By Jennifer Browning
Since their first partnering trip with Project Medishare in December 2008, University of Texas Health and Science Center in San Antonio (UTHSCSA) has been working toward raising enough money to send two medical groups to Haiti in 2010.
They received quite a boost after the group won a $10,000 grant from Ideablob.com this month.
UTHSCSA trip leader, Sheridan Fielding found out about the website by two friends who are involved with, Play For Hope, who successfully used Ideablob to win a grant for their organization earlier in the year.
“It is truly a remarkable site,” Fielding said. “The $10K monthly prize is clearly very neat in itself, but when you look closer at the site, it’s a dynamic website for idea exchange and encouragement of entrepreneurship. It also has become a fantastic venue for non-profit and/or public health organizations in particular to spread the word about the work they are doing and receive good advice from others who may have expertise in an area that is helpful to them.”
The Texas group’s involvement in Haiti and Project Medishare was inspired initially when Project Medishare Co-Founder Dr. Fournier visited their campus. Fielding said the first year medical students were captivated by the stories and work being done in Thomonde with community health workers, and wanted to learn more.
After the first team visited Thomonde in December 2008, they found themselves to be a strong part of a comprehensive plan to fight poverty and disease while improving the quality of life of those in the Central Plateau.
“We’ve recognized this opportunity in Haiti as truly unique from many other medical “trips” we’ve been exposed to,” Fielding explained, “[Project Medishare’s programs] are sustainable, ethically-run, and an opportunity for exposure to several aspects of public health and infectious disease, and the ways in which education, water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, access to health care, and disease control are intertwined.”
Fielding said her team returned to San Antonio inspired and encouraged by what they saw.
The UT group will use the $10K initially to help undercut the costs of transportation, lodging, medicines, translators, and supplies needed for their next two medical clinic trips in January and March. Ten percent of the grant will go toward the upstart costs for the Akamil Facility which is scheduled to begin operation in January.
During their last trip, Fielding said the UT group observed the construction of the Akamil Facility in Thomonde, which will work as an essential element in Project Medishare’s goal to alleviate childhood malnutrition and boost local economy of the area.
“We recognize the importance of advocating for and supporting the projects already underway within the Thomonde community,” Fielding said, “rather than focusing selfishly on merely getting ourselves back to Haiti.”
With UTHSCSA’s participation reaching their second year to be involved with Project Medishare, Fielding said the team is planning their involvement to be continuous.
“We are passionate for this to be a student project for years to come among the medical students at our school.”
To read more about their passion for their Haiti Project click here.