Seven years ago, Burbank resident Shannon Fernando traveled to the Philippines, working in a slum for six weeks with women trafficked as sex slaves.
It wasn't the first international foray for the then-UCLA biology undergraduate. The child of a United Nations official, Fernando was born in Sri Lanka and spent the first 10 years of her life in far-flung regions of the world, including the Cook Islands, before settling in Burbank.
But that visit to the Philippines was one that really stuck, inspiring her to take additional service trips to places like Nairobi, Kenya in 2007 and rural Haiti in 2011. It also planted a dream in Fernando to fuse her skills as a healthcare professional — she is now a registered nurse with Kaiser Permanente — and her desire to serve the marginalized by establishing an international mobile health clinic.
“For seven years, I had this in the back of my mind, and I continued to hold it close to my heart, and I was waiting for the green light, for everything to fall into place for me to be able to launch it,” said Fernando, who graduated from Burbank High School in 2002.