Of the 98 very excited college students having a conversation at the GlobeMed convention in Chicago last weekend, two have come back to Colorado College with big plans.
GlobeMed is a burgeoning nationwide effort involving 50 prestigious schools, aiming to improve global health with hands-on interaction with NGOs. Senior Sarah Phillips and junior Sarah Freeman are bringing it to CC.
Phillips first learned about the group while interning at Partners in Health in Boston where her fellow interns were all a part of GlobeMed at their respective universities. When Phillips returned to CC, her first move was to contact Freeman, whom she had met on a trip to Chile as an underclassman. They were both on the pre-med track and interested in global health.
Together they did the necessary footwork to make GlobeMed a reality at CC.
The particular NGO that the CC GlobeMed chapter is associated with is WOPLAH, or Western Organization of People Living with HIV/AIDS. Phillips and Freeman communicate with the leader of WOPLAH, Edwin, over Skype. Although the plan is to “jointly design a project, mobilize funds, and begin implementation in the 2012-2013 academic year,” at this point the two parties are just getting to know each other.
“We need to know each other to work with each other,” said Freeman. “They’re really funny.”
But all jokes aside, plans are already in the work.
WOPLAH recently sent over a document that details various plans and calculates their costs. One of their initiatives includes giving poor women goats, a simple yet effective strategy.
The goat provides steady income from milk and cheese. If times are hard and the women need money quickly, they can sell the goat for fast cash. This security is at the core of a woman’s right to safety and autonomy, especially since many of these women currently rely on their husbands for survival. In AIDS-stricken Kenya, not being able to tell your husband to wear a condom because he’s your source of food is disastrous for sexual safety.
Projects like this are what make the prospect of GlobeMed at CC so highly anticipated. Through GlobeMed, students can actually witness an idea that they themselves dreamt up, used, and tested across the planet in real places with real people.
“I feel like outside of class, a lot of students here aren’t really engaged,” said Freeman. “This is something they can really sink their teeth into.”
Now it’s up to the students of Colorado College to make it happen.
A staff member is needed to achieve GlobeMed’s goals, which include education and fundraising as much as hands-on activities. Ideally, the club will have members of all majors and interests.
“I don’t just want this to be pre-med students,” said Freeman. “I want Sociology majors, English majors, Economics majors, etc. I want this group to be diverse, anybody who is passionate.”
If the club is everything Freeman and Phillips hope it will be, then the possibilities are extensive. Phillips hopes to build a program where students can travel to Kenya to work with WOPLAH. The intercollegiate connections with schools like Brown and Columbia could create long-term relationships that would last in the field of global health, even after graduation.