A Message from NJIT’s Chapter of Global Brigades
By Kristie Varghese
This past semester at NJIT, a new chapter of Global Brigades was formed. Global Brigades is an international non-profit organization that empowers communities to meet their health and economic goals through university volunteers and local teams.
If you do not know about Global Brigades, here is a quick recap of our goals for the NJIT/Rutgers community. Global Brigades aims to recruit members from the NJIT and Rutgers communities who are interested in participating in a Brigade trip to a third world community overseas. We decided to start a Global Brigades chapter at NJIT because we felt that students can help other communities besides our own, especially other countries that are not as privileged as us when it comes to medical and dental care. We also felt Global Brigades would be a good fit for NJIT because many students are interested in careers in STEM fields; by being part of this Brigade trip they are able to gain first hand experience and knowledge working to better communities in Panamá, Honduras or Nicaragua. Lodging, safety, food, travel, and supplies are taken care of by the executive board (and members) of the NJIT chapter, as well as with the help of the Global Brigades regional advisor.
The NJIT chapter of Global Brigades is responsible for raising about $3,500 for medical supplies including, but not limited to: vitamins, antibiotics, and various medications. We also have a need to donate sanitary supplies such as lice shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste as these communities do not have easy access to them, and those who can buy them need to travel far to obtain them. The money that is raised goes towards purchasing all supplies that will be used for the weeklong medical and dental clinic trip.
Students going on the trip spend the first day getting acquainted with other students from different universities, getting to know the area and the medical staff with whom they will be working alongside, and training with healthcare professionals on taking vitals. The rest of the week students are working with the medical staff by taking histories and recording data. On most trips, students are given the opportunity to aid dentists and doctors with any procedures, take filling cavities as an example.
To help build a better tomorrow for these rural communities, another main goal of Global Brigades is to make all our work a sustainable effort in the future. Students help teach the patients simple skills such as proper dental hygiene and how to treat wounds in seminars known as “charlas.” To keep a record of the status of these communities, every night all the volunteers join together to input data about the community and its overall status in terms of population, health, and any other information that can help Global Brigades identify what initiatives are more effective and where our organization can improve.
Executive board member Shruti Dharmaraj was lucky to have volunteered with NYU last spring semester on a Brigade trip to Hondurás. She worked closely with the dentists and doctors there, and was filled with joy as she was able to help children from the age of two years old to the elderly with problems they were having. She especially enjoyed being able to work with the children because they were so excited, and she was able to bring such a big smile to their adorable faces just by teaching them how to brush their teeth.
The little things we take for granted can impact less fortunate people and brighten their whole day. Being a volunteer and giving back to people all over the world in this manner is a rare opportunity, and being able to partake in this trip for a good cause taught Shruti and her friends so much.
NJIT’s Global Medical/Brigade chapter will be going on its first mission trip to Panama this spring break from March 12 to March 18. We have a brigade of approximately 30 volunteers, and through the support of our sponsors and our fundraisers on campus, we will be able to hold a free medical/dental clinic in Panama.