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Feb 22, 2017

#GROWCommunity17: African, American

This is the last piece in this series of blogposts that reflect on ‘community’ and how students have enacted this value within their GlobeMed chapters.

Gianna White, 2017 GROW Coordinator at GlobeMed at Howard University, writes…

Community is the sharing of common attitudes, interests, and goals with a group of people. GlobeMed at Howard University is a diversity group of primarily black intellectuals from all regions of the world wanting to address health disparities domestically and internationally. The chapter embraces diversity, and this commitment extends to our GROW team, with members with roots in Nigeria, the Congo, and Cote d’Ivoire, However, despite our varied backgrounds, we all have a common goal: to use our aspiring health care professions to aid communities domestically and internationally in Africa.

Coming from an African nation or being of African descent gives a stronger meaning to joining a global nonprofit organization like GlobeMed. It is a life-changing experience to be able to help a country of people who look just like you, and to be able to represent a different type of American, and university student, from the ones commonly depicted in mass media.

As the GROW team and the GlobeMed at Howard University, we are firm believers in teamwork and learning from members of our chapter’s community. We embrace all cultures and ideas and use our meetings and events as safe spaces. When dealing with issues of justice and equality in the US and abroad, it is important to have engaging discussions on experiences and feelings. At chapter meetings we actively discuss current health topics as well as current political affairs that affect our lives and the lives of other people of color. In this way, we have an outlet to express ourselves and brainstorm how we can become active in the process of change in our local and global communities.

In Malawi, HIV and AIDS are the biggest problems in the country. They affect human development and is a significant contributor to poor human services in various villages and communities. While the number of HIV/AIDS cases are increasing, there is a significant lack of antiretroviral treatment (ART) services and HIV Care Clinics for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Nancholi Youth Organization (NAYO) was originally created to help children in Blantyre, Malawi. The population in the area is about 55,000 and comprised of 65% young people. NAYO is located in the rural area right outside the city, and works to promote access to ART services and nutritional help to the community.

Education is the most important tool that we can share with the people of Nancholi. The 2017 GROW team (Ginika Nzenwa, Lakai Legg, Nia Sweatt, Surya Lombela, and myself) will work together to create innovative ways to educate and inform the Nancholi community. I also plan use the skills I obtained as a certified peer educator (CPE) accredited by The Bacchus Network to teach the youth about HIV/AIDS and sexual health, and share my knowledge and research on prenatal and postnatal care for women.

We are all excited and actively preparing for the chapter’s first internship to make it as successful as possible. The greatest excitement stems from being able to teach the youth on sexual health, HIV/AIDS, and peer pressure. These are universal topics that are important to discuss at the pre-teen and teenage levels.

This is also a personal journey. While it is hard for African Americans to trace our origins back to the specific country in Africa, we see the GROW internship as the beginning of a long journey. We find fulfillment in giving back to various regions and in helping reduce health disparities present on the continent. It is important to know not only where you came from but to also try to make it a better place for future generations. 

For the entire 2017 GROW team to be active participants in the wellbeing of the children and youths in Blantyre, Malawi is such an honor.

Photo Caption: A ghU discussion led by Ngozi Elobuike and Temitayo Adanlawo takes place at a chapter meeting.

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