UBC Okanagan students helping rural communities in Honduras

Ready for trip of a lifetime

A group of University of British Columbia Okanagan campus students are preparing for the trip of a lifetime. 

This May, students involved in Global Brigades will travel to Honduras to work alongside local doctors and help set up a mobile medical clinic where community members can access free healthcare.

As students, they will be educating children on how to wash their hands properly, how to brush their teeth properly, the importance of physical activity and other foundational aspects of good health, while trained community health workers will be working with the adults. 

The medical clinic will include medical professionals working in gynaecology, optometry, dental and pharmacy.

It's the first time UBCO has participated in the program, led by fourth year student Megan Lauridsen. 

Lauridsen had the privilege of attending a similar trip with the University of Victoria in Feb. 2019, and says her experience was so powerful, she wanted to bring the opportunity to UBCO.

Now, she's working with fellow team members Jeremy Mandy, Chelsea Kabatoff, Anna Bernath and Dominique Boswell to put together 900 hygiene packs for the community they will visit. 

About 450 hygiene packs will go to adults, and 450 to children, including sunscreen, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

An important aspect of the work is creating jobs and empowering local communities in Honduras, where the medical professionals are based, says Kabatoff.

"It’s huge to know that we don’t take away the jobs from the people in Honduras, and what we’re doing through Global Brigades is sustainable.

"We want them to be empowered at the end of it. We want to create empowered communities so we’re not just going there and then leaving, it’s happening all the time."

Mandy, a second-year biochemistry student, says he wanted to get involved with Global Brigades for the learning opportunity.

"They’re giving healthcare to rural areas that are really struggling with it, so that’s something I’d really like to jump in on. I'm trying to go into healthcare as a profession, and if I can shadow doctors I can get experience, and all the while I can provide good support to people in rural areas. With my background and where I'm from I've seen what happens when you don't have the basic needs just to live."

Mandy grew up in Uganda, where he says there is a huge disparity between the rich and poor.

Having grown up relatively wealthy, but not far from villages without running water or enough to eat, he believes he now has a responsibility to help.

To support the group, you can donate to the GoFundMe page

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