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Oct 30, 2017

2017 GROW Photo Contest: Grand Prize & People’s Choice Winners

Every year, the GlobeMed Global Headquarters hosts a GROW Photo Contest to share some of the most powerful images from our students’ and partners’ work. See this year’s Grand Prize and People’s Choice Winners, and learn a bit more about their experiences working in partnership. 


Grand Prize Winner: GlobeMed at the University of Southern California

It was on our first day of field visits when we visited the community of Abim Obwul. After a 2 hour-long boda boda ride and eating more than a fair share of maize, we sat amongst the village community members, a group slightly sparser than the previous community we had visited. The turn-out at their weekly meeting was lower than usual because it was prime harvesting season and most community members had to tend to their crops. With that being said, the meeting was nothing short of lively.

In perfect unison, the community members clapped their hands twice before thrusting their right arm forward in a gesture that welcomed us to their village. Because they were in their planning  phase of their project implementation, everyone gathered around the large piece of poster paper taped to a shaded tree for their weekly community meeting. Not a moment of silence fell as hands consistently shot up and members contributed thoughts and ideas. The group consisted of a majority of women who were anything but shy. Spark MicroGrant’s designated project facilitator for Abim Obwul, Venny Oyella, translated the words of a community member who told us how “women never used to feel comfortable standing in front of people and reading, but these days they do it concurrently with the men, with a lot of confidence and comfort. Without fear.”

As students, we have endless opportunities to study abroad and do service learning with various organizations, but Spark stands out to us because of how empowering the process is to such communities. While some study abroad opportunities are tailored to prioritize the student’s experience in a voluntourist model, our internship stressed the importance of students better understanding their role in global health. In our case, we learned how the priority of our internship was to support Spark’s community-driven development model rather than to simply fulfill our own self-interests.

Written by Ruthra Umapathi


Partnership in Action: GlobeMed at University of Texas at Austin

“How about hiking a volcano to fundraise and raise awareness about our organization?” the Development Director of Wuqu’ Kawoq nonchalantly mentioned during one of our many Skype calls before the trip. The GROW team quickly agreed to this suggestion. Everyone was excited and eager to embark on such an adventure. Once we arrived in Tecpán, Guatemala and met with the director of our partner organization, it became evident that this fundraiser shouldn’t be taken lightly. The director informed us that the organization was losing nearly a third of their funds. Our mindsets quickly changed from “I hope we can reach the goal” to “We need to reach our goal for our partner.”

It wasn’t until we were hiking Volcan Santa Maria that I felt the bonds of our partnership strengthen. Prior to the hike, there were moments where I personally had difficulties communicating with the members of our partner organization due to the language barrier. However, while on the volcano, we were all able to support and encourage each other during the six-hour hike. So much kindness and generosity was shown as we shared snacks and jokes throughout the hike. As we camped on top of the volcano that night, I was able to learn more about the personal lives of the members of our partner organization. This hike was an amazing opportunity for the GROW team to learn more about our partner organization and vice versa. I’m also glad to say that we surpassed our fundraising goal of $2,000!

Written by Jessica Wu


Project Impact: GlobeMed at Rutgers University

With one of the main pillars of ChangeALife Uganda being water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), the students at the St. Lawrence Primary school in Migyera, Uganda incorporate WASH practices into their everyday lives. Here, members of the school’s WASH team gather after preparing their own soap from raw materials bought in and around the community. This soap is used to clean bathrooms, dishes/utensils, parts of the classrooms and any other areas the students see fit! With our chapter supporting the maintenance of St. Lawrence’s WASH team, it was exciting to see how students put together their cleaning materials and use them throughout the school year in order to maintain the upkeep of their school grounds. Throughout our GROW trip, it was heartwarming to see students from primary 1 to primary 7 work to keep their school clean. By allowing the WASH team to be something that all students regardless of their age can be a part of, students go through their schooling at St. Lawrence valuing and understanding the importance of cleanliness and clean environments. In doing so, the students of St. Lawrence continue to promote the idea of health and wellness within their community.

Written by Gloria Wowolo


Community: GlobeMed at Rutgers University

Before a game of germ tag, Jerusalem and Alleluia, two students at the St. Lawrence Primary school in Migyera, Uganda prepare to act as germs and infect their classmates. In a community that has seen a massive decrease in water-borne illnesses since the development and installation of a community well, the risk of “catching” one of the germs or diseases that Jerusalem and Alleluia are portraying has been greatly lowered. As they put together a plan to infect as many of their classmates as possible, the two boys display their ChangeALife Uganda t-shirts, a testament to CALU’s established roots within the community. Because of ChangeALife Uganda’s efforts to bring clean water to Migyera, Jerusalem and Alleluia will grow up in the community with access to clean water and the knowledge of how to protect themselves and their loved ones from water-borne illnesses.

Written by Gloria Wowolo


Spontaneous Moments: GlobeMed at Georgetown University

We woke up at 5am and hopped on, as the locals call it, a chicken bus to get to Xepache, a rural community in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Primeros Pasos, our partner, works with communities all throughout the countryside in a number of programs, one of which includes the Nutrition Recuperation Program, which works with chronically malnourished families to empower them with the tools to live a healthy lifestyle. That morning, we spent the day chatting and making art with the local women who are part of the program. Of course, a few kids tagged along as well, one of which developed an immediate bond with one of our GROW team members. Though there was a language gap between the two, they had a ball, playing games together, and even sneaked in a quick hug!

We are incredibly grateful for all the love we received from each community we interacted with. We received nothing but an outpouring of kindness for the entirety of our GROW journey and felt welcomed in every corner of Quetzaltenango we ventured into. We learned that all it takes to build a community is a little bit of love and a lot of hugs.

Written by Reena Goswami

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