the NGO and CFHI staff friendly, supportive, willing to teach me, and willing to learn from me. The local CFHI staff was particularly helpful - they were always available to answer questions or help resolve any issues. My homestay accommodations were very high quality, and in a location convenient to the office.

The also program offered flexibility to travel on weekends, so that you can explore and learn more about Bolivian culture.

All in all, this was a wonderful experience and I am glad I participated in the program!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The Uyuni Salt Flats - you would not think that a salt flat would be interesting or fun, but it's a really beautiful location with a very interesting history.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The Healthcare Challenges program in Cape Town and HIV/AIDS & Healthcare Challenges program in Durban were amazing experiences that taught me much about the field of medicine. We were able to shadow in a variety of healthcare settings, including large hospitals, small community clinics, and hospices, and in many different medical specialties, including general surgery, pediatrics, primary care, and obstetrics. We had fantastic support in South Africa and were given the opportunity to travel throughout the country, from the Garden Route of the Western Cape, to safaris of KwaZulu-Natal, and the mountains of Lesotho. South Africa is a beautiful country with a vibrant culture and rich history. I cannot wait until I get a chance to visit South Africa again!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of the opportunity to live with a host family. It is an excellent way to become immersed in a culture and hear a local's perspective.
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Yes, I recommend this program

This was a great program. Everything was very organized and structured so that I didn't have to worry about not knowing where I was supposed to be at any given moment. There were many points of contact throughout the whole process. From being picked up at the airport, adequate knowledge about the program from the host family, tour of the city and public transportation on the first day, coordination of hospital sites and physicians, the whole process was very seamless. Quito is a very easy city to navigate with great and cheap public transportation. Uber is also very cheap there. There are also lots of weekend trips that can be done to explore more of Ecuador. The rotations were all interesting and educational, with physicians teaching in between seeing patients. You get to work in a maternity hospital ER, adolescent pregnancy clinic, postpartum floor, outpatient clinics, and labor and delivery. I felt that the spanish classes were excellent especially since there were only 4 students or so in each class. Would definitely recommend this program!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
A guinea pig ritual in an indigenous medicine clinic.
Yes, I recommend this program

My participation in a Solomon Islands Community Environmental Health program in 2017 left me with a growing desire to explore the world once more through my education. I felt an urgency and natural obligation to have a similar experience of volunteer work and service in my motherland. I found CFHI's program through their partnership with the University of California. The idea of getting paired with a Oaxacan NGO for a practicum experience was something I naturally yearned for and had seemingly manifested for myself. I needed Oaxaca's people, colors, food, artesanías, landscapes and one of a kind streets full of culture.
Back in April when the program was starting in Mexico City I was put in contact with the Assistant Director of CFHI Latin America to talk about the goals and interests I had in mind for the Community Health Practicum, a month-long project I was to complete in Oaxaca City while completing volunteer work. I was placed to work with El Instituto de la Naturaleza y Sociedad de Oaxaca (INSO) after sharing with her my background in environmental science. I felt an immediate connection to INSO’s work due to their ability of recognizing the importance of a holistic approach to ecology and community health. I also visited Centro de Apoyo para el Niño de la Calle (CANICA) and although it was not an NGO I was originally assigned to, I asked to volunteer there as well. From Tuesday through Thursdays I worked with the incredible educators, staff, and students of CANICA. My role at CANICA was to be a teaching assistant for an educator of a combined class of first through fourth grade students. I helped teach weekly environmental health and earth science topics such as flooding, wildfires, and earthquakes. I learned how to complete lesson plans, how to get comfortable teaching a classroom in my native language, and how to inspire young ones on topics I am passionate about. I appreciated all the different tasks I had at CANICA; even the simple everyday activities of math tutoring and pickup soccer that allowed me bond more with these wonderful kids. The highlight of my volunteer experience was being granted the freedom and responsibility by CFHI to complete a Community Health Practicum project that represented my diverse list of passions. I am grateful that this experience gave me the opportunity to formulate a project under the weekly mentorship and wisdom of highly influential people. I gained valuable insight on how to think critically about development work. Particularly distinguishing gaps to become a useful bridge between an NGO and communities that are typically targeted for health, educational, and other development projects. Completing an internship abroad with CFHI has offered me a portal to connect with people and places from different parts of the world, an opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills and has opened new doors in my mind about my identity.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I chose this program in India and participated for 4 weeks during my summer semester of college in 2016 because I am interested in obstetrics and gynecology as well as, the challenges expecting mothers face in the developing world. Apart from that, I also love the vibrant and colorful culture of India. This program was worth the time and money because I got to shadow and interact with physicians from both departments of pediatrics and obstetrics/ gynecology as well as, primary care physicians from rural villages. This experience allows me to have a better idea of what I want to pursue and how I want to contribute to women healthcare. I highly recommend to anyone who's interested in working in the healthcare sector. Also, I would totally encourage others to go because it’s not only an opportunity to learn more about global health but also, to learn more about different cultures and forge everlasting friendships.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the experience whole heartedly (:


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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Sharon Goh

Sharon is an aspiring obstetrician/gynecologist who is passionate about maternal and child health. She graduated college with a degree in Biology and is currently working in the research sector in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sharon Goh

Why did you choose this program?

I chose participate in CFHI’s Maternal and Child Health Program in India because it allows me to experience the challenges expecting mothers face in the developing world. On top of that, I have always been fascinated by the vibrant and colorful culture of India. Hence, this program is the perfect fit for me!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The website of Child Family Health International (CFHI) has very clear instructions on the entire application process and how to proceed after being accepted into the program. The staff at CFHI were very helpful and knowledgeable. They provided me with all the information needed (contacts both locally and abroad, reading material on the traditions and culture of India, as well as the healthcare system, options for travel insurance and the outline of the program and accommodation details). I only had to search and purchase my flight ticket, apply for my traveling visa and get necessary vaccinations.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

There is free time during the weekends, so it would be great to research on the places/ attractions that you would like to visit beforehand so you are able to make full use of your time in India. Most importantly, go and experience with an open mindset! You are abroad with two identities - a tourist and a student.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

We would start our day with breakfast (traditional Indian food) at the medical director's house and move on with shadowing rotations at different pediatric and obstetric hospitals and small rural clinics in and around Pune, under the supervision of local preceptors. We attended optional yoga classes once every week before breakfast. During the weekends, we would explore around the nearby cities in Maharashtra State to learn more about the history and culture of India. Also, jamming to Bollywood music is part of our daily routine when we were on the road.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was a little worried about not being able to adapt the living conditions and the issue of obtaining clean drinking water. However, the accommodation was fine and we have easy access to clean drinking water. I realized that sometimes worrying does not help to solve the problem. The best thing that you can do is to stay positive, accept whatever comes your way and you will be surprised that you can adapt and be just as fine! Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is the way to allow yourself to grow and learn from others!

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Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Nick Penco

Job Title
Associate Director for Latin America and New Partnerships
Nick Penco, a native of Argentina, joined Child Family Health International in 2005. His natural ability to communicate across cultures and his ability to fluently speak Spanish and French are an asset in working with CFHI partners from Africa, India, Latin American and Asia. His passion for international education and travel were sparked by a year spent in Germany as a foreign exchange student during his teenage years.

What is your favorite travel memory?

working with Child Family Health International

The first time I traveled to the Philippines. It was a country I knew little about prior to arriving. I was taken aback by the hospitality and friendliness of its people and awestruck by the majestic beauty of its landscape, the intricate flavors of its cuisine, and mesmerized by a culture that encapsulate the best qualities of East and West, Spanish, Asian, and American.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

My role has allowed me to travel to locations and meet people that you normally would not see on a top 10 travel destinations vide on the Travel Channel.

This has allowed me to grow as a person on so many levels, increasing my cultural competency and making me a more humble and patient person, I have also met and worked with people who devote their entire lives to the service of others, this has made me more self-reflective as to how I live my daily life.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

That is a very difficult questions to answer! I would pick all of course if I could! I would say "Remote Island Medicine in the Philippines" - the country has so much to offer and I feel I barely scratched the surface with my time there. The program offers a perfect balance between public health activities, academic rigor and fun in the sun.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I believe that the people that make up the organization, our partners abroad as well as our staff in San Francisco, our passion and commitment to providing quality programs. There are plenty of organizations that offers health related programs, but what we offer is a boutique experience - with a group of individuals that we call the CFHI Family.

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