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UNB will host Global Brigades’ Sustainability and Leadership Conference next month. The conference will take place at the Wu Centre from Feb. 9-11.

Global Brigades is the largest student-led, non-profit health and sustainable development organization in North America and Europe. The organization’s mission is to empower volunteers and under-resourced communities, to resolve global health and economic disparities, and to inspire all involved to collaboratively work towards an equal world.

“This is the first time UNB is hosting the Global Brigades Leadership Conference, and we’re expecting around 150 people,” said Drew Robart, UNB Global Brigades campus chairperson and conference co-chair.

This year’s conference focuses on sustainability—specifically on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The conference will feature the participation of university students from all over the Maritimes, as well as members of Global Brigades Canada’s Board of Directors.

“We’re also flying someone in from Honduras to be guest speaker,” Robart said.

Robart became a member of the Global Brigades UNB chapter in his second year, after his sister—who had been involved in Global Brigades’s Mount Allison University chapter—encouraged him to get involved with the organization.

Since then, he has been to Honduras twice—although to different regions—and is gearing up for his third trip.

During his first year as part of Global Brigades, Robart went to northern Honduras as part of the Dental and Hygiene Brigade. The following year, he returned to the group and started the Water and Engineering Brigade.

“My first trip was a huge learning experience. Every week we had brigade meetings where we went through [the] curriculum and learned about Honduras’ history and culture. But it was a shock to me, even though I had been learning about it,” he said.

Partnering with Dalhousie University’s Global Brigades chapter, the traveling group consisted of 30 members.

During the second trip in August 2016, the chapter set up a mobile medical and health clinic in a rural community. “The clinic included triage, doctor consultations, a pharmacy, optometry stations, gynecology appointments as well as ‘charlas’ [or chats] regarding children’s education,”  Robart said.

The Global Brigades’ holistic approach to community development first sets a Dental and Medical Brigade, then a community bank is established by a Microfinance Brigade. A Water and Engineering Brigade, as well as Public Health Brigade, work with the community as a third step to building a sustainable water system and implement proper sanitation. Finally, a Business Brigade supports local businesses to start up and improve the local economy.

“I was really interested in the sustainability aspect of it—and for me, the water and engineering part was the most necessary, because water is essential to the community,” Robart said.

Co-chair – Prevail Laurent
Secretary/Treasurer – Daniel Hanscom
Logistics – Christopher Mackin
Water Brigade President – Eric Gates
Medical Dental Brigade President – Lua Samimi
Public Health Brigade Presidents – Megan Comeau & Jake Stillwell

Photos by Drew Robart.

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