A Trip to Honduras on Medical Brigade Changes Lives for Both Students and Locals

Aug. 23, 2011

For most people, a trip to Honduras revolves around reef diving, Mayan ruins and visits to biological reserves. For a group of 23 Brooklyn College students, however, it involved something much more meaningful.

This summer, the group participated in the Global Medical Brigades — volunteers from colleges and universities around the world who travel to rural, underserved communities in Ghana, Honduras and Panama to participate in community health clinics.

Sabia Akbar, a senior psychology major, was among the students who went on the trip, the first time Brooklyn College participated in the seven-year-old program.

"It was life changing," says Akbar. "For pre-med students to get the opportunity to travel abroad is amazing. It helped me make some decisions about my future plans, and most importantly, I learned how awesome it is to help people."

The group went to a village about two hours from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. They provided medical care to more than 500 locals, distributing medicine and vitamins and doling out advice on matters of hygiene and clean drinking water. They also visited an orphanage and brought books for the residents.

"It was the kind of trip that made you realize what you had at home," says Akbar.

The group raised money to pay for the trip by holding fundraisers like bake sales and karaoke nights. They managed to reduce the cost of the trip to $750 per person from the more than $1,600 the Brigades charges students for lodging, transportation, medical supplies and other items.

This was the first year the Brigades started a student chapter on campus. Akbar will be vice president of the club and says the group plans to return to Honduras next summer.

"You get so much clinical experience out of this," she says. "A lot of kids think they have an idea of what it's like to practice community medicine, but you really have no idea until you have a hands-on opportunity like this."

The 2011 Brooklyn College Global Medical Brigades was supported by contributions of $8,000 from CLAS Student Government, $1,500 from the Academic Club Association and $1,000 from the Graduate Student Organization.


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