Fall 2016 Member Spotlights

Lucy Chin

Hometown: Bethesda, MD

Year: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s): Anthropology (GHE) and AMCS double major, with a minor in Art History.

What were you doing this summer?

Civic Scholars project, which included supporting a social justice education camp called AnyTown and helping with research at a think tank called the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce!!

Why do you love GlobeMed?

I love GlobeMed for all the reasons...!! but mostly right now, I love GlobeMed because of the amazing community and new perspectives that it encourages me to consider, as well as the holistic way we tackle problems.

What is your spirit vegetable/fruit and why?

Sweet potatoes because they are amazing.

Rachel Lowen

Hometown: Boca Raton, FL

Year: Junior

Major(s)/Minor(s): GHE and Healthcare Management majors, with a French minor

What were you doing this summer?

I worked at a consulting company called The Kannico Agency whose clients are entirely non profit organizations. Kannico helps non profits get started from scratch in addition to working with well established non profits who need help with funding, grant writing, board of directors, improving their mission statement, and everything in between. I also interned part time at Delray Medical Center on a project to improve patient satisfaction. I learned a great amount about the inner workings of a hospital and the many people who Impact each patient. 

Why do you love GlobeMed?

I love GlobeMed because of the people. I love coming together every Wednesday night for chapter to have meaningful conversations about global health all while laughing and having a great time. Some of my favorite people at WashU are people I have met through GlobeMed. 

What is your spirit vegetable/fruit and why?

Mango because it is yellow, which has been my favorite color since I turned one. Mango is also amazing, and delicious, and also my favorite fruit. 

Poorva Jain

Hometown: Saratoga, CA

Year: Junior

Major(s)/Minor(s): Biology

What were you doing this summer?

I did research here at a neuroscience lab on campus and then at nights I would work at a non profit called the International Institute where I worked with immigrants and refugees to help them become citizens. I also went through RA training.

Why do you love GlobeMed?

It keeps me grounded. It gives me an outlet to actually do work in public health and have conversations with people that I find meaningful and go beyond the simple small talk. 

What is your spirit vegetable/fruit and why?


Sophie Abo

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Year: Sophomore

Major(s)/Minor(s): hmmm we shall see (maybe global health and environment? or environmental biology?) 

What were you doing this summer?

Took organic chemistry and traveled to Greece!

Why do you love GlobeMed?

All the wonderful GlobeMed people!

What is your spirit vegetable/fruit and why?

A purple carrot :) 

Ani Gururaj

Hometown: Chesterfield, MO

Year: Sophomore

Major(s)/Minor(s): Chemistry and Anthropology

What were you doing this summer?

Interning at Partners at Partners in Healt.

Why do you love GlobeMed?

The people, and our commitment to fight global health inequality.

What is your spirit vegetable/fruit and why?

Strawberry because they are sweet.

Hayley Wolf

Hometown: Woodbury, NY

Year: Junior

Major(s)/Minor(s): Global Health and the Environment major with minors in Italian and Political Science

What were you doing this summer?

Interning for a medical nonprofit called Saving Mothers! It's been such an amazing experience to work alongside medical professionals running a nonprofit organization. They are dedicated to eradicating unnecessary maternal deaths and promoting family planning methods in Kenya, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic.

Why do you love GlobeMed?

I love GlobeMed because I am always learning new things alongside a group of amazing, dedicated, and interested students.

What is your spirit vegetable/fruit and why?

I would be a clementine because they're cute and who doesn't like a clementine?!             (Honestly I have no clue)

Urvi Sinha

Hometown: Pineville, NC

Year: Junior

Major(s)/Minor(s): Global Health & Environment, Biochemistry

What were you doing this summer?

This summer I worked at the Chalker Lab at WashU as part of BioSURF, studying gene silencing in Tetrahymena.

Why do you love GlobeMed?

I love GlobeMed because it combines my passions for social justice and healthcare by seeking to promote health in a sustainable, respectful and equitable way.

What is your spirit vegetable/fruit and why?

Celery. I don't know why, but it just feels right.


A Farewell to Naigobya


A Farewell to Naigobya

By Ryan Speese

Hello everybody! Ryan here. Today is our last day here in Naigobya so this blog post is a little bittersweet. But before I explain what we’ve been up to during the week, here’s a recap of what we did over the weekend. Last Thursday, half of the team left for safari while the rest of us made plans to go explore two of the major cities in Uganda. Mikayla, Ananya, and I first went to Jinja to go kayaking. Sounds relaxing, right? Little did we know that the kayaking company was located miles out of town in a very rural area. So after about an hour and a half of navigating with our phones and trying to use our broken Lusoga to ask for directions we finally arrived to a beautiful campsite/hotel. It was clearly marketed towards Mzungu’s (the Lusoga word for foreigners) given the Green Day that was blasting over the speakers and the lemonade and grilled cheese being offered on the restaurant menu. The view of Lake Victoria was absolutely breathtaking and made me even more excited to be there.

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     The view of Lake Victoria from the campsite.

The view of Lake Victoria from the campsite.

Despite mistaking a nearby swimmer for an angry crocodile coming to kill us, we had a lovely time circling Lake Victoria in our kayaks. After deciding that we were hungry and definitely needed to work on our arm strength, we called it quits on the kayaks and headed to town for lunch and shopping for souvenirs. The next day we headed to Kampala (the country’s capital city) to visit the Acacia Mall and the Gaddafi National Mosque. Being in Kampala was a major shock to the system after spending the past month and a half in a village of less than 500 people. The sidewalks were buzzing with people and the streets were overflowing with cars, taxis, motorcycles, and more people. Acacia mall was especially strange because it felt as if we had returned to America. There was a KFC restaurant that greeted us as we entered the sliding glass doors and a café selling chai lattes to our right. I think all of us felt both excited and terrified while browsing the all purpose store (think Walmart) and finding ourselves in the food court on the top level of the mall. After we ate, we went to the mosque and got a tour where we learned about the construction of the mosque, the history behind its inception, and a bit about the Muslim religion.

After a fun-filled weekend that was both relaxing and tiring, we spent Sunday evening waiting for the safari-goers to come back so that we could hear about their adventure. Monday morning, all six of the GROW team members sat down with Michael to discuss the PAF (Partnership Action Framework) to make sure that GlobeMed and UDHA are on the same page for the future vision of our partnership. It was really inspiring to see, firsthand, how the partnership worked so symbiotically and to hear about the future plans to make our projects more sustainable.

Later that week, Ananya and I headed to Naigobya for the last time of the summer. We spent the first three days collecting data for an evaluation of the project. All throughout the summer, we have heard how much the project has helped people living in the village but we wanted to gather data to support this sentiment so we developed tools for qualitative and quantitative data collection so that a formal evaluation of the Nutrition Project could be conducted. We got to speak directly with people in Naigobya about topics like breastfeeding, malnourishment in children, and proper nutrition during pregnancy and hear about their views on the subjects. We also surveyed households about how many children they had and whether those children had ever been diagnosed as malnourished.

Rachel, a fellow UDHA intern, surveying a woman about her nutrition practices.

Rachel, a fellow UDHA intern, surveying a woman about her nutrition practices.

Hearing the community members discuss how much they have learned from the Community Health Workers (CHW’s for short) reminded me of why I was so passionate about joining GlobeMed in the first place and why I decided to apply for the GROW internship. We hope that the evaluation will continue to be conducted in all 7 villages that UDHA works in and that the information can be used to make any necessary changes to the program implementation.

After we collected data from Naigobya, it was time to begin the CHW refresher training. The CHW’s are members of the communities that UDHA works in that have been elected to this position by their peers. They attend an initial training that teaches them all about the importance of breastfeeding, proper nutrition for infants and pregnant women, and home gardening. The goal is for all of these CHW’s to return to their communities with the knowledge that they’ve gained from UDHA, then teach and empower the community to begin eating nutritiously and ultimately eliminate the devastating issue of malnutrition. As Moses, one of the leaders of the Nutrition Project, put it on the first day of work, the problem of malnutrition is not necessarily that there isn’t enough food or land to grow crops in the villages but that people don’t have the necessary knowledge or habits to eat healthfully. The CHW’s are UDHA’s answer to this fundamental problem.

It was so incredible to get to see all of the CHW’s (many of whom we had already visited at their homes) together at once. It was like a physical symbol of the impact that UDHA has already had and will continue to have in the future. They were all smiles and hugs and bellowing laughs as they stood together and chatted in Lusoga.

As part of the training, they went over what a proper food demonstration should be like and they made sure to include us for every step along the way. I peeled potatoes, washed them, chopped vegetables, ground nuts, and even helped build the fire. It was so much fun but so incredible difficult to execute which made me gain even more respect for the work being done by these amazing people. They were very welcoming to Ananya and I and even brought us gifts. And when I say “they” and “gifts,” I mean each and every one of the CHW’s gave us some delicious-looking fruit, vegetable, or grain to take back to America with us. It was such a generous surprise!

Overall, our last week in Naigobya was productive, enlightening, and inspiring. I am so grateful that I was able to experience another culture and expand my understanding of public health. Now, we just have to pack and be sure to catch our flight. It won’t be long before we are back home and able to see our family and friends and recount this awesome adventure to them.

-  Ryan


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Blog By I, Quinten George Dicken

By Quinten Dicken

Lions, and elephants, and hippos, OH MY! For the weekend of 7/15-7/17 Akash, Shivani, and I went on a safari to Murchison Falls, the oldest and largest national park in Uganda. Unfortunately, the other half of the team couldn’t come because they are scared of animals.

During the safari, I got to experience nature and wildlife like I have never experienced before. We first drove to Kampala on Thursday night and stayed at a hotel. The next morning we departed for Murchison Falls, which was a seven hour drive. When we got to the national park, the first activity we did was hike around the falls itself, which was beautiful and majestic, and after the hike, we headed to our campsite which was very cool. We all got to sleep in tents, and I originally was going to share a tent with Akash.  However, another girl that came with us was a little baby and was too afraid to sleep by herself. So I switched spots with her and got a tent for myself. There was also an interestingly large amount of people from Ireland at the campsite so we got to listen to Irish campfire songs during the night.

The next morning, we left for our game drive at 6:30 am. We had to cross the Nile on a ferry to reach the area that the animals are in. Unfortunately, some people in our group were late so we weren’t able to make the first ferry of the day and lost some time. The game drive itself was amazing though. We saw giraffes, elephants, wildebeests, hippos, lions and everything else you could think of, even penguins. I had never seen such amazing creatures in my life before. Being able to sit on top of our safari van and see all the animals was incredible. Later that day, we went on a boat tour of the falls on the Nile. We saw many more animals including a copious amount of hippos and water buffalo. My favorite part was seeing all the pretty birds. We even got to see some crocodiles for a hot sec but they dove under the water quickly.

On our final day of the safari we went on another game drive at 6:30 am. It was just as incredible as the previous day and we got to see a stunningly massive number of elephants as they walked around our safari van. Akash was scared of the large number of elephants but I was there to hold him tight and comfort his poor soul. After our game drive we drove to Kampala and from there drove back to Iganga. The entire day consisted of ten hours of driving and we were all exhausted when we returned.

Admittedly, having to return to work at the UDHA office the next was difficult after such a fun excursion, but alas, our Peer Health Educator training was imminent and work needed to be done. Going into the week, it was unclear when the training was going to start due to problems in getting the finances approved. Since we have had problems with transferring our main funds to UDHA, we have had to use money that Akash’s brother has directly donated to UDHA to fund our immediate needs such as the PHE training. However, there have also been problems with receiving those funds. A lot of red tape and bureaucracy had to be navigated throughout the week to finally have the money be approved to be used for the training. Because of that, we were unable to start the training until Saturday (7/22). Throughout the week we had a lot to do such as preparing the sections we each were going to teach during the training and do other preparations such as putting together paperwork and tests to be administered during the training.

The first couple days of the PHE training have gone great. Even though we have to do the training through the weekend, the training is well worth it. So far, we have taught about male and female reproductive systems, menstruation, safe sex, healthy relationships, and sexual violence. Today I just presented my sections on STIs and HIV/AIDS. The PHEs are very curious about things and ask many questions, which is good to ensure they have complete understandings. The different myths and beliefs the PHEs have heard from others are all very interesting. There are many rumors about the origin of HIV and theories that there is a cure for HIV being withheld. I’ve learned about such beliefs in classes and it was interesting hearing these rumors in real life.

Overall, the PHEs are engaged and the trainings are being effective in imparting knowledge into them. I am confident that the rest of the training will go well and the PHEs will be appropriately prepared to spread their knowledge to their schools.

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An Update from the Naigobya Team

By Ananya Benegal

This week was a pretty eventful one! Wednesday was Eid, the celebration that occurs at the end of Ramadan.  There is a significant Muslim population here, so it was a public holiday and the festivities were everywhere.  Ruth, one of Dr. Parikh’s research assistants, was kind enough to invite us to a celebration at her home. 

There was a delicious dinner of traditional Ugandan food, then an evening of singing, dancing, and playing with the 20 children whom she cares for, which was exhausting but so much fun.  We were so grateful to be able to enjoy that incredible experience with her and her family.

Finally, on Thursday, we were able to return to Naigobya at long last!! It’s been nearly three weeks since we’ve been here, between the islands, our being sick, and the public holiday, so I’m very excited to be back.  It was especially nice because the Iganga team joined us today in our activities, so they also got to experience a little bit of the Nutrition Project.  We visited the homes of four Community Health Workers, or CHWs, to check in on their progress and learn more about the challenges that they face.  The CHWs are all people nominated by the members of their community to take part in the project. They are trained by UDHA and are responsible for promoting nutrition and wellness in their communities through food demonstrations, monitoring of pregnant mothers and infants, and other activities.  Part of their role is to maintain model gardens, in which they generally grow several different types of starches, fruits, and vegetables, which cover many of the requisite nutrients. 

These gardens serve as not only a source of food, but an example through which they can share the knowledge and expertise so that others can grow their own gardens as well. Being a CHW is completely voluntary, and it was inspiring to hear from people who are so dedicated to their community.

We wrapped up our week on Friday with a presentation at Naigobya Primary School about sanitation.  In the past we have presented there and at two other local schools about other topics such as menstruation and personal hygiene.  This presentation included a hands-on section, where the students built a tip-tap outside of their latrines so that they can wash their hands after using the bathroom.  It is a mechanism made out of simple everyday items; a gerrycan, sticks, and string.

They used the sticks as a frame from which they hung the gerrycan with the string, and set it up so that stepping on the string with your foot tips the can and pours the water, thus the name.  It really cool to see them put in place a practical implementation of the material that we covered in the classroom section of the presentation. 

Overall, we had a great week and while I definitely do miss Iganga and the rest of the team, I’m grateful to be back at it in Naigobya!


Storytime: Shivani and Mikayla Almost get Arrested by the Sigulu Island Sub-County Police


Storytime: Shivani and Mikayla Almost get Arrested by the Sigulu Island Sub-County Police

By Mikayla Frye

The time was 5:30 pm.  I was squished on a boda (motorcycle taxi) between the driver and Sumaiyah, my hands weighed down with our luggage.  We were finally leaving the Sigulu Island Sub-County Hall after a long day of traveling and training peer educators on the topic of HIV/AIDS.  I looked back at Shivani; she, too, was squished between the boda driver and Martha, her face a mix of the exhaustion of the day and the exhilaration of finally taking our first boda ride.  We took off.  I was just getting comfortable when I heard a loud and booming “STOP!” 

The bodas grinded to a halt and Sumaiyah let out an exasperated sigh behind me.

“This guy won’t leave us alone!  He wants to see your passports but I keep telling him he doesn’t need to see them.”

I was extremely exhausted from the day.  The GROW team woke up at 4:30 that Tuesday morning to get ready for our trip to the Islands.  At 5:00am, we loaded into the UDHA van and drove two hours to the landing site, where we waited for a bit then loaded our stuff into boats and took off.  At 10:40 that morning Shivani, Sumaiyah, the facilitators (Martha and Fred), and I were dropped off at Sigulu Island, ready to start the 5-day HIV/AIDS training.  After the busy day, all I wanted to do was go to our lodge and fall asleep but, unfortunately, that didn’t seem like it was going to happen for a while.

Sumaiyah and Martha both hopped off the bodas and followed the tall and irritating man into the Sigulu Sub-County Police station – a small, round building constructed of thin metal, situated adjacent to the sub-county hall.  Shivani and I remained on the bodas confused and annoyed.  We gave each other a perplexed look and sighed deeply. 

Iwe! Iwe!  You two! You come, too!” A police officer shouted with a smile.  He was younger and friendlier than the first man, dressed in a blue camouflage police uniform.  Shivani and I hopped off (well, more like fell off) the bodas and lugged our backpacks with us as we sauntered to the police station.  The friendly man escorted us in and we took seats in plastic chairs next to Martha, Sumaiyah, and Fred.

The tall man cleared his throat, took a seat, and looked us all in the eye.  “You are welcome,” he said.

“Thank you,” we all replied, trying not to sound too annoyed.

“Yes, I am the chief detective of the Sigulu Island Sub-County.  We have brought you all here because we were not aware that mzungus (foreigners) would be working on this Island,” he turned to look first at Shivani, and then at me.  “Can I see your passports and visas?”

Shivani and I gave each other a long, nervous look.

“We don’t have our passports on us,” I eventually said.

“And why not?”

“Because we were told when we first got to Iganga, where we are staying, to lock our passports in our hotel room so they would be safe.”  I responded.

“Yes, that is what they were told,” Sumaiyah jumped in.  “Ssebo, if I was aware that they needed their travel documents, I would have told them to bring them.”

“Hmmm…okay,” the chief detective paused.  He looked at me, and then at Shivani.  “Or maybe the reason you did not bring them is because your visas are expired and you did not want us to find out!”

Bewildered and wide-eyed, Shivani and I glanced at each other and started speaking at the same time.

“No no no no no no, it’s not like that.  We locked them in our hotel room because our boss told us to!”

I looked at Sumaiyah.  Her blank expression and uncharacteristic quietness meant she was fuming on the inside.  A heavy silence hung in the air.

Ssebo, these girls are working with me for two months at Uganda Development and Health Associates.  I already introduced them to the Iganga police, so they know they are here.  The training here on Sigulu Island has been set up for weeks – you should have known we were coming,” Sumaiyah said in a low and annoyed voice.

“I was not aware,” he replied.

“We talked to the District Health Official.  She knew we were coming.  We have been planning with her.”

“And did the mzungus have permission, too?  This is an Island – we have different rules here than on the mainland.”  He shifted his attention to Shivani and I.  “The problem is that you people from the US and UK expect get special treatment when you come here.  The locals see you and will cater to you.  You don’t even worry about carrying your passport.  When one of us is in your country, we can be stopped at any time and asked to leave if we do not show identification!”

Shame and guilt suddenly overcame me.  I shifted my eyes to the floor and mumbled an agreement.  He was not wrong in what he was saying – it is true we get special treatment here in Uganda, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us. 

“You know,” he continued, “I could have you arrested right now and you wouldn’t have any identification on you.  How would your people know what happened to you?  How would we know who you are?”

“You wouldn’t,” Shivani and I whispered in response.  The mention of “arrest” scared us.

I think the Chief Detective noticed a change in our attitudes, because his attention swiftly focused to our well-being and safety as the main reason for his intervention.

“You know, it can be dangerous for mzungus here.  Do you know where you are staying?  It is full of drunkards!”

“Yes!  It can be unsafe!” The nice, smiling man chimed in.

“You must be careful!”  The Chief Detective stood up now and the smiling man and another officer followed his lead.

Before we knew it, all at once the three of them were shouting various safety tips at us.

“The people here will see you and think you have a lot of money and will try to take from you!”

“Make sure to lock your doors!”

“You need a security escort!”

“Check under your beds before you leave and again when you get back!  People like to hide there!”

It was that last comment that really did it.  Shivani and I looked at each other and started to laugh.  The time was incredibly inappropriate, but the overwhelming ridiculousness of the situation finally got to us.  We tried to compose ourselves before we made the situation any worse.  Shivani was having better luck than I was.  I could not stop giggling.  I was just so unbelieving of what was happening to us.  The Chief Detective kept talking, but at this point I wasn’t paying attention.  A paper went around to get our contact information and we finally formally introduced ourselves.  The meeting was coming to an end.

Before we got up and left, the Chief Detective said “Don’t be surprised if when you come tomorrow, there is a boat waiting for you.”

We all nodded, said thank-you, and left. 

After the incident, Sumaiyah reassured Shivani and I that the police knew we were coming, and were just trying to scare us into giving them money.  She told us that whenever people here see Americans, they assume we have a lot of money we can just give away, only she knows we are students who don’t have too much to give.  Even so, what the police chief had said about us getting special treatment was not wrong at all.  Our perceived whiteness (even though neither of us identify as white) immediately elevates us to the top of an uncomfortable racial hierarchy.  For the whole time we have been here, I (and the rest of the GROW team, I assume) have been trying to balance behaving and interacting with the locals, and the UDHA staff in particular, in a way that does not perpetuate the centuries of western imposition, colonialism and racism but also allows us to assert ourselves when we think we need to.  It is important to recognize the privilege we have -- and the history behind that privilege -- but it is also important to not let that knowledge immobilize us, especially when it pertains to the work we do with UDHA.  We must remember that our partnership with UDHA is a partnership based on the two-way street of cross-cultural exchange.

HIV/AIDS testing awareness advertisement seen on the side of a local shop on Sigulu Island.

HIV/AIDS testing awareness advertisement seen on the side of a local shop on Sigulu Island.

Thanks for reading through!



Moments in Iganga


Moments in Iganga

By Shivani Desai

Trigger Warning: The organization we work with has projects focusing on sexual health, including sexual violence and abuse. Due to this, some of this blog post contains content regarding such issues.

Hi everyone! I’m new to this whole blogging thing, but here’s a look at what life in Iganga has been in the last three weeks:

Every morning at 7:55, I run out of my room, convinced that I’m holding up my team, only to see Quinten clutching a fork and knife in both hands, impatiently awaiting his eggs - which gives me time for coffee (yes!). After several threats of being left, countless pointed looks at the watch, scalding hot coffee poured down my throat, and the lovely spectacle of Quinten downing his breakfast in three bites, we set off on our daily commute and beautiful walk through Iganga.

Accurate depiction of Quinten at breakfast


A glaring sun shines down, it’s rays creating a sort of hazy glow that covers everything - the rust red endless paths, the lush green leaves that sway slightly in the wind, the soccer and volleyball field we pass each day, the rooster strutting around as if it owns the street, the painting of the smiling lion that signifies a primary school, the chaotic main street with nonsensical criss-cross patterns of traffic -buses blaring music, travel vans to Kampala, boda bodas, and bicycles whizzing by- that pose a Risk! situation each time we must cross, Yazid’s Cakes and Snacks where we invariably stop each day, the murals depicting safe sex education, and the blue and white building of Mercy Hospital, from which UDHA stands right across.

~views~ of Iganga on the walk to and from UDHA

In these last three weeks, I’ve fallen in love with UDHA - the organization, the people, and the mission. I’m working on the Iganga Team, meaning I have the opportunity to work with the Youth Resource Center (YRC) on sex education initiatives. The project seeks to partner with primary and secondary schools, focusing on an internal empowerment model in which the YRC team finds patrons and peer health educators within each school who are trained by UDHA and then carry the education and messages to their own schools. Through this model, the YRC trains students to take ownership of the well-being of themselves and their peers. At UDHA, we also work on data collection and health box questions. Essentially, the peer health educators collect notes on the most frequent or difficult to answer questions and transfer them to UDHA. The YRC also places question boxes in each school, where students can place confidential questions regarding sexual and reproductive health. These questions range from adorably hilarious - an earnestly penned question about true love, to heavily serious - questions regarding what to do following a sexual assault. It is extremely fulfilling to be working on these issues, as they serve to be critical and pervasive topics in all local communities, whether it is here in Iganga, or at home, in St. Louis.

An overarching theme in this experience is my positionality and the lessons and complexities it brings to everyday interactions, work experience, and global health understandings. As a western outsider entering a new community, working and living in Iganga for two months, I am constantly reconciling and evaluating my perspective, biases, cultural approaches, and privilege. Whenever we speak with new individuals, they thank us for coming to Uganda, but in reality the immense gratitude and appreciation I feel for being welcomed and for having the opportunity to cross-culturally learn about approaches to universal health and gender issues cannot be overemphasized. I understand through practice that to be a partner in sustainability and health means humbling yourself and acknowledging that you have everything to learn, keeping an open mind and listening ear, and recognizing that change isn’t effective unless it is internally led, as the work of UDHA -founded by and for Ugandans- is. To play even a small role in this work is an enormous honor.

As is true for most formative and new experiences, it is impossible to encapsulate every moment - in their beauty, novelty, thought-provoking-ness, and challenge- into one blog post. Instead, I’d like to highlight a few of the moments which resonated most with me this past week:

Thursday: We are sitting in the office, relaxing in transitional time, having just finished one of our tasks. We chat with our internship coordinator, boss, and dear friend, Sumaiyah, who begins speaking about some of the difficult realities facing women and children, including sexual violence and abuse. As we know, this reality is not inherent to Iganga, but exists in every community in the world. Sumaiyah speaks openly and intensely about how some of the kids face barriers in telling a trusted source of information and support, instead being forced to stay silent. She also talks about the connection she sees between sex education and sexual violence, detailing how if students are given the language to speak about sex, and the tools to assert their rights, agency, and safety, she believes she can help them gain comfort, find resources, and speak out through peer education and confidential health box questions if facing abuse or violence: “They [some of the students] can’t talk to their parents, they can’t talk to their guardians, but some - some talk through these letters.” The passion for her work in combatting such harm and oppression is apparent in her voice, and this conversation breaks my heart, deeply challenges me, and fuels my own passion for the work we do at UDHA and the work I hope to engage in - both this summer and for my lifetime in any community. It also reminds me that in the United States, sex education is rarely coupled with information involving consent and gender-based violence, instead riddled with pathetically un-comprehensive lesson plans filled with slut-shaming, scary pictures of STIs, and abstinence pledge forms. As UDHAs model upholds, I believe information regarding sexual violence must be an integral part of a comprehensive, equitable, and compassionate sex education program.

Friday: Today is the goodbye meeting for the peer health educators who have been working and volunteering for the benefit of their schools for the past few years. The PHE’s range from about 16-20, and all of them are deeply driven to help improve their school communities. The students speak with us about how they help teach others about safe sex (including HIV, sexually-transmitted infections, and pregnancy prevention), hygiene, menstruation, consent, healthy relationships, biological and bodily changes, life skills, and more, outlining the biggest successes and challenges they have faced while working. One of the students speaks about the change he has seen in his school since working with UDHA, “There were many challenges and students didn’t know how to solve problems, but with the presence of UDHA, everything has changed. Now the students have changed;” another speaks about how much he loves this work, and another urges her peers to “not let what was done here, end here.” Not only are the peer educators excellent students, they are also committed volunteers who are well-trusted authorities on health matters by their friends and peers at school. They are also incredibly civic-minded, encouraging each other to bring this education and change to every community they enter. From my discussions with the students, it truly seems as though the year-round work UDHA engages in  uplifts whole schools and individuals, helping to empower sustainable school partnerships and leaders within the community.

Generally, in my first three weeks in Iganga, the point I’ve found most noteworthy is the open and welcoming nature of everyone, both in respect to making visitors feel at home and in regards to embracing community-driven strives for better health, change, and progress. The phrase I’ve heard most often are “You are welcome.” This phrase has been uttered both by individuals welcoming us to their beautiful home city and country, and by headmistresses/ masters of schools, as UDHA joins with them in partnership to work on sexual and reproductive health. Due to the fact that our project speaks openly and often about sex, I expected for their to be more pushback by schools due to conservative ideas of what should and shouldn’t be taught to children that I’ve experienced back home, as the issue of sex education is entirely politicized and villainized in the US. This has not been the case at all. In fact, when we tell school administrators that we are working on sex education, their eyes light up, and they tell us how much the children and young people need information in this realm (in sixteen schools that we’ve approached, only one has seemed weary of the material we teach). The general sentiment I’ve come to find can be wrapped up in a statement made by the headmaster of one secondary school: “If it will give my students information they need, then yes, you are welcome.” This receptivity and commitment to creating stronger and healthier communities also extends itself to the entire town and the streets I walk when going to work, the market, Leoz (the best Indian restaurant in the world), and home, in the form of public posters and murals that pop up everywhere. These murals (created by Ugandan organizations, international partnerships, and a local artist) contain messages regarding safe sex practices that work for the prevention of HIV and STI transmission, as well as family planning messages. This embracing and welcoming nature is amazing to experience, and I believe that this openness truly allows for greater strides and improvements to be made for the health and well-being of one’s community and home.


If you actually got to the end of this insanely long post, thanks for sticking with me!

In Solidarity and GlobeMed Love,



Oli Otya! Hello from GROW Team 2016!


Oli Otya! Hello from GROW Team 2016!

This was the market area! I have never seen so many vegetables in one area at one time :O

This was the market area! I have never seen so many vegetables in one area at one time :O

By Akash Oza

Hi everyone! This is the first GROW team post for our internship and I am really excited to share with you what we have been doing! We landed in Uganda this past Tuesday around 9 PM and then had about a 3 hour car ride to get back to our hotel, the Fort Lugard. It seems that Uganda is never asleep because even late at night, I could still see people on the side of the road walking, as we drove to our hotel. After a late night, we woke up the next morning. The next day Sumaiyah picked us up and we went around Iganga and bought some supplies and got lunch at Victoria’s restaurant. I got a mixed plate with matokeposhododomboli, and muchere, or in other words, plantains, maize, greens, sweet potato and rice, respectively. My personal favorite was dodo (like I ended up eating the whole plate, they are really good). Then, we finally got to see UDHA (picture below). Walking up to UDHA was a very strange feeling. Over my time in GlobeMed, we always mention UDHA, especially when fundraising. To be here though, everything we do as a chapter became so much more tangible. In other words, every finals gift basket we sold was equated to supplies that UDHA could use to help conduct a school outreach or do a cooking session. Honestly, I felt so engrossed in the brotherhood while there.

The next day, we spent the whole day learning Lusoga! Sumaiyah was a very thorough teacher, and we learned everything from greetings to office supplies to numbers! We also finally got to see Rory (yay!!!). The day after we went through the budget and saw specifically to what our fundraising goes to. Even though, I was a little sick through the meeting, again seeing that all of the money we raise and how it is converted into something real was eye opening. On our first weekend, we spent our Saturday at the market! Rory met up with us, and we all went to Endiro Café, a coffee shop that is really popular with expats. Afterwards, we all went shopping around the market area and got the Naigobya team vegetables because they left us Monday!

Overall, this week was us just getting used to Iganga and finding our way around (I don’t know if I really still know the way to UDHA but more to come on that)! That’s it for me! Hope you all are great!




A View Into UDHA's Work

Watch this video to get a closer look at some of the projects that Uganda Development and Health Associates does! Although GlobeMed at Washington University in St. Louis does not work directly with this project, it exemplifies the high quality work that UDHA exhibits in all of their initiatives. You'll also meet Nakaziba Sumaiyah (featured in the photo at the top of this page) who is the Youth Resource Coordinator at UDHA and works directly with our GROW interns every summer!



Updates from GlobeMed

Hello, everyone! 

Our most recent newsletter is now ready for you to read here! 

Included in the newsletter is information about our most recent and very successful Public Health Banquet, the campaigns we've been running, and a message from our partner organization, UDHA. We've also welcomed a brand new member class into our chapter, and we can't wait to see all that they accomplish! 

We hope you enjoy! 



ghU: Food Deserts and Community Gardens

A reflection on the past week's discussion by Ananya Benegal.  

This week in ghU we discussed food insecurity and community gardens. 

We began by familiarizing ourselves with the terminology.  Food insecurity, we learned, is the lack of reliable access to affordable and nutritious foods; regions that face this problem are called food deserts.  ghU explained that there is much more to food insecurity than simply not getting enough food.  There are several components to why an individual or a region may not be getting the nutrition they need, and these can work on a large scale, systematic level. 

We also explored the explored food insecurity in varying scopes, from global to local.  Though it does not necessarily take into account each component, undernutrition is the most common measure of global food insecurity.  In the US, one way to generally quantify the data is by how far one has to travel to get to a supermarket. 

Food insecurity is a large issue in our very own community of St. Louis.  For example, in the Normandy School District, there are only two discount grocery stores.  Many people have to travel well over a mile to have access to fresh food.

Community gardens are a great way to help alleviate some of these problems.  Not only have community gardens been shown to reduce food insecurity, they have been linked to other benefits, such as fostering stronger family relationships and encouraging a greater knowledge of balanced diets in children and teenagers.

It was brought up in discussion that there are also mental health benefits associated with gardening in general.  Additionally, we discussed food insecurity in the context of UDHA and Naigobiya. For example, the source of protein in diet often comes from livestock.  However, in the region, it is common to hold on to livestock as a symbol of status, so the main source of protein is removed from the diet.  How climate might affect food security and how that might change based on the seasons of the year was mentioned brought up as well. 

We had the privilege of hearing from Becky, a Healthy Community Coordinator at Beyond Housing, an organization with whom we have recently begun a partnership.  She talked about the 24:1 Initiative, a group of 24 municipalities within the Normandy School District united by a common vision of “Strong Communities, Engaged Families, and Successful Children”.  Becky mentioned how all aspects of one’s life impact health, but in particular stressed the importance of obesity reduction.  Beyond Housing has several ongoing programs and projects to combat obesity in the community.  For example, this coming Saturday, October 10, they are holding a tour to teach community members how to buy healthy foods on a budget.  They also host cooking classes that emphasize nutrition.

Overall, it was amazing for us to see a concrete example of the concepts we discussed in ghU being applied right here in St. Louis.  We truly appreciate Becky coming to speak to us tonight.  We are thrilled to be working with Beyond Housing and cannot wait to learn more!   



ghU: The Candidates and the Affordable Care Act

A reflection on this week's ghU by Marina Mai: 

This week in ghU, we talked about The Affordable Care Act. We learned that so far under the ACA, uninsured rates have dropped from 17.3% in 2013 to 11.7% in 2015. Costs are being curbed to cost 11% less than originally expected. Additionally, the Supreme Court Case King v. Brunwell in June of 2015 established that undoing the ACA would require an act of Congress rather than just the next President's executive order.

Next we went over the 2016 Presidential candidates' stance on healthcare. Representing the Democrats, Hillary Clinton supports the ACA but opposes single-payer healthcare. She presented a plan to decrease the cost of prescription medication. Bernie Sanders supports the ACA and is in favor of a single payer system. He introduced prescription drug affordability legislation which has not been discussed as of yet. Representing the Republicans, Donald Trump is against the ACA with its high deductibles and lack of choice. He would prefer to give states the authority. Interestingly enough, in his autobiography of 2000, he was in favor of universal healthcare and the single payer system. Next, Ben Carson is against the ACA for its restriction. He proposed an independent health savings account that would start from birth. Questions came up as to how this would address pre-existing conditions or congenital birth defects for example. Lastly, Jeb Bush is against the ACA, advocating instead for a system focused on quality. He claims the ACA focuses on access rather than quality and is financed unsustainably.

In our discussions, we looked at these systems of healthcare in our free-market economy and within the context that health is a human right. One group was interested to know more about Ben Carson's health savings account and how that would be feasible logistically. Another group shared out that the rhetoric of choice and individualism in America has greatly influenced our healthcare system as opposed to those in Europe for example. 

GhU then presented the timeline for reform under the ACA. These include: By 2015 doctors will be paid for quality not quantity of care (incentivizing doctors to spend more time with Medicaid patients) and that employers with over 50 full-time employees must offer health insurance. By 2018, the 40% tax on Cadillac health care plans will begin. By 2020, there should be no more gaps in the Medicare prescription drug plan (the doughnut hole). In our group discussions, our group discussed how the 40% tax on Cadillac health care might in fact be entrenching our healthcare deeper into the capitalist healthcare model in the way that it mirrors income tax. 

With the announcement that the presidential debates will be held at WashU, this ghU was a great starting point to staying informed about the platforms of our candidates. It was a good reminder that healthcare intersects with many other issues and a candidate's healthcare platform is often an indicator of views on other policies. 

Check out these links for more information on the topic. 

Comparative look at US health system

Affordable Care Act


10 things to know

Pros and Cons

Reform timeline (11 year plan extending to 2022)



ghU: Traditional Medicine

A reflection on our past GHU discussion by Tommy Kim: 

This week in Globe Med we discussed the differences between various types of medicine. Alternative medicine differs from a nation’s normal way of treatment. This obviously can include a wide range of treatment such as yoga, medicinal herbs, etc.  Traditional medicine, according to WHO, is the “sum total of knowledge, skills, and practices based on theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures whether explicable or not”. Lastly, integrative medicine is a combination of conventional and alternative medicine.

WHO has an interesting stance on traditional medicine. Recently, WHO released the “WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy for 2014-2023, a report that outlines specific goals for the next decade. WHO acknowledges that traditional medicine is the most widely practiced form of medicine worldwide. Thus in order to improve medicine around the world, improvement of traditional medicine should be the focus. WHO wishes to improve traditional medicine by “promoting safe and effective use” through “regulation, research and integration”. The link to the full report can be found at the bottom of this post. 

Recently, traditional medicine has become more of a presence in the United States. The Cleveland Clinic has instituted a Chinese herbal therapy center inside its hospital. Patients can pay to get Chinese herbs in addition to conventional medicine. However, the herbal therapy is not covered by insurance and prices can start from $100.

I have actually been exposed to traditional medicine before. After my third sprained ankle within a year my mom took me to a Korean/Chinese traditional medicine center. There I drank this bitter brown juice made of herbs to keep the swelling down. I also had acupuncture done to relieve the tendons. Personally, none of it actually worked but other people may have had better outcomes. 

One of the slides from the GHU presentation, and questions we discussed in groups:



Dr. Paul Farmer!

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Paul Farmer will be joining us later this semester.  

Hilltop is our annual Fall conference, and our Hilltop Chairs Niara and Shivani have been working hard planning the event.  Thanks to all of their efforts, Dr. Paul Farmer will be the keynote speaker for Hilltop 2015. 

Many of us at GlobeMed admire Paul Farmer's passion, commitment, and work.  A few of our members wrote about why his work spans all disciplines at WashU, and why everyone has something to learn from him: 

Engineering has taught me the means to creating change. However, this education would be directionless without the social change principles I have learned from the global health movement and the works of Paul Farmer. One gives me vision, while the other shows me how to act and impact. Both the global health movement and engineering have become entirely necessary in shaping what role I want to play as a global citizen.
— Julia Kong
As a student studying healthcare management in Olin, the opportunity to learn from a world renowned leader such as Dr. Paul Farmer is unparalleled. As a key founder of Partners in Health, Dr. Farmer has profoundly contributed to a business model that has successfully established quality, efficacy, sustainability, and reach of care as being its primary goals. The uniquely successful business model for combating healthcare inequality is the ideal case study to learn from as a student like myself who is deeply passionate about the movement towards global health equity and business.
— Moid Ali
Paul Farmer has been an important activist in the global health world. He has shown that health is not only a medical issue, but also a moral issue based in solidarity. Art can be a transcendent method of solidarity. It is a universal language. Artists seek to create points of personal identification through art as a means to elicit empathy, understanding, and emotional growth through recognition of a shared humanity. One performance, one sculpture, one canvas, can empower thousands of people to make a change in the realm of global health.
— Shelly Gupta
It would be an incredible opportunity to have a dialogue with Dr. Paul Farmer. In his work specifically on global health, Farmer emphasizes cross-sector experiences build on understanding complexity, listening to multiple perspective, and leading change. These conversations are exactly what the Philsosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) program emphasizes in bringing seemingly different disciplines together in an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.
— Adi Radhakrishnan

We would also like to thank the Assembly Series and SU Speaker Series for partnering with us to bring Dr. Farmer to our campus.  

Finally, we'll end this post with a favorite quote from Dr. Farmer himself.

For me an area of moral clarity is: you’re in front of someone who’s suffering, and you have the tools at your disposal to alleviate that suffering or even eradicate it, and you act.
— Dr. Paul Farmer



Why Join GlobeMed?

We are looking forward to welcoming a new group of changemakers into our community.  Here are some of our current members, explaining why they joined GlobeMed, and what it means to them now.



Our New Blog

Hello, world! 

Welcome to the GlobeMed at Washington University in St. Louis Blog!  We are excited to use this platform to share our community, our accomplishments, and our thoughts with you.  Please feel free to comment on our posts; we would love to hear what you have to say.  

We hope you enjoy reading!