Two graduating students from the University of New Brunswick will be celebrating their graduation by travelling across the world to bring medical treatment to some of the world’s most underprivileged.
This May, fourth year medicinal chemistry students Helen Clement and Natasha Larivee are joining a Global Brigades group from Western University to participate in a medical brigade to Ghana, Africa.
For 10 days they will be setting up medical centres in disadvantaged communities to bring much needed health care to people who before may never have had access to a doctor.
“We’re graduating so we wanted to do something after – not going down south to drink or whatever, I don’t know, just something different. It’ll be a big life experience,” Clement said.
Larivee had participated in a Global Brigades mission to Honduras last year with UNB’s chapter and wanted to get involved again this year.
“I went last year and fell in love. I feel like I’m going to go every year of my life now because of how much I loved it,” she said. “It’s just a lot more fulfilling to me than just going on a personal trip. But after going to Honduras, the experience was amazing and I just want to go back and do it again.”
As well as regular health care, they will also be providing Ghanaians access to a dentist and a gynecologist.
“We’ll spend a week straight of just driving into communities and underprivileged communities and set up free medical clinics for 12 hour days or eight hour days and help as many people as possible,” Larivee said.
Although they could have joined the Global Brigades group from UNB who are returning to Honduras this year, Larivee said she wanted to experience a new country.
“We definitely could have picked to go to Honduras especially because UNB Global Brigades goes to Honduras,” she said. “Because I’d been to Honduras last summer I kind of wanted to experience Ghana so we contacted Western University and they said we could go with them.”
Global Brigades is a student-led organization that seeks to bring global health and sustainable development to regions of the world that unable to afford them.
Groups of students are given the chance to travel to four locations – Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Ghana – to help communities in the form of medical, financial and environmental brigades.
Larivee has seen firsthand how much setting up a medical centre can bring to a community. For her it has become something of a personal mission.
“I think that health is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a person because it extends to so many levels in other parts of their life,” she said.
“I’ve seen people not be able to enjoy any part of their life because they’re not healthy or they’re in so much pain they can’t move. So just to be able to give someone that relief is relieving to me I guess.”
Clement sees it as a chance to use what she has learned at university to help others.
“I feel like if I went somewhere that’s underprivileged and actually helped, I think this is something that I could actually be beneficial with, with all that I’ve learned in school and stuff,” she said.