GlobeMed is a campus organization in its infancy. The group, founded only this past fall, “partners university students with grassroots organizations around the world to improve the health of the impoverished,” said founder of Lawrence’s GlobeMed chapter Beth Larsen. The focus on global health problems leads to a few misconceptions that students have about the organization.
“This is not a pre-med group; a lot of people assume that what we do only pertains to medicine, but global health encompasses more than just medical needs,” Larsen said, pointing out that students with diverse interests are already members of the group who work year-round in order to raise money for the organization with which they are paired.
The organization Lawrence’s chapter is paired with is called FUNDPRONID, a group based in Licto, Ecuador that supports indigenous disabled children. The group also works with the elderly and young girls. This year, GlobeMed focused on raising $5,000 to send 120 orphaned children to school, providing tangible results that can improve the children’s living conditions.
Larsen is quick to point out that notions of improving the lives of people in developing countries can be problematic. “We are by no means telling them how to run their communities because frankly we don’t live there or have a clue what they actually need, but they do. We are not representatives of a Western nation impressing our beliefs on an underdeveloped community, but we work together, in pragmatic solidarity, to build these relationships.”
It is a collaborative effort that seeks to provide funding where funding is more necessary as determined by the organizations paired with GlobeMed chapters, which requires year-round contact with the president of FUNDPRONID, Luis Alfredo. Larsen stressed that GlobeMed is “not just fundraising and a summer trip.” Rather, GlobeMed focuses on building relationships offering 1-2 internships a year in Ecuador and continuing to be a visible fixture on the Lawrence campus.
Lawrence’s chapter of GlobeMed is one of 32 in the country with 14 more scheduled to be founded next fall. Larsen initiated the tedious application process and asked Emma Kane to be her co-president. For next year, GlobMed plans to host a benefit concert in the fall, a benefit dinner in the winter and another Strip for Solidarity event in the spring in order to start raising money for a two-year, $20,000- project to build a medical care facility for the elderly and disabled.
In addition to fundraising, students meet to discuss issues surrounding global health. “We have global health curriculum that is designed to get GlobeMed members thinking about global health issues and how [they are] affected by things such as sex, gender, socioeconomic status, education, resources [and] location,” Larsen said, reinforcing the fact that students with all kind of interests can get involved to see the world through a new lens and make tangible changes in a community thousands of miles away.