5C Experience: 5C Students Build a Health Clinic in Bolivia


Last time Lathan Liou Po’19 went to Bolivia, in January of 2018, he and other volunteers got to witness the completion of the brand-new health clinic they had spearheaded. This time, he hopes to continue to develop the new health clinic and more.

Liou is co-president of Refresh Bolivia, a group that leads service projects in La Zona Sur, Bolivia to bring accessible health care to the public. In January, a cohort of student volunteers from Scripps and the other Claremont Colleges will travel to Bolivia to design and teach educational workshops about sexual hygiene and other health-related matters.

Liou founded Refresh Bolivia at the 5Cs because he felt that global health aid was an underrepresented service area and wanted to share his passion for global health aid with the community. “I felt this need to open up public health opportunities for other students at the 5Cs to spread awareness of the right way to do global health aid,” he says.

Bolivia was an easy choice for Liou because of the numerous barriers to health care faced by residents of La Zona Sur. Many struggle to find local and affordable health care because the closest health care clinic is in the city—a journey that requires patients to leave their homes before sunrise in order to even have a chance at seeing a healthcare worker.

To mitigate this obstacle, the Refresh Bolivia team began thinking about how to erect a health clinic right in La Zona Sur. This goal became a reality after the organization received a series of highly competitive Ford Foundation grants totaling $60,000. The Ford Foundation funds college organizations that demonstrate a yearning to challenge inequality and implement change in targeted communities. The clinic was officially opened in September of 2018 and now has running water, electricity, and a variety of medical equipment. It is also staffed five days a week by a doctor and nurse who are familiar with the unique needs of the local community.

Pictured: Murals on the exterior of the Health Clinic painted by Bolivian students from local communities.

Other recent Refresh Bolivia projects include the introduction of MicroFlush ecological toilets to the area, public health education relating to sanitation practices, sexual health education, nutrition, infant care, and family planning. One particularly innovative project is the Pad Project, headed by Corrine Donnay ’20, which aims to make affordable pads for women in La Zona Sur.

This January, the student volunteers from Scripps and the other Claremont Colleges hope to host leadership development workshops for incarcerated youth as well as strengthen the health care center’s programming through more workshops. They also hope to plant a garden around the center and work with locals to grow their own produce.

At the end of each volunteer trip, Lathan Liou asks students what they took away from their experience. He recounts that many students share the similar sentiment that their experience volunteering with Refresh Bolivia proved that undergraduate students do have the abilities and resources to affect change—to change the world, one health clinic at a time.