Public Health Brigades (PHB) is a sub-organization of the student-run Global Brigades. Our goal is to reduce the risk of life-threatening diseases in underdeveloped communities in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Panama. PHB members aim to improve the overall infrastructure within these countries through the construction of four projects: eco-stoves, latrines, water storage units and concrete floors. By establishing these projects, we would create healthier, more sustainable living conditions.
I spent my 2015 spring break in Honduras, volunteering as a Public Health Brigader. Besides volunteering in another country, my favorite part of the experience was forming meaningful relationships with the families I had helped. Getting to know these families had deepened my understanding of how different cultures and communities deal with the diseases most common in their location. In some ways, the family I had worked with has helped me more than I have helped them, because through my interactions with them, I have become much more aware of how certain living conditions and different cultural lifestyles can impact the health (and the perception of health) of an entire community.
Since then, I have been eager to encourage other college students to go on the brigades and deepen their understanding of global health as I had. As the Social Chair of the Public Health Brigade team in Duke University, one of my main goals is to foster a sense of community among our members so that they feel welcome, ready to make a difference, and prepared to work with one another. One way I aim to foster this sense of community is by organizing volunteer events in our local community. Another way is by sharing stories from past brigade members. By interviewing other brigade members who have participated in the trips and writing up stories of their experiences, I hope to help future members get a better sense of what it feels like to carry out these projects in another country.