Amnesty and GlobeMed shift organzational goals

Molly-Judith Wilson

Two of Lawrence’s activist-based organizations, Amnesty International and GlobeMed, are undergoing structural changes this year. Amnesty International seeks both to better connect itself with its central organization and to work on educating its current members. GlobeMed has switched causes completely, focusing now on HIV prevention education in Rwanda while maintaining its close ties to the Appleton community.

Lawrence’s chapter of Amnesty International is setting up to better align itself with the national organization next term. Senior Neel Patel, president of the group, explained that while “last year we worked on a variety of different topics throughout the year, this year we’re trying to focus our efforts on one overarching topic per term.” This year’s topic will be the revocation of the death penalty.

By joining the national campaign, Lawrence’s chapter of Amnesty reaps benefits such as tool kits, assistance bringing in keynote speakers and an already established foundation of information and research. With these assets, the Lawrence chapter of Amnesty will be able to accomplish more in less time and with fewer people.

This term, Amnesty plans to spend its energies closer to home. To help educate the local public, the group is promoting the Povolny lecture series and film festival, for which the theme this month is “Engaging Human Rights.”

By spending time learning in-depth about the issues themselves, Patel said, “We will be able to formulate more educated opinions about certain issues.” This education is an essential part of Amnesty’s mission given that, as Patel noted, “One of the goals of Amnesty is to understand all viewpoints of an issue in order to make these complicated issues more accessible to people who aren’t as educated about human rights.”

GlobeMed has recently undergone changes as well, the most significant being their new partnership with an educational HIV prevention group in Rwanda.

Over the summer, as part of the HOPE International: GROW Internship Program, several students visited Ecuador to check on their partners there. The students discovered, however, that besides the Lawrence chapter of GlobeMed, the group in Ecuador had no funding. After spending several weeks attempting to work with the Ecuadorian government to no avail, GlobeMed, which seeks for long-term partnerships, was forced to cut ties with the volunteers in Ecuador and search for a new partner.

The group discovered the Health Development Initiative in Rwanda. The HDI runs education programs in secondary schools for HIV prevention and teaches the children there about AIDS and the preventative measures that can be taken against it.

Lawrence’s chapter of GlobeMed will be sending their fundraising profits directly to HDI. The head of GlobeMed, junior Beth Larsen, explained that they will be creating “projects we work together to develop.”

GlobeMed, however, does not solely work with international health institutions. Last year, the group organized “Strip for Solidarity,” a 5k run in which people donated their clothes to Goodwill.

More recently, GlobeMed members have been teaching in the classrooms at Richmond Elementary School in Appleton with the goal of educating the children on nutrition and helping them understand the problems facing the Rwandans.

Larsen explained that a prominent part of GlobeMed’s mission is to clarify the importance for universal education about global health. “GlobeMed is not just a pre-med group, but more human rights and advocacy based,” said Larsen.

She continued, noting that Lawrence’s chapter of GlobeMed seeks to remind us that “everyone plays a role in achieving global health equity.”