After traveling more than 2,000 miles from Whittier College to Honduras, 12 students from the College’s chapter of Global Medical Brigades boarded a bus that took them to Cordoncillo, a small rural community in this Central American country known for its rich natural resources, beautiful wildlife, and high poverty rate.
“Nearly 50 percent of people living in these rural communities live below the poverty line,” said club president Jasmin Cao ’19, a pre-med student majoring in Biological and Psychological Environmental Factors of Health through the Whittier Scholars Program. “Millions of people lack access to clean water and improved sanitation infrastructure.”
In May 2018, the Whittier brigade spent a week setting up free clinics, helping triage patients, taking vital signs, shadowing licensed doctors, and assisting pharmacists to fill prescriptions. Whittier students also provided public health education on vital topics such as understanding personal health, preventative care, and dental care. And, taking “hands-on” to the next level, the group helped build latrines for various homes, which provide sanitary and proper waste disposal.
“Over the course of seven days, we successfully treated over 800 patients, built latrines for six homes, handed out over 900 hygiene kits (which included toothbrushes, toothpastes, condoms, soap, shampoo, floss, and much more) and raised a total of over $15,000 for patients in Honduras,” said Cao.
Cao says she established the group on the Whittier campus because she wanted to provide students with the opportunity to travel abroad to help and provide healthcare to underserved communities. Her aim is for the group to thrive at Whittier and continue to serve disadvantaged communities every year. Next up, the group will travel to Panama.