Campus & Community

Students assist with water projects and provide medical relief in Nicaragua

International business major and women's volleyball player Cassidy Rooke takes a patient's blood pressure at the triage station of the medical clinic the DU group set up in the community. Photo: JD Arora

International business major and women’s volleyball player Cassidy Rooke takes a patient’s blood pressure at the medical clinic the DU group set up La Laguna. Photo: JD Arora

The University of Denver is home to dozens of unique clubs, including the Global Medical and Dental Brigades. Over spring break in March, members of the club ventured to rural Nicaragua to provide water and medical relief to communities in need. This was the chapter’s fifth spring break trip visiting either Nicaragua or Panama.

“These trips are an extremely humbling and enlightening experience,” says fourth-year club president Yingyot Arora. “In college, it is easy to become extremely absorbed in your personal bubble. This trip provides a great opportunity to step back and reflect on the big picture and what is truly important.”

For the first three days of the trip, the volunteers visited the community of La Laguna, where they set up a medical clinic and saw nearly 1,000 patients.

“This clinic provides an opportunity for community members to get access to medications and medical care they don’t normally have access to,” says third-year club co-president Haley Umans.

During this year’s medical brigade, students worked to triage patients, shadowed American and Nicaraguan doctors and dentists during consultations, assisted in the pharmacy and led educational sessions for children.

“On our second clinic day, we encountered an 86-year-old man with severe osteoporosis from over 70 years of working as a farmer,” Arora says. “Throughout the whole visit, this man had a smile on his face and was genuinely happy and appreciative to be there. He brightened the day of every single person who had the opportunity to work with him.”

For the next two days, brigade members participated in the DU chapter’s first-ever water brigade in another Nicaraguan community — one without any previous access to safe drinking water. During this phase of the trip, volunteers worked alongside locals to build infrastructure that would give the 70-person community access to potable water.

“Since the men in the community were working side-by-side with us, I had an opportunity to have great conversations with them,” Umans says. “They were so grateful that we were there working with them. It was a nice reminder that although we come from such different places, we all were still working for people to have the basic necessities.”

In addition to educating its members on the work they will do, the Global Medical and Dental Brigades Club spends much of the year raising funds for the trip and for medications to stock the pharmacy. The gratitude they see from the communities they help makes it all worthwhile.

“It was really touching to see how a group of college kids like us truly have the power to make a difference in people’s lives,” says second-year member Della Turque. “It was a really special moment.”

This story first appeared in the Clarion and is reprinted with permission.



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