Haley Quesada spent 5 weeks with CFHI in the Philippines

Haley is a senior majoring in Global Health. She is interested in understanding how different ways of healing work together to provide people with health care. In her free time, she studies herbal medicine, specifically the traditional Filipino healing methods. Haley strives to find the best ways of providing universal health care, but also address how healthy living also stems from a healthy environment, which needs to be addressed structurally. This year, Haley spent 5 weeks in the Philippines with Child Family Health International (CFHI), a nonprofit, faith-based health system. 

A map of the Philippines.

Haley spent her time rotating among the public and private hospitals and clinics of the remote island, Manila. She shadowed nurses, and learned about the various triage services such as vaccinations, TB treatment, and general checkups. Haley’s opportunities for learning were not confined to only these clinical settings. She was also given the opportunity to interview traditional healers and visit various museums which provided her with a strong understanding of the local culture and how it interplays with the healthcare system of the island. Haley also attended public lectures and Zumba routine province competitions. These events helped Haley understand how it was that the health officials of the island disseminated health related information outside of clinical settings.

“I saw the different points of view of how the the healers view, trust and communicate with western medicine professionals, and vice versa”

Haley cited the language barrier as one of the largest challenges she faced during her time with CFHI. This was especially the case when Haley interviewed the traditional healers. Haley felt that she couldn’t be sure the translator whether the translator was conveying the information word for word or providing a personal interpretation of what the healer had answered. 

“This was especially a challenge, when I would see the healer didn’t fully trust the translator, because they knew they were a professional in western medicine”

Despite this obstacle, Haley found that after the first few weeks, she began to learn useful phrases and vocabulary used on the Alabat Island. Much of this learning took place while she played with local children in her free time, ultimately these children learned some English from Haley as well. Ultimately, Haley intends to return to the island once she has learned Tagalog so that she can more easily interact with the community.

Since returning, Haley spends her time working as an apprentice to those who practice herbal medicine. She pairs this with her global health studies to understand how she can contribute to the healthcare system. Haley is particularly interested in understanding how it is that mental health is approached by western medicine and strives to address mental health in a more holistic approach.


CFHI’s 40+ programs in 11 countries connect students with local health professionals and community leaders transforming perspectives about self, global health, and healing. Learn more about how you can become involved with CFHI.

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