Written by Victor M. Abraham II ’23
Journeying on the Global Health Pathway is a new series featuring stories of the Class of 2023 students enrolled in the Global Health Pathway at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. Read more posts in the series on the Global Health Diaries blog.
My name is Victor M. Abraham II. I will be heading to the Dominican Republic this summer through the Global Health Program at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. I have been interested in global health since I was very young.
My mother is an internal medicine physician who graduated from Hahnemann Medical College in 1991. Born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, she fled her home country as a child due to the authoritarian regime and sought refuge in America. Soon after her arrival, her father died in a car accident, leaving her mother a widow and the sole caregiver for her, her three brothers, and her ill mother. My mother fought through great hardship to eventually become a physician.
My father was born to a low-income family in Cuba. Neither of his parents having received an education, they worked hard to give him some semblance of a life. When the Castro regime took over, the little his family had was taken away. They managed to find refuge in Spain and eventually, in America. He began a new life as a young man in a country where he understood neither customs nor language, but was able to provide for them and prosper through his labors.
They both joined a medical missions group through their church, Iglesias Mision Cristiana, around the time I was born. Yearly, or bi-yearly, they would travel to Latin American countries to give aid. My father worked at building small houses and cultivating the land. At the same time, my mother assisted with medical procedures in clinics and treated whatever illnesses she could with the tools available to her. As their services grew, so did their support from other physicians, dentists, and organization. They also began to hold yearly programs to help local communities in their home state of New Jersey.
When I turned twelve, I joined them on their missions. I have personally been to the Dominican Republic and Argentina to give medical aid and to Nicaragua to build homes. Assisting physicians, I checked vitals, handed out medicine, collected EKGs, and performed simple physicals. With my father, we hand-built homes, gathering areas, and places of worship. We cleared farming areas and fed children. I greatly value my time abroad.
My goal with the UVM Larner College of Medicine Global Health Program is to continue their legacy. My parents have been through great hardships, but with hard work and some luck, they were able to overcome their circumstances. However, not all of us can do so. As my parents grow older, I want to take over their positions of leadership in global health and expand their work. My end goal is to create a long-lasting foundation that will honor my family and help others to give back to those that helped us.