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JDHS grad plans medical mission trip to Honduras

Posted: February 12, 2012 - 1:05am

This May, Pauline Zheng, daughter of Jie Zheng and Ling Li and a 2010 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, will be traveling to Central America with a group of 25 students from Grinnell College through an organization called Global Brigades.

Each year, Global Brigades mobilizes thousands of university students around the world to participate in nine different skills-based programs to improve the quality of life in under-resourced communities. Grinnell College has just established the first Global Medical Brigade chapter, with which Zheng will travel to Honduras.

Global Brigades is one of the world’s largest student-led health and sustainable development organizations dedicated to improving the water, sanitation, healthcare, and economic infrastructures to underserved rural countries.

Honduras is cited by the World Bank as the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti and Nicaragua and has been designated as a priority country by the Pan American Health organization/WHO Strategic Plan. The basic needs of education, health care, and clean water are luxuries for the majority of the people there, and in the rural communities where the group will be working, these luxuries are even harder to find. It is highly common for a family of four to live on less than $2 per day with less than three gallons of water per day available for use.

On the upcoming brigade, Zheng will be working hand-in-hand with doctors, a pharmacist and other community members. As students, they will be creating medical records, checking vitals, and helping distribute medicine under pharmacist and doctor supervision. Additionally, their group will conduct preliminary needs assessments and record data for quantitative reports to form a holistic model for sustainable health care in Honduras.

Global Medical Brigades develops health initiatives and provides relief where there is limited access to healthcare. Each year, more than 3,000 student volunteers and health professionals travel to Central America to establish mobile medical clinics in under-resourced communities. Each community with whom they partner receives a brigade every three to four months, in which hundreds of patients are treated, with volunteers delivering public health workshops. Between brigades, in-country teams maintain relationships with the communities to provide follow-up. In Honduras, their Community Health Worker program empowers local leaders to perpetuate a consistent level of health care.

“This trip is important to me because we are providing essential healthcare to a community and country that so desperately needs it. I feel passionate about raising awareness and gaining a more global perspective about poverty and needs of third world countries. Additionally, I strongly value helping others and it is important that I can have this opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the quality of living conditions in rural Honduras. We welcome any donations as providing medical supplies can be quite costly,” says Zheng.

Grinnell Global Brigades is currently recruiting doctors and dentists to accompany us while providing medical services and health education to a rural community. Interested parties may contact grinnellglobalbriages@grinnell.edu.

Those interested in supporting Zheng and her cause may donate at http://www.empowered.org/zhengpau. Other forms of donation may be sent to 8520 Forest Ln. Juneau, AK 99801. Checks must be made out to “Global Brigades, Inc.” with the memo line: “Pauline Zheng, Grinnell College, Global Medical Brigades.”

For more information, visit globalbrigades.org

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