Looking Ahead to Grow 2018
GROW (Grassroots Onsite Work) Director Jonathan Castaneda offers insight with regards to what drew him to lead GROW, how he has prepared for the trip, and what he is looking forward to for the team.
By: Andrew Thornton
Jonathan Castaneda, a Junior GlobeMed member from Eagle Lake, TX, will be leading the GROW (Grassroots Onsite Work) team this summer at Wuqu’ Kawoq in Guatemala. He has been serving as GROW Director throughout the year, and in anticipation of their trip, he offered some insight with regards to what drew him to lead GROW, how he has prepared for the trip, and what he is looking forward to.
What made you want to serve as GROW Coordinator?
Serving as GROW Coordinator gave me the ability to help our chapter expand its relationship with our partner along with giving me a chance to give back in an immense way to an org that has given so much to me these past 3 years.
What did you take away from the GROW Institute conference in Chicago this spring?
GROW institute reignited the passion and hope that I could make a change, a sustainable change as a college student.
What are you looking forward to this summer?
This summer I am most looking forward to meeting the staff at Wuqu that I have been talking to for months and hearing stories about for years. I also am excited to immerse myself in the culture.
What do you want to gain?
In this position I want to gain a sense of confidence in my leadership skills.
What do you think you are able bring?
I am able to bring my personality, someone who is personable, caring, organized, and passionate.
What are you looking to take away from it?
I’m looking to take away a once in a lifetime experience where I learn how NGOs run, an understanding of a culture, and hope that quality healthcare is a possibility for every individual no matter their geographic location, language, or economic status.
What’s a challenge that you’re preparing to face this summer? What is one outside of the language barrier?
A challenge I am preparing to face this summer is uncertainty. The uncertainty that comes from traveling to a location for the first time and realizing that I can’t prepare for every situation but knowing that we as a team have the ability to handle every situation. So I guess I’m just preparing to be comfortable with the unexpected.
You just got named co-president for the 2018-2019. Congratulations! What can you tell us about how your experience this summer will help you lead the following year?
Thank you! My time this summer will help me lead the following year by being able to take my first-hand experiences to ignite my passion to assist in the growth of the chapter and help foster a relationship between the chapter and Wuqu Kawoq.
globemed Leadership Institute (LI) 2017 Reflections
August 10-12, our co-president Corina Arroyo and co-ghU coordinator Alexandra Rivera attended a three day immersive conference of intensive training and leadership development.
By: Corina Arroyo & Alexandra Rivera
"Unfortunately, prior to my LI adventures I didn’t really see the importance in networking with other chapters. I thought each chapter did their own thing just as we do ours. I am happy to report that my opinion has done a 180 degree flip. Being able to network with the other 59 chapters of this great organization brought me back to the roots of why we are here and what the mission is for us as members of GlobeMed. I feel like as we go deeper into the year our view begins to narrow and we have our eyes on the prize of meeting our goals. I personally think that I lose sight of our purpose beyond our monetary goals. Of course our fundraising is not insignificant, but the education we aspire to give each other and the advocacy that we are attempting to spread is what sets us apart. LI gave me many ideas and suggestions on widening our view to the bigger picture of what we do and I look forward to sharing these ideas with our members. This is what is going to change the world, our ability to stand up for what we believe in.
Being able to collaborate with us chapters opened my eyes to realize that we all experience the same struggles and hardships no matter the location or size of our campus or partners. Overall I learned that our passion for what we do is what draws members in and what keeps us going. Our shared interests and differing opinions keeps us from getting bored. Our chapter may be on the smaller side right now but I think it works for us. We have a great family feel. Of course I would love to share what we do with more people, but I have faith that our little GM family is going to do great things."
"Before LI, I had never attended a nationwide GlobeMed event. I had never met anyone outside of UT who was a member of GlobeMed, so I hadn’t realized how much we’d have in common despite the many states that separated us in distance. Being able to sit down with members of other chapters and share stories made me feel as if we were not only connected by name, but by our journey towards our common goal, as well as our common struggles to keep our chapter the best it can be. Learning from other chapter leaders helped me see the changes we could make to become better advocates for social justice and health equity along with meeting our monetary goal at the end of the year. Also, getting to meet the directors at GlobeMed Headquarters was really cool and now I am able to recognize their names when we receive updates from them throughout the year. Overall, going to LI just made me more excited to attend another nationwide event to reconnect with the people I met and meet even more GlobeMedders!
Posted on October 29, 2017 by Jessica Wu
GlobeMed New CO-Presidents for 2017-2018 Academic Year
In March, GlobeMed had selected their newest co-presidents and here are their reflections:
From Member to Co-Pres
By: Corina Arroyo & Caroline Kelly
"When I began my GlobeMed journey this organization wasn't even on my radar. A friend told me about someone she had met that day from GlobeMed and asked me if I would go with her to the info session. The room was packed with all these wonderful and intelligent people. A little intimidating at first, but the weekly meetings soon created a welcoming atmosphere that I longed for.
After being a part of a couple of organizations where I felt like I wasn't seeing the impact or see a change in the environment, GlobeMed gave me the tasks that allowed me see the impact I was making. Everyone is so dedicated to the cause. It is wonderful to think that we could all find time to come together ad make a change. That us, as college students, are able to raise so much money is such a short time span.
Having a partner gives us that close relationship with the people we are helping. By committing to help this community sustain themselves, we commit to knowing this community on a person level, which is part of what draws me to GlobeMed. It is one thing to provide the means, but it is another to work with them so that they continue to progress.
GlobeMed has kept me up to date on what is going on in the world. This organization has held me accountable for standing up for what I think it right. As I transition into the co-president position, I hope to push myself to help this organization continue to grow. This position has only increased my knowledge of all that the beautiful people in the organization do to help keep us running like a well-oiled machine. I can only hope that Caroline and I will do half as well as our predecessors."
"I can remember finishing GlobeMed “school” as a freshman and looking at the current presidents and thinking, ‘man it would be so great to be able to be where those young ladies are standing in two or three years’…not knowing if I would be able to get there amongst all of the other incredible, passionate, and equally capable people in the room with me. Now here we are three years later, and it is a bit surreal to be transitioning into the role of Co-President. The process is unique as I am doing so from almost 5,000 miles away. Through three different seasons of time changes, we are video calling, texting, and emailing constantly to ensure a smooth transfer of knowledge and a good foundation of planning in preparation for next year.
Even though I have been on the executive board for the past two years, and worked closely with the current and past leaders of our organization, I still wonder how I will be able to catch all of the tiny details and help lead us through a successful year. But then I remember, when I joined e-board for the first time, I saw that behind the curtains no one ever has it all together. And I get a text or an email from Corina, my co-president that brings up something I haven’t thought of and I think, ‘we can do this, we are going to make such a great team.’
Joining GlobeMed has been one of the best decisions of my college career. Between the ghU’s, different backgrounds of people I have had the pleasure of getting to know, times of reflection, and trips to El Salvador and Chicago, I have truly changed as a person. Prior to arriving at UT and becoming a part of this organization, I had not even realized that health care is a privilege for most, and not a right. This is something I hope my great grandchildren will be shocked to hear. In order to get to that point, organizations like GlobeMed, work tirelessly to implement real and visible change: change that occurs through partnerships, in a sustainable way. This is something I can stand behind. That is what first brought me to GlobeMed, and now I can only say that I am more than humbled to help lead one chapter of it.
I cannot wait to kick off our eighth year, and I hope through my role of managing the logistics and organization of our goals, the passion our current and members-to-be will bring will carry us through our best year yet. GM love everyone!"
GlobeMed Summit Reflection 2017
March 30-April 1st, one of our members Jessica Wu went to Chicago for GlobeMed Summit. Here are her reflections of the weekend:
GlobeMed Summit 2017
By: Jessica Wu
Nearly 200 students from 58 chapters came together for GlobeMed’s 11th Annual Summit, Leading Bravely: Finding Strength in Diversity this past weekend. It was amazing to be surrounded by students and alumna who passionately supported the fight towards health equity. Students from varying backgrounds and experiences came together to exemplify this year’s theme of leading bravely. Many amazing keynote speakers showcased their bravery this past weekend. From Jane Ekayu, the founder and director of Children of Peace Uganda, who overcame the atrocities of war in order to aid children soldiers and to uplift Ugandanese women. To Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who continuously and tirelessly advocates for quality healthcare for nearly the past two decades.
One keynote speaker that stood out to me was Dr. Melissa Gilliam, the founder of Ci3 at the University of Chicago. This research center is composed of three labs - Game Change Lab, Design Thinking Lab and the Transmedia Storytelling Lab. These labs engage the youth of southside of Chicago to the youth in Uttar Pradesh. Through the development of skills such as game or app creation, these youth were not only educating themselves but other youth about sexual and reproductive health. These labs created a space for students that welcomed failure and created a sense of agency for those that were systematically oppressed. Dr. Gilliam’s work showed me that by utilizing technology, we can innovatively address the systemic barriers that lead to disparities in sexual and reproductive health. We can give the youth a voice to not only expand the current narrative but to empower them as well.
One of the many workshops that I attended was “Storytelling for Change” led by Loyce Pace, the President and Executive Director of the Global Health Council. We discussed past media campaigns in order to understand the various factors that influence the viewer and compared the different styles utilized for their respective messages. We were also tasked with designing our own media campaign depending on the recipient - a politician, a donor or the public. I was amazed to hear the various campaigns that the other students developed within a short amount of time. Again I was reminded by how passionate everyone is and how our diversity can lead to astounding ideas.
This past weekend was an amazing learning experience and quite eye opening. From sharing and hearing countless of stories and experiences, I know that we all learned a lot from each other and found bravery within ourselves multiple times throughout this summit.
10 Things We Know to be TRUE
In a recent GHU exploring the methodology of positive discussions of social justice, Globemed members pondered ways to reconcile differences in viewpoints and opinions. In a TED Talk titled, "If I Should Have a Daughter," Sarah Kay presents a brief list of things she knows to be true and asks the audience to do the same. After conducting a similar exercise within our group, we came to find that within everyone's lists, many members found at least a few affirmations from our individual truths agreeable. Here are 10 such statements that our Globemed Members know to be true:
- "People from all backgrounds and viewpoints can get along perfectly so long as both parties are willing." -Kelsey Moreland
- "Health is a universal right, regardless of economic, social, religious, political, and sexual points of view." - Jimena Gamboa
- "Knowledge is the most valuable and powerful thing you can acquire throughout life. We will never stop learning from the womb to the tomb." -Kimi Perez
- "Every human life has value, which should have the opportunity to be fully realized... also, every dog." -Kristen Henke
- "Flowers are blooming, even when you fail to see them." -Valeria Martinez
- "I have privilege that can be utilized for the greater good of society." -Pooja Tanna
- "The standard of living among various countries is not defined by a set national average." -Insightful, anonymous member
- "You can learn more if you listen. Question yourself; try to put yourself in someone else's shoes." - Caroline Kelly
- "You can choose your second, third, fourth... families." -Yasmin Melody
- "People are complicated... People are allowed to be complicated." -Celia Valles
What's the significance of the consistency and agreeability between so many wonderful personal testaments? There's so much beauty in the uniqueness and individual nature of all our contributions and ideas, but its also important to step back and realize how groups like ours can be and are united through common views and values. In recognizing and appreciating these simple ways that even large groups of people can come together to find common ground-- to agree on universal facts we know to be true-- we can better appreciate the perspectives and bonds we share.
So, what comes next? With a better ability to spot underlying parallels in the things we know to be true, we can use these connections to encourage the open-minded and inclusive mindset necessary to discuss social justice, as well as to inspire forward thinking and growth in the people around us.
Join GROW Team members Jimena, Valeria, Michelle, and Sri during their visit to our new partner, Wuqu' Kawoq, in Guatemala.
We are here!
"Founded in 2010, GlobeMed at the University of Texas at Austin is one of 50 chapters that comprise the GlobeMed network. We previously were partnered with Clinica Ana Manganaro in El Salvador for 6 years. As of this year, our new partner organization is Wuqu' Kawoq, a non-governmental organization in Guatemala that shares our vision of health as a human right. Our chapter is made up of 50 active undergraduate students working in solidarity with Wuqu' Kawoq to implement long-term initiatives to better the health and quality of life for Mayan communities in Guatemala. We are a diverse group of students, studying everything from business to engineering to public health, but we are united in our vision that health is a human right, regardless of where you live or your socioeconomic status.
This July, four of our members (that’s us!) traveled to meet and work with our partner in Tecpan, Guatemala. Leading the team is Jimena Gamboa, the GROW Coordinator and our momma for the month. She is currently a rising junior studying supply chain management. Joining her are Valeria, Michelle, and Sri. Valeria Mejia is a rising junior studying Public Health on a pre-med track. Michelle Zhang is a rising senior Neuroscience major who also aspires to become a physician. Sri is a rising senior with an interest in Health and Society. Though we arrived in Tecpan merely four days ago, we have already been touched many times by the warmth of the people we’ve met here and the richness of all we’ve seen and experienced.
This year, our incredible and multi-talented GlobeMed staff members in Austin worked hard to fundraise $5,000, all of which will be allocated to Wuqu’ Kawoq’s Unlocking H2O project. Its goal is to provide access to clean water to communities Central Guatemala, as a solution for chronic malnutrition in the area. Our GlobeMed chapter’s specific project with Wuqu’ Kawoq aims to provide 44 new filters – 1 per household – to the Chiaj community, providing them with 1,800 liters of clean drinking water every day. As we have learned from Wuqu’ Kawoq’s early childhood nutrition outreach program, Salvando Cerebros, it is crucial to target malnutrition between ages 0 and 2 years old--that way, children’s brains are able to develop healthily, allowing them to reach their full potential in the future. Without clean water, nutrition programs cannot be entirely successful or sustainable, and our GlobeMed team hopes to fill this gap in the Chiaj community.
We believe in empowering communities and learning from them, and the work that Wuqu’ Kawoq does truly aligns with this idea. Since this is our GlobeMed chapter’s first year with Wuqu’, our goals are to strengthen our new partnership and become acquainted with the communities of Guatemala and their needs. We are eager to gain a deeper understanding of Wuqu’ Kawoq’s model and how we fit into the picture, and even more eager to work with the talented and passionate individuals here. Meeting them and seeing firsthand the work they do in the field closes the distance of hundreds of miles between our team back home and the beautiful people of Guatemala. Every time we break bread together, sing together, and walk through the community together, our partnership is strengthened. Be sure to follow Wuqu’ on social media to get a glimpse of these moments!"
2015 Spring Break Reflection
By: Yasmin Boloori
March 25th, 2016
"Although spring weather began early for us in Texas, I feel the recent change of season throughout the campus. Students are hammering through this last month and a half of the semester. Music festivals are starting back up. Zilker Park is jam packed with people and their adorable dogs.
Spring is a symbol for new beginnings and a fresh start. It is a time of hope and growth. Yet, in only two days we are hit with the news of another terror attack in Brussels. This comes not long after the recent Paris attacks. Unfortunately, the hatred is not just international. Every day it seems that there is another shooting somewhere in the states. So many, in fact, that I have almost become unfazed by the horrific news. What is even less commonly know is that many countries around the world face this same reality every day. But there is little to no media coverage. For example, on March 13th there were two bombings in Ankara, Turkey. Why was there not the same global solidarity for them? Who is at fault for that? What about the 86 people burned in Nigeria? Are we to blame for the lack of knowledge? Is the media? Is the government? The harsh truth is that we are all at fault. It is our responsibility as global citizens to spread the word. We have such a strong voice thanks to social media. We have the power to inform the world. We have the power to stop the hatred. We can demand change.
So what’s stopping us?"
2015 GROW Reflections
Alexis Martinez, Caroline Kelly, and Kristen Henke reflect on their memories from the GROW trip.
Alexis Martinez- "Going to El Salvador and meeting with our partner, Clinica Ana Manganaro, was an experience of a lifetime. Within the first week of being there, I was given the opportunity to travel with Carol, the Health Educator to a neighboring small town near Guarjila called San Jose Las Flores to help set up a presentation for the children about Dengue and Chikungunya. Dengue and Chikungunya are diseases carried by mosquitos that are extremely prevalent in El Salvador. As we got to the clinic, there was already a crowd of children lined up and eager for the presentation. This, at first glanced seemed unusual to me because I would assume these kids would much rather spend their afternoon playing with their friends instead of participating in a presentation over diseases. But as we approached the crowd of children, they all went straight to Carol asking why she was late and how she was and how her family was. Carol and I then started setting up stations with community Health Promoters and Nurses on each station covering various topics like, the life cycle of a mosquito, how to properly wash a “pila”, Dengue and Chikungunya symptoms, and where to clean up to prevent mosquito infestation. Each group of children that passed by the stations were so eager with ears and eyes open, excited to learn. I found this so beautiful because these kids were so enthusiastic to learn from community leaders that they knew well. With such high prevalence of cases of infection in communities, prevention is a huge deal. Carol would always tell me how stressful it is for people, especially in rural areas, to get educated to prevent it from spreading. The children were also advised to teach their parents and classmates what they learned so that there will be less people getting sick.
Carol, CAM's Health Educator, gives the community a presentation about the prevention of Dengue and Chikungunya, two serious viruses spread by mosquitos.
After the presentation ended, Carol and Raul, the Health Promoter, took me to the main plaza area in San Jose Las Flores. As we walked, they pointed out the statues and murals left in remembrance of the civil war. In the 80s, El Salvador suffered a civil war that ripped through its country. They directed me to an area in the plaza where empty artillery tanks were strategically placed. “They threw these down on us from planes up above”, Raul told me. They also showed me a statue of a dove and a book with names etched into it in front of the church in the plaza. Raul and Carol explained to me that those names imprinted were the names of the children from the community that disappeared during the civil war. Next to the church was a wall with a beautifully painted mural. It lay the map of El Salvador divided into its municipals but also depicted the major massacres that occurred in each region. “There was a big massacre that occurred in the Rio Sumpul not too far from here, several families, women and children were trying to run away and cross the river and they shot them down, and soon the water turned red”, Carol said. “It is important to not forget what happened”. Although many communities in the region suffered a crippling war, they unified together and slowly rebuilt what they lost and continued to grow. Just like community leaders strived to unify communities in order to fight for liberty in the civil war, there are leaders like Carol and Raul who are fighting to end this awful disease that is hurting their people."
Kristen Henke- "After dinner one night at Francisca's grandmother's home, we were all sitting and talking, and Francisca asked what we were scared of. We all went around and shared out fears (one of the benefits of us all being so close was that we were able to have meaningful conversations like this). I told them I was scared of the dark. The dark terrifies me; I even have to sleep with a light on at night. I will never, ever forget Francisca's response. She said not to be afraid of the dark; the dark is beautiful. Some background is necessary to put this into context: Francisca lost her sight in an accident. One could say she lives in darkness, but I don't think that's the case at all. She is full of light. I immediately started crying; I couldn't help it. These women are so incredibly inspirational and beautiful. They are fearless and take life as it comes and live with such boldness and bravery and selflessness... I could go on and on. Francisca has taken her situation and not only accepted it, but learned from it. She obviously hasn't let it negatively affect her, but the polar opposite. My example (I'm sure just one of many) is a perfect testimony to her ability to use her experiences to enrich the world, and the people around her. She's one of the most positive people I've ever met in my life. Experiences like these make me so grateful to be on this trip."
Winter Break Reflections
At our first meeting back of the Spring Semester, we asked our members to each write a short reflection about their breaks, their PNC (Personal Network Campaign) fundraising, or anything else GlobeMed or social justice related on their minds. These are their words.
"My break, overall, was a well-deserved time of relaxation. I didn't do many "productive" things, per say, but I was able to enjoy many different things. I watched a lot of movies (old and new), got into photography, saw a musical, and did PNC fundraising. Fundraising was intimidating at first, but I was surprised at how willing people were to donate (I ended up getting 3 $20 donations)! I think it shows that there are plenty of people out there willing to give a helping hand." -GlobeMed Member, class of 2018
"Over the break, I read How to Win Friends and Influence People. The qualities of a leader exemplified in this book include being genuinely interested in people, considering other peoples' interests before your own, and listening to whatever people have to say. The executive board does this incredibly well in GlobeMed. I hope to eventually put the skills I've learned to use in the future to help benefit and coordinate GlobeMed." -Benito Buksh, GlobeMed Member
"This break, although I was horrified by the events at Kerbey Lane when two women were verbally assaulted because of their perceived religious beliefs, I was comforted by the huge outpouring of support for the women targeted. I hope that this can convince those who needed proof that change must take place to make our campus a safe and inclusive place for all." -Ciara Redmond, GlobeMed Co-President
"It's amazing to see just how quickly babies develop. In just over a month of being at home, my little brother went from crawling to standing to assisted walking. As well as this, he began to gain control over his words/sounds; began to at least attempt at communication. It makes me sad to not be at home as much as I'd like to be. It's tiring, but so rewarding watching over him. And I know my mother would gladly take whatever help she could get especially as a single mother." -GlobeMed Member
"My break was great but Disney and Universal were so packed! Something I learned is that PNC is much harder when you're traveling. I had an easy time convincing family about the importance of PNC. Over the break I had the time to look at Donald Trump's campaign. I will not be voting for him." -GlobeMed Member, 4th Year
"Over the break I joined Austin's Black Lives Matter organization and started to educate myself on the history and untold narrative of the Black community. Although I've only attended a few meetings, the message and spirit of the group shares many views and opinions about injustice that is commonly discussed during our GlobeMed meetings." Senior GlobeMed Member
"This break was rejuvenating tie very well spent with family. Additionally, I was able to do something extra special, shadow an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer. In order to prepare for this time I read Atul Gawande's book, Being Moral. The conversations we had about healthcare, end of life, and politics in medicine, really made me think critically about how I will one day face these issues when confronted with them as a physician and even as a daughter. I look forward to more thought provoking conversations in GlobeMed and brainstorming and acting to make healthcare more attainable globally." -Caroline Kelly, Co-Campaigns Coordinator
"I studied for the MCAT during my break, but apparently I wasn't scheduled for it... Oops. From PNC I learned that people are really excited about social justice." -Junior GlobeMed Member
"This winter break was fun. I got to go to Disney World, A.K.A the Happiest Place on Earth, with my friends on our first ever trip without my parents or any parental supervision at all. I got accepted into a college so I am no longer undeclared but am now... DECLARED! Whoop Whoop! Which means I probably should start deciding what job I want to have when I graduate... All in all, it was a great break. For PNC, I donated the money I had worked for rather than asking for money. For one, I'm not good at asking for money and two, it was nice to work towards something that wasn't for my own personal, material wants. Maybe next year I'll try asking around. I mean who wouldn't want to help a good cause, right?" -GlobeMed Member
"This winter break (2015), I did a lot of self reflection in terms of how my future goals aligned with my personal passions. I think, being a young woman with access to education, I have a duty to use those resources to improve the lives of others. Being in the business school does open a lot of doors for personal growth, but (at times) it takes an extra effort to use the knowledge and leadership learned to plan for a way to give back to communities that lack resources. This led me to realize that I need to focus not only on my growth, but the growth of others." -Jimena Gamboa, GROW Coordinator
"Lately I've been thinking a lot about how I got here. Studying for my MCAT, trying to visualize my future, spurred me to think about my past- mostly, the people I owe along the way. While I could write endless volumes about my parents, I instead want to focus on my teachers. They instilled in me a spark, a love of learning and brazen curiosity that remains a lot today. I lived in a poor, lower class neighborhood at the time, but my teachers sheltered us from the difficult, unpredictable world outside and introduced us to a world within- they encouraged our imaginations and unique interests. Recently, I watched a video of interviews with educators who reflected that their job was much more difficult than the rest of America made it out to be. The video brought tears to my eyes, along with a flood of memories of my best moments in school. I could write forever, but the point is, everything I am today, I owe to my amazing, compassionate, creative and tireless teachers. I hope that one day we live in a society where our educators are as respected as doctors and lawyers, because education is the most important aspect of a developing human's life." -Michelle Zhang, GlobeMed Member
“During the break, I didn’t miss classes. I didn’t miss homework, projects, deadlines, stress. I didn’t miss waking up early or staying up late cramming. What I did miss? Globemed. I missed my Globemedders. I missed being surrounded by passionate, creative, caring minds striving to do what was in their power to make the world a little happier. And I didn’t realize just how much I missed it until I was actually back here.” - GlobeMed Member
This winter break was exciting because I got to go to India and help there in ways I never would have thought. Globemed has values in helping others and acting to support social justice and health equity, and in India I was able to work there in just that. My family foundation focuses on public health economics on behalf of my great-grandfather and we funded a school in a rural village near my hometown. We even provided a solar panel and taught them how to use and maintain the power. I was fortunate enough to have been able to visit, meet, and speak with the villagers and the school principal there. It was awe inspiring and I was so glad to go. It made me appreciate Globemed and what we do even more!”-Ramya Bhavaraju, GlobeMed Member
“Over break I applied my broader understanding of the world and got to share my ideas with my friends and family. It made us all be more aware of the world we live in and open up a lot of perspectives.”- Yasmin Boloori, GlobeMed Member
“My break was hectic and full of work and travel, so the time that I did get to spend at home was very important for me. Collecting PNC money was easier than I thought, but explaining what Globemed was in a short, concise sentence was harder than expected because I just found myself rambling on forever lol.”- GlobeMed Member
“This winter break it was awesome to get to tell people about all of the hard work Globemed puts into their partnerships. It was great to see people’s reactions and their enthusiasm for the cause. Also a note to future self: Don’t wait too long to start PNC!”- GlobeMed Member, Corina
“Something my family in Canada discussed over break was the seeming onslaught of nationalism. But not with the negative connotation that the word can have in the United States. My family moved to Canada after being refugees in Portugal and Brazil, after the civil war in Mozambique. My stepmom reflected on how she had received a much warmer welcome from peers in Canada than she had received in Portugal, where she at least had a shared language. Based on my family’s experience, combined with the Canadian push in commercials to be a good neighbor, I couldn’t help but to wonder why they had such a different outlook than most of mainstream America. Canada is accepting Syrian refugees with open arms. Is it because there is higher percentage of more recent immigrants who feel some empathy to the current plight of many? Is there less media/politician propaganda on the dangerous nature of these people in need?” - GlobeMed Member
“This winter break was my first experience with extreme self-motivation. Usually there’s some short term goal involved, and the steps are dictated to me. However, the MCAT was just a single looming goal, and the outcome didn’t even seem real until the evening after I took it. I learned a lot about myself and my work ethic, as well as what it truly means to self-motivate yourself to achieve some distant goal. Before, I was worried that I would never be able to muster up the work ethic to do something great, and I’m so proud I finally proved to myself that I can stick to something and work hard at it on my own.” - GlobeMed Member, Maya Rao
“The most awesome thing that happened for me with PNC is that I asked a woman to donate and she told me she only had 4 dollars to live off of for the next two weeks, but that she really liked our cause and she gave me $2. I don’t know, just having someone giving all they could just put things into perspective.”- GlobeMed Member, Marissa
“During the break, I didn’t miss classes. I didn’t miss homework, projects, deadlines, stress. I didn’t miss waking up early or staying up late cramming. What I did miss? Globemed. I missed my Globemedders. I missed being surrounded by passionate, creative, caring minds striving to do what was in their power to make the world a little happier. And I didn’t realize just how much I missed it until I was actually back here.”- GlobeMed Member
“Before PNC this break I didn’t realize or had forgotten how caring our society can be about causes that do not concern them at all. Personally, it makes me feel a drive for a movement that I feel passionate about and feel obligated to fight for. It also made me realize that social justice and global health are issues that I plan to take part in for the rest of my life.” - GlobeMed Member, First Year
“This was my very first winter break at UT. After a very stressful finals week, I was relieved to go back home; I needed a break. As soon as the break started, an adventure began; I went to Paris, France, and Heidelberg, Germany for two weeks! I have family in both places so it was wonderful to see them, (just as nice as sightseeing in the beautiful countries, too). We did many touristy things: go to museums, climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, walk along The Champs-Elysées, and (of course) go all the way up the Eiffel Tower. I made some beautiful memories that I will always carry with me. My return from my European adventure only made me yearn to travel even more.”- GlobeMed Member
“My break was relaxing. I spent most of it napping or watching Grey’s Anatomy, with my (best friend) dog, Mr. Wiggles. For the holidays, I was very happy to spend time with my niece and two nephews for Christmas. I spent New Years in the comfort of my home with my family and it was the most peaceful New Years we have had in quite a while. In January, I spent quality time with my dad, him and I went to the San Antonio Coffee Festival, held every year at downtown. I also took a trip back to my high school and helped out with the Academic Decathlon team and the Debate team, as well as reunited with my former teachers and friends. The highlight of my break was receiving a care package from my former mentor, Dr. Brown, who was Chief Pathologist at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. I really appreciate him, especially because he gave me $50 toward my GlobeMed PNC money, he’s the best!<3 On a side note, I'm really optimistic about this new year in all aspects of my life and especially with GlobeMed.” - GlobeMed Member, Kimi
2015-2016 Blog Posts
World Cafe 2015 Reflection
By: Jimena Gamboa
Nov. 5th, 2015
This year, World Café was held on October 19 in the Student Activity Center, a building very dear to the student body. It was built by the students, for the students. Being part of the set up team was a bit hectic. Computer? Check. Microphones? Check. Coffee? Check. Good conversation? That’ll come soon.
We made it a point to have everyone sit with people they did not know. Yes, that’s a bit awkward at first, but it was a big part of the event. We wanted everyone to hear the voice of someone they would never normally hear from. The evening began by the facilitators introducing topics and background information for better understanding. Then, the panelists would give their opinions. Discussion sparked up. Topics such as Teach for America, international emergency relief, and the current Syrian refugee crisis were brought up. Even though we touched different subjects, everyone at my table happened to have a great insight into each one.
I especially loved this event because we were given the opportunity to listen and share to the opinions of strangers. We are in college to learn. Yes, learn about our majors and what jobs we want to have. But more importantly we are here to learn from each other. We are all students learning, but few of us get to voice our opinions.
There is so much for us to learn from. We HAVE to force ourselves to be involved and become advocates of our opinions. We will argue and we will meet people we completely disagree with, but we have to push ourselves to hear the one person we would never think we could have conversations with. This is an experience we don’t get tested on.
At the end, I talked to one of the panelist for a while. We both immigrated to the United States due to persecution in our home countries. We discussed the responsibility we feel to our people and the shared guilt of being the ones that left. Immigrating at a young age, especially in the times where you’re beginning to figure out who you are, is very difficult. We are caught between the two worlds. Wanting to hold on to our roots and also wanting to become a part of this new world. We both escaped for different reasons, but we still consider that we have a duty to our country.
Unfortunately, most of the time students (including me) choose to ignore the world around us because we are very busy with our own lives, school, and how we want to change the world. This is why I love GlobeMed. It’s about learning, about being exposed, and about giving me responsibility over my own knowledge.
2014-2015 Blog Posts
From Heart to Heart
By: Alice Jean
Feb. 14th, 2015
Take a moment, and close your eyes.
Think back to a time when someone did something unexpectedly nice for you or surprised you with their kindness.
Recapture the feeling of that moment.
Let it wash over you.
How did it make you feel?
Valentine’s Day—a day filled with candy, flowers, cards, and romantic outings. For some, it may mean spending time with a special someone. For others, it is a synonym for Single’s Awareness Day. However, based on its history, Valentine’s Day is more than just a celebration of love between lovers. The day’s namesake, St. Valentine, disobeyed the law that banned marriage under Emperor Claudius II’s rule and was sentenced to death. Therefore, he can be seen as someone who stood by love as a form of social justice, expanding the concept of love beyond himself and appreciating it in the context of a wider community.
A prime example of this ‘great love’ is our chapter’s partner, Clinica Ana Manganaro (CAM). I had the priceless opportunity to visit our partner clinic two summers ago, and I will never forget the feeling that constantly permeated every nook and cranny of the community: love. Love was always palpable. It was as if it were a natural part of the air. By interacting with the people at CAM, I literally discovered the meaning of “welcome with open arms,” for although I was in an unfamiliar place, singing “Radioactive” and “I Love It” from the back of a pickup truck with the sun in my face and the wind in my hair through the winding mountain roads and wooded forests stretching for miles, I felt immediately at home. Whether we were playing Uno while teaching our host family English or watching a telenovela with the utmost concentration, my host family truly made Guarjila my forever second home.
It was the simple things that stood out the most whether it was a giving me a random hug, patiently spelling their name letter by letter, or joking that I had become an unofficial part of the laboratory team. It was in those moments that I felt truly loved and valued. I felt a sense of validation that although I could not make the difference they were by providing quality healthcare for the community, I could make a difference in my own way whether filling out paperwork, checking patients in, or transferring the phone. Sometimes, I found out that just being present with a smile was enough.
From my time in El Salvador, the most powerful memory was when the whole community was gathered to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the passing of Ana Manganaoro, the namesake of our partner clinic. Near the end of the ceremony, a touching documentary about how she dedicated her life to establish quality healthcare in Guarjila was showing on the big screen when, suddenly, a man, who was missing his arms, began to scream at the screen. I looked around with hesitation, unsure of what to do or how to react, because based on my experience in the United States, I assumed he would be seen as a disruption and quickly ushered out.
I should have known better.
Without a single glare or negative word, some community members stood from their seats and approached the man, speaking softly as if they were comforting him. My eyes widened in disbelief, turning to my team members, who appeared equally shocked and confused. The community members patiently led him outside as the documentary continued to play. When the documentary ended and they had not returned, with knotted brows, I walked among the circles of people chatting and sharing stories about Ana Manganaro. I was surprised that I did not hear a single complaint about the man. When I finally found the courage to ask someone, it turned out that the community members had escorted him home because he had been drinking, and the documentary images of the war had probably distressed him. I suddenly understood, as many men in the community suffered from alcoholism due to their experiences fighting in the civil war. Since it was already pitch dark, the community wanted to ensure that he arrived home safely.
In front of my very eyes, I had clearly witnessed the power of love in action. Although the man’s behavior could have been labeled as rude and the community could have complained about the scene he caused, the community chose to extend their circle of love by embracing and accepting who he was. The strength of love in the community shifted my perception of others and sparked an epiphany. Love is more than between two people or even a family. Love is empathy and understanding among all members of a community. Moreover, love in itself can empower individuals and shape an entire community. Ana Manganaro practiced unconditional love, treating people on both sides of a devastating civil war, training then teenagers in the community to become the incredible nurses and staff they are at CAM today, and, most importantly, teaching the community how to love. Her legacy remains, and it was an important lesson that I will not only remember of the rest of my life but strive to act upon.
But a question remained in the back of my mind.
What if, like CAM, we made love a priority every day? Shouldn’t every day be Valentine’s Day in which you treasure those around you who support and love you unconditionally? It is my belief that we have the ultimate choice in positively impacting someone’s life and that it can be as simple as a thank you. With that said…
To you, who are taking the time out of your busy life to read this, thank you.
To you, who I may or may not have the pleasure of knowing, thank you.
Why? Because you matter. You do make a difference. You are an inspiration.
Just by being you.
Whether you are in a romantic relationship or not, please know that you are loved.
Because of you (yes, you), I have decided to participate in Brave the Shave this April. I hope to send a little love to people who may be having a hard time loving themselves. Regardless of where you are in your life, everyone can use a bit more love, so I dedicate this to you.
As Sai Baba once said, “Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.” Therefore, I hope that we all choose to spread it generously for not just today but every day. As they all say, home is where the heart is, so if we make love a goal every day, everywhere will be home.
In the spirit of Ana Manganaro and CAM, I challenge you to make every day a day of love!
Happy Valentine’s Day y con amor de GlobeMed,
Alice Jean (Alicita)
Winter Break Reflections
By: Kyle Hodges
Jan. 21st, 2015
I get this same feeling every time winter break approaches. All during the semester I feel like a little hamster on a wheel, running and running as the assignments and exams revolve with each turn of the wheel. Then suddenly, winter break takes hold of the wheel and I go flying off into the shavings, finally able to rest but also befuddled as to what to do with myself for approximately a whole month.
This time I had a solution for the winter break blues, however, and decided to actually plan out what I was going to do each week. Prudent hamster.
With a recommendation made by my mother, who is a physician, I decided that I would spend two weeks shadowing doctors and medical school students at the free clinic in my hometown (Temple Community Clinic).
I absolutely loved the experience I had being a shadow at the free clinic. So many passionate docs cycled through each day, each one specializing in something different with a unique set of skills to teach the medical school students. For example, Dr. Cunningham is a retired ophthalmologist who stressed the importance of a good eye exam, for the eyes can tell you a lot more about disease such as diabetes than I would have ever thought. These doctors that came to teach students and see patients for free were truly wonderful, kind people and I could not help but think about our partner clinic in El Salvador and the kind members of CAM.
People who have to go to the free clinic for medical assistance are working people, in fact they have to have an occupation to be able to go to the free clinic, but do not make enough money to afford regular health insurance or even Obamacare apparently. Each day I was there at the free clinic I saw how much these people needed this clinic in order to have sustainable lives, just like the patients of CAM. I also saw the common problems of these folk. Most, but not all, seemed to lack basic education about nutrition. Education being one of the most important things in life, I saw how this lack of education led to further problems, such as obesity and poor health. These, in turn, led to further problems such as Type II Diabetes, foot problems, and eye problems caused by diabetes (diabetes affects the arterioles of our blood vessels).
I learned the important utility of having educational sessions held by the free clinic. It then dawned on me that this year we are raising money in order to help rebuild the Guancora Health Clinic, which will serve this same function!
Shadowing at the free clinic strengthened my resolve to work harder towards becoming a doctor and also my attitude towards Globemed. More importantly, it help me understand and sympathize with the patients of a free clinic.
I hope everyone is ready for another great semester of classes and ‘doing it’ for CAM!
Semester in REview
By: Caroline Kelly
Dec. 17th, 2014
Wow. To do this kind of blog post is kind of silly, because each thing that I will briefly mention deserves its own post. However, when I decided I would attempt a “semester in review” post I continued to delay it each week, for there was always an upcoming event that I wanted to be able to include in my writing! Well, now it is the day before finals, the semester really is coming to an end, and I would love to take a few moments to reflect back and share all of the incredible things GlobeMed has done in less than four short months.
First of all, never did I ever think that I would find an organization whose priorities, ideology, model, and aspirations aligned so closely with mine. Walking out of the information session caused me to want to be apart of something more than I ever had before. During the entire presentation I was so incredibly excited, with each passing slide I think the smile on my face grew bigger and bigger as I would turn to Alice (who was sitting next to me, with that same excitement) and freak out a little more and more. Afterwards, I tried to use words to express how much I had already fallen in love with GlobeMed, how it was the perfect fit for me, how I agreed with everything the organization stood for, how I desperately wanted to be a member, and how it just triggered pure joy and excitement out of me. Through smiles and giggles, all expressions of excitement, we understood that we were on the exact same page. I learned that she was already starting her last year (L don’t leave us!), and if this is what the members were like, all the more reason to join! I immediately called my mom on my way back to my dorm, telling her all about the organization, talking so fast that she probably only comprehended a few words. Luckily, my application did the trick and she has had many opportunities since to hear all about it. As did the rest of my family. And all of my friends. And I hope many more that I come in to contact with over these four years and beyond because health inequity is a huge issue, one that can be overcome, and NEEDS to be heard. So! What have we done as a chapter to accomplish this?
First, we bonded at the retreat in order for all of us new members to get to know everyone and for them to get to know us J. This was done at Pease Park. During this time I got to hear the story of how GlobeMed was first started, history that I was anxious to learn! Right after this we had GlobeMed school graduation and the sorting hat told us which committees we would be joining! GlobeMed school was a great way to be introduced into the chapter, for the model is not a simple one, but an incredibly important one, for it gets at the heart of partnership and empowerment aspects of the health inequity movement. So, in order for us to all be learned members, we learned what exactly this all meant. J I became a member of the outreach committee, whom I love dearly and am so fortunate to be a part of! We have reached out to many for our events like World Café, (which went VERY well—thanks to our speaker, all who attended, and the provoking questions and case studies inspired by GhU!) our co-sponsored event of Extreme Medicine (truly inspiring—a must look up if you are unfamiliar with Dr. Rick Hodes), our profit share at Red Mango (so yummy and a great excuse to order extra, pile on the toppings, or get treats to go!), \and our benefit dinner (a solid night of fun! Thank you for all of the food, raffle and salsa instructing donations!) I have learned how to be one of those awkward tablers who earnestly seek your attention, yearn for a few moments of your time, so that you may see what we are so passionate about and possibly join our movement too. Or at the very least go kayaking, at the same time helping our cause. Part of what I specifically do being on outreach is coordinating our volunteer events. So far we have gone to the Capitol Area Food Bank of Austin, but I am psyched to show you guys what all is in store for next semester.
As we all expressed at our delightful and delicious Thanksgiving dinner, I am truly thankful for GlobeMed, and for each and every one of you. Thank you for making my Wednesdays bright, for inspiring me to be do more each and every day, and for sharing a passion that really can and will change our world. I love you guys and cannot wait to look back on seven more semesters; actually I can, I do not want to rush this sweetness!
By: Mitchelle Flores
Nov. 27th, 2014
I have never been the type of girl who documents her days in a journal. It rarely happens, but there was something about our potluck on Friday night that made me want to sit down and write about the moment to make it last forever…
Food. Fun. Family. That’s what typically comes to mind when I think about my Thanksgiving holiday, and our GlobeMed Friendsgiving certainly did not fail to lack in either of those areas. The turn out for food was beyond our expectations. We had a wide variety of main courses, side dishes, and desserts; I am sure all of us gained at least 3 pounds by the end of the night!
There was also a lot of laughter and joy, which nonetheless was expected. I mean what else can come from such an amazing company? I was surrounded by lively souls and people with the most beautiful hearts… which brings me to my absolute favorite part of the night: the most precious moment where we gathered in a circle and each talked about what we we thankful for.
Mine was fairly simple. I am thankful for having a home with a loving family that I can always go back to as well as my friends for being my family away from home. I remember looking around the room and gazing at the people before me and I thought “Mitchelle, you did good”. Like everyone else, I made mistakes before in my life and I know I will make plenty more in the future, but there is one thing I know I did right. There is one thing that I can hold on to and be content with if somehow, someway the other aspects in my life go wrong. It is GlobeMed. It has been almost a year and a half ago since I have joined the organization and within that time GlobeMed has brought me purpose, personal growth, and gifted me with a lifetime experience as well as life-long friendships.
My fellow GlobeMedders and I. We are all grateful for the support and our chance to change the world.
Recently, I had to provide one of the co-presidents with a quote that summarized my 2014 GROW Trip [For the readers who aren’t familiar with our GROW Internships, these trips that are held every summer allow 4-5 chosen members from our chapter to visit our partner, Clinica Ana Manganaro (CAM), in Guarjila, El Salvador. There, our interns are able to spend time at the clinic, evaluate our former projects, and further strengthen our relationship with our partner.] Now it was hard for me to summarize such an experience in a sentence or two, but I ended up saying this: “GROW truly was a once in a lifetime experience. It was refreshing as well as inspirational to see such an immense amount of care and concern that people in the Guarjilan community have for one another. To have a community SO concentrated with the most compassionate, resilient people can be difficult to find in this world, and I am glad I was able to witness this rarity.”
To my fellow Globemedders, thank you. Thank you so much for your passion to create sustainable change in this world, especially for CAM. Sitting in that circle that night not only resembled the solidarity we need and have within our work and movement, but it also allowed me to see that rarity in my aforementioned quote.
Lastly, thank you to those who have supported us. I was blessed enough to see the impact and change that GlobeMed has made within the past four years we have been partnered with CAM, and the change is there. I saw it. I can literally talk on and on about this and what we do, but then this post will truly end up being a novel!! So once again,to our supporters, thank you. Thank you for helping us help our partner to continue to grow and do wonders for the Guarjilan community.
World cafe 2014 reflections
Nov. 3rd, 2014
With the success of World Café 2014, here are some of our members’ memorable takeaways:
“World Café was a reinvigorating experience for me because the passion of the participants in the room was almost palpable because everyone had unique perspectives and were excited to share new ideas with open minds. The discussions I heard and Mrs. Jamie Amelio’s thought-provoking talk were more than enough to reinspire me to continue to do more. As I begin to realize how essential and influential policy is to ensuring social justice for all, the divisions within government and the complex political system can seem like daunting and almost impossible challenges to overcome. However, as Ms. Amelio emphasized, with determination and accumulation of the small deeds of many, anything is possible. Mrs. Amelio’s story began with changing the life of one young girl to transforming the lives of thousands of students across the country of Cambodia through sustainable education projects and community involvement, so I was empowered to believe that I, too, can successfully advocate for change on a larger scale by continuing to reach out to more people and taking action together.”
“I walked out of World Cafe feeling inspired and informed, not only about the issues that prevail in distant parts of the world, but also about the ones that are immediately present in our own communities. It was refreshing to see so many students, both within and outside of GlobeMed, who are passionate about these issues and wanted to effect change on some level. It was, among other things, a humbling experience; I learned so much from each and every person who shared their thoughts at World Cafe, who brought diverse perspectives and different fields of knowledge into the discussion. But if there’s one thing that everyone agreed upon, it was that, in order to make change happen, we must begin to think of ourselves as a global community rather than isolate ourselves by borders–whether those borders are physical, cultural, or ideological. GlobeMed is taking huge steps towards that goal, and I feel proud to be a part of that. Ms. Jamie Amelio’s personal journey of founding Caring for Cambodia proved that change on any level is possible, as long as someone cares about the global community enough to do something about it. She presented a challenge to us, to the next generation of change-makers–one that really stirred something in me, as I’m sure it stirred something in each of us–to get bothered and stay bothered about an issue bigger than ourselves. Each of us holds some issue close to our heart, but the question has always been, “Are we willing to act upon it?” Ms. Amelio’s story, the success of GlobeMed, and engaging with my peers at World Cafe proved to me that we are.”
“What did I take from World Café? I was bothered. Stay with me—it wasn’t in the way you might think.
Our guest speaker, Jamie Amelio, founder of Caring for Cambodia, delivered a beautiful and empowering talk. She told us the story of how one little girl simply asking her for a dollar drastically changed both their futures forever.
Jamie Amelio painted the picture of the dilapidated, filthy, and inadequate school buildings in Cambodia. As a student at UT Austin, where lecture halls are more than spacious enough, the seats are comfortable, technology is everywhere, and the professors are experienced and knowledgeable…it’s almost impossible to picture a world like theirs. Thankfully, it’s no longer like that because of Amelio’s work. And all it took was one child asking for a dollar. How amazing.
During her talk, I was undoubtedly inspired. And that’s just what her goal was. She told us to take her words, her pictures of the old school buildings, and let them bother us. Not just there, in the ballroom, where she was speaking to us, but every day. She told us to be bothered, and stay bothered. This is the only way change can be made. It’s so easy, in a life where basic necessities are covered, to forget that it’s not like that everywhere. People are struggling. It needs to change. And all it really takes is to be bothered.”
By: Liliana Vasquez
July 23rd, 2014
During my time on GROW most of my days were spent exploring Guarjila and hanging out in the homes of community residents. On some days the walk up the steep hills to reach someone’s house seemed never ending. I can’t even count the number of times that I jumped into shallow creeks while trying to hop over them in an effort to reach a person on the outskirts of the community. This became a regular part of my mornings while shadowing the health promoters at CAM. For me this job has entailed carrying around little coolers containing influenza and tetanus vaccines and bags filled with abate chemicals to kill dengue-transmitting mosquitos all over Guarjila. Health promotion at CAM is a system that involves having trained health promoters go out into various sectors of Guarjila every day, knocking door to door to check on how the community is doing regarding all health related needs. Health concerns can include checking on under weight and at risk children, visiting pregnant women, and checking on the elderly. Health promoters sometimes run large-scale rural vaccination campaigns for young children and vulnerable adult populations or conduct unexpected checks on homes where domestic violence has been reported.
One of the major community health concerns is that the residents of Guarjila sometimes have a hard time following health regulations set by CAM, such as the ones to control for dengue. Residents in the community also have a difficult time going in for regular wellness check-ups or for vaccinations. This is where the health promoters work to bridge the gap between the people and CAM. The two health promoters who covered all of Guarjila, Haydee and Dina, always told me that the hardest part of their job was finding the proper balance between gaining everyone’s trust while remaining a respected authority when it came to discussing health concerns. This was something Dina and Haydee knew how to do almost flawlessly. Community members would often times want to sit down and talk with them about matters that were outside the concerns of CAM such as community gossip or personal issues.
I remember on one home visit while checking up on a pregnant woman who had previously had three miscarriages Dina and I stayed at her house while she cried and talked about how scared she was about her pregnancy. The woman said that without Dina’s support or home visits she didn’t think she could make it through her pregnancy. Another time while out with Haydee we listened to an elderly woman who was almost mute rant about her frustrations towards her alcoholic husband and his friends. Even though we almost couldn’t understand what she was saying Haydee said it was important to stay and listen to her personal problems because listening and talking to someone is a form of health promotion work.
The purpose of every home visit was to assess a specific policy or campaign that the clinic was asking the health promoters to run in the community. It was obvious though that every visit extended a lot further than the standard expectation. People would always spend time telling the health promoters about their fears and stressors in their lives in a manner I would only expect someone would say to a friend. Haydee and Dina told me that despite all the paperwork and mandatory checks for disease the most important part of the job was creating a genuine connection with individuals. They always told me that beyond the strict rules that CAM would sometimes enforce for the good of the community it was always important to remember and consider the concerns of every individuals whose personal issues mattered just as much as those of Guarjila as a whole.
Health promotion in Guarjila has over time dropped the rates of dengue in the community and other seasonal illnesses. This community practice is an incredibly innovative approach towards creating a robust healthcare system in a rural area and shows how CAM knows the needs of their community. When thinking about general public health administration and policy making it is easy to become so engrossed in the needs of a community that the thoughts and unique struggles of the individuals who compose that community can be easily forgotten. Looking back on GROW and as I continue to be part of a movement to promote health equity and social justice I hope I will never forget the important lesson Dina and Haydee taught me through their routine home visits. Every community that is impacted by public policy and social welfare is not just a mass of people who share a geographic location, cultural identity, history of marginalization, or some other ‘defining trait’ that makes them all similar. Communities are created by very complex webs of human emotions, struggles, dreams, and lives that are all intertwined. In order to effectively address health or any other social concerns there needs to be an effective balance between general community management and directly paying attention too and caring for the individuals within it.
Immigration in El Salvador
By: Elizabeth Vasquez
July 13th, 2014
On our second week in Guarjila, El Salvador, the GROW team was noticing a recurrent theme that kept being brought up by members of the community. That theme was immigration. As this is my second year coming to visit our partner, I noticed the issue then. When we would converse with the members of the community, they would mention that they have a close relative that immigrated to the US. The first time I heard an immigration story was from my host family last year, which I am living with again this year. My host mother’s oldest son immigrated to the US illegally for the second time while the GROW 2013 team was there. I knew she was going through a hard situation, but she confided in me to tell me the story of the first time her son attempted to go, along with the hardships that come with the risky journey to the US.
Her son is 27 years old, which is around the common age of the people who go to the US. This is because this is the age people start having a family, and need money to provide for them. Before taking the trip, the person who wants to go needs to get a loan of about $9,000 (called pisto here) from the person who smuggles them into the US. They call this person a coyote. This loan gives the immigrants 3 chances to make the trip. For example, if someone goes the first time, but gets caught and sent back to El Salvador they can still try 2 more times. The money is paid back to the coyote after the person has found a job in the US and is able to make money.
The journey starts with the coyote driving around 6-8 people through El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. There is usually no problem crossing these countries since you do not need papers. One of the hard parts is crossing into the Mexican border. The immigrants face the risk of being trapped by gangs in Mexico such as the Zetas. This gang uses the immigrants to either smuggle drugs or money into the US, since the immigrants are from a different country. If the immigrants don’t abide by their rules they are tortured by starvation and other inhumane things to the point of death. The journey is even riskier for women who try to go to the US. The women face the risk of being raped, molested or abducted by the members of the gangs in Mexico. The way they cross the Mexican border is by jumping onto the tops of the trains. My host mother would say, “My poor son suffered so many nights without eating; and every day he would live in fear that he would get trapped by the gangs.” If the Mexican border is crossed without any major problems, next is the US border. These immigrants usually cross from the border in McAllen, Texas. They go through the hardship of crossing the Rio Grand where a lot of border patrol habit. If they cross the US border successfully, they then immigrate to the northern states such as New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. These are the common states where the people coming from El Salvador go. My host mother mentioned how it takes the immigrants somewhere from 1-2 months to get to their destination, and if they have problems during their trip, they can take up to 3 months.
The reasons these men and women risk their lives to go to the US is to search for job opportunities that they otherwise do not have here. The people of Guarjila live on about $3-5 per day. There is not much jobs in Guarjila for men or women. The only jobs are construction or farming crops. The job insecurity issue reflects the difficulty of obtaining an education here mainly because it is hard to afford. As a GlobeMedder, I reflect upon the stories that have been told to me and although immigration is not an easy issue to comprehend or solve, it is important to be aware and recognize how this can affect the community.
Where Should I look?
By: Ciara Redmond
July 9th, 2014
I had no idea what to expect when I came to Guarjila to spend a month with our partner, Clinica Ana Manganaro. A small incidence with my salivary gland made things even more nerve wrecking as I was forced to delay my trip one week. I was convinced that I would be the pale one that did not speak Spanish and decided to arrive whenever she wanted, and that everyone would hate me, never learn my name, and never accept me as part of the team. While I am still the pale, late one that still cannot speak more than very basic Spanish, today, on my last full day of my GROW experience, I have experienced nothing but kindness, warmth, and laughs during my time with CAM and the various people I have been introduced to here, and I believe that my entire GROW trip could be defined as a lesson in learning where to look.
Guarjila, like many rural areas of El Salvador, has suffered greatly from the brutal civil war that raged here from 1979-1992. They are resilient people and there will never be a day from now on that I will not be inspired by all that they have overcome. Twenty years later and they are still struggling with immigration, education, lack of purified water, physical and psychological issues stemming from the brutal fighting, and overall lack of opportunity. It is so hard and feels so wrong in a way to write about these things because I cannot allow people to only see the hardships. Unfortunately, you must understand their challenges and needs to truly appreciate how wonderful their achievements are with their clinic and several other projects in the community.
To arrive at my main point, our walk to the clinic each day brings us through most of the main areas of Guarjila and being five American girls brought us quite a lot of harmless, but definitely unwanted attention. We spent much of our fifteen minutes firmly staring at the ground avoiding all possibilities of eye contact. With our heads down we missed out on so much of the beauty Guarjila offers between the amazing scenery that makes the torrential downpours at night (that make trips to the latrine at 3 AM difficult and washing clothes pointless in my opinion) worth it, and we missed out on the people who have shared their food, stories, homes, and community with us.
On my last day at the clinic I sat on a bench with Mitchelle to write while we waited for the other girls to eat, and I was quickly engrossed in my very accurate drawing of the clinic. When I finally looked up, I saw Norma, the woman that organizes the chaos that is having paper files for thousands of patients and can find any person in a matter of seconds. She smiled her quiet smile and all of the memories of sitting at her computer entering information into excel while Mitchelle helped her sign in the many patients for the day came flooding back. As we sat there, many others hustled by, always with a million things to do, but always with a huge smile for us. Each person that walked by brought many similar and very happy memories rushing back. These were the people that took us into their community, let us “help” at their desks, or in the lab, or taught us how to make torundas (small cotton things used for everything, apparently, as we needed to make thousands), all of which probably made their jobs harder, but they could not have been more willing to take the time to teach us and more thankful for that “help”. Carol, Dina, Reinady, Telma, Magdalena, Estela, Elias, Sindy, Marlene, Carmen, Angelica, Gladis, and many more are all people who deserve to have us look up and pay attention. When GROW is over it is not the time for us to look down and see only our schoolwork, jobs, or friend drama. Those are important, living our lives is important, but we must balance looking down and looking up. Looking up is to take action to ensure that the work of my family at CAM and many, many communities around the world can have the support they need to amplify their work to advance the health of their communities.
I will never forget the heartbreak that I have felt for my Salvadoran friends when I hear their stories of the war, or see the pain in their eyes when they speak of loved ones in the extremely dangerous path of illegal immigration, or feel the frustration of seeing such an intelligent and driven person miss out on an education that could better the lives of themselves and their entire family because of lack of resources. But even more, I will always remember the smiles, the pupusas, and the incredible generosity that is giving everything you have to help and welcome others.
Tomorrow I leave behind my family, my community, and our incredible partner, but I take with me wonderful memories, a certainty that our partner changes lives every day, and an even stronger passion and belief in the need for our movement towards global health equity.
By: Mitchelle Flores
During my first day at CAM, I walked around the community of Guarjila with Haydee (pronounced “eye-deh”) and Liliana. Haydee is one of the four health promoters at CAM. Amongst other things, her usual job is to vaccinate the people living within the sector that she is assigned that day. This time was different though since there were suspicious cases of dengue that had been reported. Whenever this occurs, the health promoters perform dengue check ups in the community every three days. When necessary, they also educate the occupants on preventative methods.
One of my initial thoughts while walking around Guarjila with Liliana and Haydee was the level of dedication and care that is invested into the community; it’s truly ineffable. When you look at a map of Guarjila at the clinic, you are able to see the sectors that it is broken into. We live up north in Sector K. CAM is in the south within Sector C. On this day, Haydee was doing her rounds in Sector K so to even get to her assigned sector was quite a walk. Most of the terrain is hilly, rocky, and since it rained the night before, there was “lodo” (mud) everywhere. The distances to each house varied from next door to what feels like miles away. And mind you, Haydee also had bags and papers to carry, too. The mere fact that the health promoters did all of this JUST to further aid in the prevention of dengue astonished me.
Now the dengue check-ups typically went like this:
1) Look at the pilas for larvae.
2) Regardless if there were larvae present or not, Haydee would poke holes in these little baggies called abate (pronounce “ah-bah-tay”) and place them in each corner of the pila to prevent future larvae from growing. The baggies look as if they’re filled with sand, but they are actually a chemical. It’s not harmful to use the water with these abate as long as it’s not ingested.
3) Check other still water sources such as tires or buckets.
4) Haydee then would fill out her chart. It involved writing the names of the occupants, if the occupants were home or not, the number of water sources in the home, if larvae was present or not, and how many abate she left.
But the most interesting situations are in which larvae are found in the household. We went to one house on our list where there was a woman and her children present during the time of our visit. It was actually the first house of our day where we saw larvae in the pila. It’s basically finding these tiny, wormy things that squirm in the water. She also had this huge blue barrel next to the pila that was filled to the rim with water, but Haydee didn’t find any larvae there. As part of her job, Haydee is instructed to tell the occupants that they should throw out all water sources if larvae is present anywhere. The woman didn’t want to fully abide by that advice because the day before was her refill day, and so she would lose all her water for days. Thank goodness she had that blue barrel to depend on because what exactly is the solution for someone in a plight like this?
Coincidentally enough, the next day there was a staff meeting in the clinic that also addressed dengue. A heated debate arose when discussing the action plan for the problem people within the area; those whose households consistently had larvae at least three times. A person mentioned that this responsibility lied with the health promoters. All they have to do is to tell the occupants to throw out their water. Of course the health promoters disagreed because they don’t want to be on the receiving end of that anger and secondly, it overall makes their jobs harder if there isn’t an amicable relationship between them and the occupant in the household. What ended up happening was that a sign was posted around the clinic informing everyone about the families who consistently had larvae. Of course, drama around the community ensued, and most of the signs were taken down hours later. It singled people out and compromised the trust that the health promoters had with their occupants. On the other hand, what does one really do when the actions of a group of people who are not taking the precautions they need to not only affects their health, but the overall well being of the community? Any possible solution is difficult, especially with a small, close-knit community and the system for the resources here.
Last tidbit: In recent news, there is this new disease from Africa that the Guarjilan people have been informed about. It is called Chikungunya (try to pronounce that. We all still struggle with it) and is similar to dengue. CAM has started taking measures to prevent this disease from breaking out in Guarjila.