Jul 10, 2017

Promoting GlobeMed Partnerships at the Grassroots Level

Ask anyone about how GlobeMed makes an impact in global health, and you will get several answers. Some people say that we make a difference through our leadership development programs. Others say our globalhealthU curriculum is what caught their attention. Most people say “Definitely, the GROW internships” or highlight aspects of our partnership model.

Changing the way change happens

Every year, we engage new GlobeMed chapter leaders and members who work tirelessly to maintain strong, collaborative partnerships with grassroots partners in far away locales. Through the annual Grassroots Onsite Work (GROW) internship, a small group of those ‘GlobeMedders’ travel thousands of miles to gain immersive international experiences working with their partners within local communities. In past years, at different times, our staff have also travelled to partner organizations in multiple countries on three continents. But never before have GlobeMed partners, GlobeMed staff, and GROW interns all met onsite — in the same place — at the same time. Until now.

This summer, our Partnerships team — Shengxiao Yu and Brittany Zelch — has been undertaking partnership facilitation visits in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The purpose of these visits is to assess GlobeMed partnerships and gain a better understanding of their missions, operations, and impact within local communities. These visits also help them gain insight into the annual Grassroots Onsite Work (GROW) internship from the perspectives of partners and interns through interviews, meetings, and social visits.

Perspectives from our Directors of Partnerships

From May to early June, Shengxiao Yu visited organizations such as Social Organizations for Voluntary Action (SOVA) and Alternative for Rural Movement in Odisha, India and Social Action for WomenBurma Humanitarian Mission, and the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) in Mae Sot, Thailand.

Shengxiao also planned this year’s Partner Forum, which was hosted for the first time in Asia. Gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand between June 8 to 10, partners from twelve organizations spanning the continent met for the first time. Anil Parajuli, co-founder and coordinator at Himalayan HealthCare, shared that Partner Forum was an important form of leadership development, particularly for younger participants. “[Partner Forum] provides a setting where we learn and share,” he said. As a small group facilitator, Anil also received firsthand experience in driving meaningful conversations with other GlobeMed partners, and learned from their different challenges and perspectives.

Shengxiao will close out her partnership facilitation visits this July in Latin America, specifically Nicaragua. She spent her first day (yesterday) with A Ministry of Sharing Health and Hope and their GlobeMed at Rhodes College GROW team in Managua.

Brittany Zelch, who oversees our partnerships in Africa, spent the month of June visiting 10 partner organizations and their GROW interns, including Mission for Community Development (MCODE) in Uganda, Komera in Kenya, Shirati Health Education and Development in Malawi, Nancholi Youth Organization in Malawi and Young 1ove in Bostwana. Brittany was previously the Chapter Support Associate at GlobeMed, focusing mostly on chapter advising with minimal contact with partners. Over the past year, and since assuming her new role, that gap has closed quite rapidly.

Seeing GROW interns and partners work together has deepened my appreciation for GlobeMed’s partnership model, and reminded me how strong the GlobeMed family is, even between partners,” said Brittany. “Each GlobeMed partner organization is unique, despite their common values and grassroots approach.”

Where do we go from here?

Back at GlobeMed Global Headquarters, the experiences and knowledge gained by our Directors of Partnerships will be integrated into our work and strategic objectives for the new academic year. The entire team, with the help of our summer interns, are hard at work planning our upcoming Leadership Institute, which will take place in Evanston on August 10–12. Leadership Institute equips GlobeMed leaders with the essential knowledge and resources to confidently step into the GlobeMed network and strategically plan for the year ahead. We look forward to meeting the new co-presidents and globalhealthU coordinators of our 59 chapters, and — with Brittany’s and Shengxiao’s guidance — paving a new way for partnership in our twelfth year.

No matter how you look at GlobeMed’s impact, one thing remains: it is because of your support that we can help drive change at so many levels, in so many ways. Thank you!

Shengxiao meets with KWAT staff in Mae Sot

Women show off beautiful bamboo crafts, in India

Our partners at the 2017 Partner Forum in Asia

Brittany meets the MCODE staff and GROW Interns

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