Carmel Valley resident to participate in medical mission trip to Armenia, will hold fundraiser July 18


Carmel Valley’s Allie Calderon will be traveling on a medical mission trip to Armenia with International Medical Relief (IMR) July 30 through Aug. 9.

A 2011 graduate of Canyon Crest Academy, Calderon recently graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. While at Davis, she also received her Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification and she plans to apply to nursing school in the fall.

“Originally, I wanted to be a veterinarian and I worked in the vet hospital at Davis for three years. But I just realized it was not for me,” said Calderon, 21. “Being a nurse, being a patient advocate and being on the front lines of patient care was what I really wanted to do with my life.”

The director of her EMT program at Davis was the one who introduced her to International Medical Relief, a non-profit that serves underserved patients through medical mission trips all over the world.

This is the first time IMR is sending a medical mission to Armenia. Past missions have gone to Haiti, Central and South America, Africa, Russia and southeast Asia. Armenia piqued Calderon’s interest as she has many Armenian friends and she is interested in learning about their heritage and history, as well as giving back.

As Calderon noted, not many people know about the Armenian genocide, which just marked its 100-year anniversary in April. During and after World War I an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottomans. Many countries, including the United States, do not recognize what happened as a genocide and instead refer to the events as a tragic massacre; however, the legislatures of 43 individual states have passed resolutions recognizing the genocide.

“A lot of villages are still trying to recover from the decimation they experienced,” Calderon said, noting many remote mountainous villages lack access to regular healthcare. “They need help, especially medical care and for things here that we take for granted…It’s difficult for them to get something as simple as Tylenol.”

On the mission, Calderon will join a team of 14 people, which includes doctors, nurses, a dentist, medical students and non-medical volunteers — she will be the only EMT. They will stay in Yerevan, the largest city in Armenia, and will take daily bus trips out to villages that lack medical infrastructure and set up patient clinics.

“Usually the teams do more acute care but for the first time we will be doing chronic medical management for things like diabetes and hypertension,” Calderon said.

Calderon will focus on doing general exams, wound care and patient education.

“I feel prepared,” Calderon said. “In EMT training, you learn how to talk to people and what questions to ask to narrow the problem down so the doctor knows what they’re looking at.”

As International Medical Relief is wholly funded by donations, each volunteer is responsible for a portion of fundraising. To help raise money, Calderon is holding a garage sale on Saturday, July 18, beginning at 8 a.m. at 12680 Aida Street in Carmel Valley (92130). Calderon is also accepting donations for her trip. Needed items include medical supplies and toiletries, such as toothbrushes and travel size shampoo, hand-sanitizer and soap. To contact Calderon, email