Students provide medical services to third world countries
By Justin Sweitzer
Thirty people traveled to Nicaragua over winter break as members of KU’s Global Brigades program to provide medical service to those in need. The trip was over a nine-day period. The trip, which ranged from January 7-17, had students lead two brigades dedicated to medical services and public health in the Central American country.
According to President Samantha Amey, the group set up the first-ever vision screening station to provide eye care for Nicaraguan citizens.
The station was made possible through the donation of a $3,000 auto refractor machine, which allowed them to help 131 patients seeking eye care.
Overall, the KU chapter saw a total of 1,088 patients throughout the course of their three-day medical clinic. Amey said medical clinics include triage, dental care and vision care, while the public health brigade focused on building structures that provide a healthy environment for Nicaraguan people.
“For the public health [clinic] we put in concrete floors, built septic tanks, built latrines and freshwater stations for poor families,” Amey said.
The nonprofit, student-led organization traveled to Honduras in 2016, where they saw around 900 patients, according to Amey. She said Nicaragua presented a different experience than Honduras.
“In Nicaragua, the people would come there and they would hang out all day with us, they were there all day; they walked four or five hours to get to our clinic,” she said.
Amey said KU is looking to expand the types of brigades they go on, which also include brigades relating to water, human rights, environmental issues, business and microfinance.
“We’re trying to get more and more started here,” said Amey. “Next year we’re attempting to do a business brigade and we’re trying to do two medical brigades.”
Amey said they hope to return to Honduras and travel to Ghana next January.
Anyone is welcome to attend a brigade regardless of major or their educational status. Parents and past graduates can attend as well.
“We have creative writing majors that go with us, we have sociology majors, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be in the medical field or anything to go on a brigade. We even had past graduates who went with us,” she said.