GlobeMed at Columbia University

GlobeMed aims to strengthen the movement for global health equity by empowering students and communities to work together to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world. GlobeMed is an international community of students and grassroots organizations who form long-term partnerships, the heart of GlobeMed's model. Together, the chapter and partner organization implement specific health and development projects, communicating on every aspect from initial design to monitoring and evaluation. In just four years, GlobeMed established chapters at 46 universities across the United States, inspiring thousands of students to become lifelong advocates for global health equity. We co...
Jun 22, 2012

GROW Interns are back in the US with lots to share

HIV positive mothers with their healthy babies
HIV positive mothers with their healthy babies

Kop ango? or "How are you" in Luo, the local language of Northern Uganda!

GlobeMed at Columbia's Grassroots On-site Work (GROW) team returned last week from their internship in Gulu. Our team was working with Gulu Women's Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G) to evaluate our current project and develop our project for next year. However, our experience transcended that of just working there. We were able to form deep friendships with the GWED-G staff and really connect with the beneficiaries of our HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention project.

While in Gulu, we went out to rural villages almost every day to meet beneficiaries and engage with them about their lives. Meeting the HIV positive mothers and their healthy children was extremely moving.  We were especially touched by the story of Beatrice, an HIV positive woman who has been working with GWED-G since 2007. When GWED-G staff first met Beatrice, she was in the throes of HIV. She was hiding in her house, not able to get up and reach a hospital because she was too weak to walk to the nearest health center, which was some kilometers away. GWED-G staff took her blood and realized that her CD4 count was seven. A CD4 cell is a type of white blood cell that fights infection and is targeted by the HIV virus. Beatrice's CD4 count meant that she only had seven of this type of white blood cell in each cubic milliliter of her blood. A normal number of CD4 cells is 500 to 1,500. Having only seven would yield your body with no weapons to fight infection. Thankfully for Beatrice, she had met the right people because she was able to start antiretrovirals soon afterwards. After getting treatment, Beatrice approached her local health center, wanting to do something to help others who were suffering like she had. She took on the voluntary job of community health worker, spreading awareness and counseling HIV positive patients. She is now the chairman of her Village Health Team, a group of 20 community health workers, and often travels with GWED-G campaigns to impart her knowledge on others.

Beatrice is only one of the women, men, and youth who are beneficiaries of our project. There are many like Beatrice who learn from GWED-G and then spread this education to others. Men from youth groups spread their knowledge by playing cards with their peers, or traveling household to household. HIV positive mothers educate fellow mothers about preventing transmission of the virus to their babies. This is not because they have to, but because they feel that everyone in their community should have the same knowledge they have.

GlobeMed at Columbia's project is truly making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable people in Northern Uganda. Your contributions to our project made this happen, and we hope you continue to support ours and GWED-G's work, whether it is through donations or in thought. And check out our GROW team's blog below to learn more about what they did on the ground in Gulu and how their experiences affected them today.

Beatrice, the chairman of the Village Health Team
Beatrice, the chairman of the Village Health Team
GROW team with the Palema parish Youth Group
GROW team with the Palema parish Youth Group
Beatrice working at an HIV blood screening
Beatrice working at an HIV blood screening
The 2012 GROW team with GWED-G staff at the office
The 2012 GROW team with GWED-G staff at the office

Links:

Mar 26, 2012

Youth Groups Mobilize HIV/AIDS Counseling!

Community members in Amuru at VCT
Community members in Amuru at VCT

We have exciting updates from Gulu, Uganda about GlobeMed at Columbia's HIV/AIDS initiative with GWED-G! In the past few weeks, there have been several Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) events in Amuru District, Uganda. Youth groups that were formed as part of GlobeMed's partnership with GWED-G mobilized over 150 community members to receive free HIV testing and counseling without having to face the potential stigma and inconvenience of getting tested at a health center. A Village Health Team formed by GWED-G helped the youth groups make these VCT events become a reality. They are even wearing tshirts with the GlobeMed logo on them! 

Stigmatization of HIV/AIDS is one of the major barriers to health for communities in Gulu, Uganda. People often do not get tested because they fear how their peers will view them if they think they are infected. GWED-G directly combats this stigmatization through these events and other education campaigns. Another important aspect of these VCT events is the involvement of youth groups. Educating the youth is the key to a healthier community. By empowering them with health knowledge, GWED-G allows them to be agents of social change. Keep following our project to hear more updates about youth groups and the rest of our HIV/AIDS project in Gulu, Uganda!

Village Health Team workers
Village Health Team workers
Community members being tested by GWED-G
Community members being tested by GWED-G
Counseling session
Counseling session
Feb 19, 2012

Men's Advocacy Groups Formed in Three Parishes

Having surpassed our original annual fundraising goal by a whopping $11,000, we are looking forward to expanding our project past the original projected figures. We want to thank all of our donors who made this our most successful fundraising semester ever! Without your generous contributions, we could never have made GWED-G's dream a reality.

GlobeMed at Columbia recently had a Skype call with Pamela Angwech, the Executive Director of GWED-G to discuss the progress of our project and we have received some exciting news! Although GWED-G has not yet received all our funds, the staff has gotten started on many of the initiatives that our project outlines. They have officially formed Positive Men's Unions in three parishes in Gulu, so we are halfway to the expected six groups that will be formed by the end of the project. These groups have started participating in HIV/AIDS education and awareness with GWED-G staff, with the next workshops set to focus on HIV prevention. According to Pamela, the men are enthused about being chosen for this group. This enthusiasm to learn will hopefully spread amongst other community members.

GWED-G has also began recruiting Community Health Workers (CHW) for a Village Health Team. These CHWs will undergo intensive trainings in order to strengthen their abilities in counseling, follow-up, and treatment. Staff members have also chosen students to participate in youth groups focused on reproductive health and other important health issues in their communities. Like the Positive Men's Unions, the enthusiasm of the students in these youth groups will hopefully spread among the school communities.

These HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives currently being implemented have begun expanding into new villages in which GWED-G has not yet had the opportunity to work. They are excited about the prospect of establishing a center for testing and screening so people will have the proper privacy, and the money that we raised from our GlobalGiving campaign should arrive in Gulu via wire transfer in the very near future.

Since we met our original fundraising goal, we want to expand past the original initiatives that our project outlined. Pamela expressed her desire to add income-generating initiative to our project. Income-generating projects such as providing goats, teaching beekeeping, or making crafts would allow men and women to follow-through with what they have learned in GWED-G trainings. GWED-G teaches expectant mothers about nutrition and health, but mothers often don't have the means to access this nutrition and healthcare. Giving them a method of generating income would allow them to prosper and have good health. Having enough income to acquire nutritious foods is essential to the health of the HIV positive patients. Without good nutrition, those afflicted with HIV will have a hard time battling the disease. Taking on this project would mean we would need to raise an additional $5,000. We are confident that we can achieve this goal eventually, but the discussion with Pamela is still open. Income-generation is extremely important in these communities, so we hope that we can support them as much as possible. 

Our chapter has been very busy at Columbia coordinating fundraising and awareness-raising campaigns for GWED-G. View our quarterly report from these past few months to check out how we raise money outside of GlobalGiving. The report profiles events such as World AIDS Week, Trivia Night, and GlobeMed HillTop Global Health Conference at which over 100 students from 14 different colleges came together for a series of lectures, discussions, and panels.

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