The UCSB Global Brigades is recruiting student volunteers interested in undertaking projects providing vital services in underprivileged countries.
The campus group is collaborating with its international division and mobilizing undergraduates for annual trips to supply medical treatment, create waterways and build schools in Honduras and Ghana. The organization advocates for human rights through charity work and has various branches including medical, public health, water and architecture.
According to Public Health Brigade President Amanda Beaudry, a fourth-year biological psychology major, the humanitarian group helps address the root causes of medical issues in foreign countries.
“Doctors saw in the clinics a lot of the same problems so they went to the village homes to see what was happening,” Beaudry said. “It’s important to address the immediate problems but it’s just as important to ask, ‘What can we do to prevent them from happening again?’ In this way, our work is very sustainable.”
The organization’s Water Brigade sector improves access to clean water to prevent the development of potentially fatal diseases, according to Water Brigade President Beau Williams.
“[Water] really boils down to a form of preventative medicine. If you can nip certain illnesses in the bud before they happen, it helps other clubs like the Medical Brigade by not having them treat those illnesses down the line,” Williams said. “[We] leave a lasting footprint and create a huge impact from the start.”
The brigades host local fundraisers year-round to cover the costs of lodging, food and project supplies for student volunteers. Additionally, the group enlists translators and doctors in the region as additional members.
Medical Brigade President Jamie Miller, a fourth-year biological science major, said the group has also received financial support from undergraduates through Associated Students.
“We fundraise at local restaurants and do many other things such as grant writing, but we’ve also gotten help from the Associated Students Finance Board,” Miller said. “It’s always been amazing to get [help] through the school because it shows that they support what we do.”
The associations collaborate to make significant improvements in the countries they visit, Williams said.
“The sum is greater than the parts. We’re all cogs in the wheel and we play a different role for the same goal — to increase the quality of people’s lives,” Williams said. “Each of our missions addresses a different need that interties so well.”
Establishment Chair Kristen Skinner, a fourth-year microbiology major, said performing charity work in developing countries is a personally rewarding experience.
“I joined the Medical Brigades initially because I wanted to contribute to something that was bigger than myself,” Skinner said. “You go down there and you expect to help these people so much but what you come away with is amazing and rewarding as well.”