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Week 2 of India!

Photo above: Amul and the 2014 MINDS Interns at Gandhi's Ashram outside of Ahmedabad. Left to right: Vatsal, Connor, Amanda, Katherine, Brittney, Matt, Amul (MINDS Program Manager), Laurie, and Eugene

It was an amazing second week here at the MINDS Foundation! We redefined our understanding of humidity after the monsoons started this week. Being from Seattle, we thought we knew what rain was, but we had no idea. Monsoons also mean all the critters come out—Laurie fought a snake to the death a couple days ago when it was sitting outside Katherine and Brittney’s room one night. One of our Indian neighbors came out with a wooden staff/famed scorpion smasher and started to poke at it and Laurie took it from him and flung it off the porch. It was a moment of victory all around, and Laurie is currently looking into careers as a snake charmer.

We went into the field three times this week, all to the same village: Kasumbia. The community mental health worker in the village, Pushpaben, gave us a tour around the village and we finally got a start on our project of mapping the villages. Eugene tried to get a selfie with a cow and got sprayed with cow poop, known as a failed experiment. It was an awesome experience and we are stoked that we finally completed our first map and had it approved by Dr. Niraj, who was extremely impressed with our work. We look forward to hopefully completing four more villages by the end of our trip.

Brittney and Amanda posing for a photo with some of the locals

Brittney and Amanda posing for a photo with some of the locals

This weekend, we ventured into the old city in Baroda and explored our first bazaar. Filled with floods of people, interested stares, and tons of goods ranging from food, clothing and jewelry. Brittney met some Britney Spears fans while shopping for bangles, as she is a direct comparison to the star herself. Eugene purchased a kurta finally and all of the girls scored the best scarfs they have seen yet. With our hands full of goodies the girls headed to The Chocolate Room (a cute little dessert café) which was a scary experience in itself. This adventure consisted of Brittney nearly getting hit three times trying to cross the street to get to the rickshaw and all of the girls getting lost trying to find the destination. Laurie saved the day by spotting the billboard nearby that advertises an engagement ring claiming the importance of women because the woman will “choose your meals for the rest of your life.” Meanwhile Eugene and the other male interns made it back safely and enjoyed some food ordered in (from Delfoo.com, our new favorite food delivery website).

DSCN0236[1]The pleasant addition of the new MINDS fellow, Connor, a few days ago helped to even out the lopsided gender imbalance. Taking advantage of his company, we all ventured off on an excursion in search of some much-needed chicken. After 2 weeks of protein withdrawal symptoms, we finally found the coveted Barbecue Nation. Eating like a famished herd of foreigners forced to eat curry every day, we demolished the buffet-style restaurant and wolfed down pound after pound of various styles of chicken, (strange) cheese, and all-you-can-eat dessert. We ate like royals and walked out feeling like victorious sumo wrestlers, ready to tackle the next round of the battle against vegetarianism with confidence.

The schoolkids in their yellow uniforms all wanted to practice their English with the MINDS Interns

The schoolkids in their yellow uniforms all wanted to practice their English with the MINDS Interns

While living in a film studio can be entertaining, it sure can get pretty damn boring. As a result, we happily set our alarms for 6am and crammed into vans for a 2 hour ride into the city of Ahmedabad. At the end of the bumpy ride, we stopped at a fine-looking Swaminarayan Temple. After exploring all (there were a lot) of the exhibits and watching a documentary in Hindi, we took our Swaminarayan infused bodies to the Adalaj Stepwall. Built in 1499 by Muslim King Mohammed Begda for his wife, we climbed, ran, and jumped all over the five-story building. While walking around the roof of the building, Brittney, Amanda, Eugene, and Vatsal were approached by a herd of enthusiastic and welcoming schoolchildren, excitedly flooding the group with questions about America and practicing their impressive English. After failing to convince them that Jackie Chan was Eugene’s uncle, the kids gave us a good laugh by asking if Eugene was Brittney and Amanda’s brother. The next and final stop of the day was at one of Gandhi’s ashrams, where we toured his house, learned how to spin the famed khadi, and admired his inspiring life.

We came back “home” exhausted that night. After a “surprise” meal of Mexican food (our first choice of Mexican food ran out, then our favorite (sarcasm) restaurant Foodies wouldn’t pick up the phone, so Laurie. Eugene, Matt, and Vatsal surprised everyone by buying Mexican food from another restaurant on Delfoo.com. told you we liked this place), we all sleep like logs. We woke up the next morning welcoming the heavy downpour because it’d buy us a couple more hours of sleep. However, as the day continued we hated being stuck at Laxmi Studios. The rain has been continuing ever since but we decided to brave out the rain and head over to Big Bazaar to stock up on snacks, tea, and other goodies (and get chicken at McDonald’s). On our way back though, we took a rickshaw with Brittney sitting on Katherine and Eugene’s laps. It was so wet, Laurie and Katherine who were sitting on the outside of the rickshaw were drenched on the side of their legs. The rickshaw hit a bump once and we all thought the rickshaw was going to tip over with Brittney falling out the side. We made it home safely, but the rickshaw driver took the opportunity to overcharge us even more than agreed upon (we agreed for 150 rupees, but when Laurie paid him he asked for 20 more).

Sending our love from the very wet India,

The GROW Team

PS. Eugene has started a cult.

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This is the MINDS Summer Volunteers group. From left to right: Matt, Vatsal, Amanda, Laurie, Brittney, Katherine, Irina, Eugene, and Amul (Program Manager)

Week 1 in India!

Photo above: This is the MINDS Summer Volunteers group. From left to right: Matt, Vatsal, Amanda, Laurie, Brittney, Katherine, Irina, Eugene, and Amul (Program Manager) This is the MINDS Summer Volunteers group. From left to right: Matt, Vatsal, Amanda, Laurie, Brittney, Katherine, Irina, Eugene, and Amul (Program Manager)

Amul, the MINDS Program Manager. He's such an amazing individual and takes really good care of us!

Amul, the MINDS Program Manager. He’s such an amazing individual who is also a master of yoga and friggin’ badass! His son is also adorable and we all can’t wait for the opportunity to babysit for him.

Our first week here in India has been exciting to say the least. There has been a lot of adjusting we had to do. Not only do we have to deal with the 90+ degrees and humidity, the loud horns from the highway, dogs barking (and wailing) at 3AM at night, we still are getting used to the fact that we are in a whole other country where people have not seen people like us before (thus a lot of staring) and we can’t expect everyone to speak and understand English.

Most of the pictures posted here are from last Thursday, when we took a day trip to Champaner and Pavagadh.

Champaner was the capital of Gujarat under Sultan Mahmud Begada from 1848 until after his death in 1535 when it was shifted back to Ahmedabad by Mughal Emperor Humayun. During his reign, Mahmud had developed the area and made it one of the grandest towns in all of Gujarat. DSCN0067
We visited the mosque that was built there for the town, and afterwards visited the mosque that was built for Mahmud himself (this is information that I got from a Gujarat travel guide that a nice shop keeper gave us after we stormed the place for colorful Indian clothing, but that’s a story for later).

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Eugene is so insightful.

Pavagadh was fun. I got sick on the way to the top because the Hindu Mahakali Temple sits on the top of the hill. In order to get to it, Amul drove us up mountains and then we took a cable car. I thought we were there after the cable car, but you have to keep going up through the village and then climb even more steps to the top. It was great (sarcasm). Myths say that Pavagadh Hill rose from the cow of Rishi Vishwamitra who was blessed with an inexhaustible supply of milk who fell into a gorge. She couldn’t get out because it was so steep, so she filled the gorge with milk and swam to safety.

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Holy cow! Yep, cows really do walk freely in the streets.

The sage didn’t want that to happen again, he prayed to the gods to help level the field. The gods answered by taking a chunk of the Himalayas and putting it in the middle of the Gujarat plains (again, I read this from the tourist book). At the temple, Katherine apparently rung a bell. She emerged with some red dots on her forehead looking super excited and yelling, “I’ve been blessed!” I was with Brittney and Eugene, and it was funny watching them force Brittney to drink out of the coconut. Brittney says that it was awkward since her coconut didn’t have any juice and they kept forcing her to drink. Eventually they broke another coconut and pour the juice into her coconut and to this day Brittney swears it’s one of the worst things she’s ever had. When Eugene and I got to them, they forced us to hold out our hands and gave some to us, and I can attest- it is SO GROSS. Then they stamped red marks on our foreheads (that took me FOREVER to wash off) and sent us on our way.

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Dr. Niraj (right) uses an example map to show us how we should strategize documenting the landscape of the villages. Left to right: Matt, Vatsal, Amul, and Dr. Niraj.

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We saw a monkey after the meeting with Dr. Niraj roaming the halls of the building. Makes you wish you went to school here, huh?

On Friday, we visited the MINDS office for the first time since being here. We had a meeting with Professor Niraj who went over out project with us. Since the medic mobile project is not yet ready, our team will be helping the MINDS Foundation by tracking the homes in each of the villages to be used for mapping out patients and campaign strategies. Yesterday, Katherine, Brittney, and I got to visit the village of Anandpura and take a tour of the village and meet a couple of the residents. Since Eugene was not able to go yesterday because there wasn’t space in the car, he’s out there today with Matt and Vatsal helping the social workers with their campaigning.

In our free time, we have grown fond of Bollywood and sit and watch videos as we perform other tasks, such as journaling and playing the 2048 on our phones. Seriously, Bollywood rocks- look up “Saturday Saturday” from Humpty—– (blanks mean I don’t remember what the name is) and “Hangover” from Kick. It is awesome! Eugene, Brittney, and Katherine have also been picking up some sweet dance moves that I’m sure they can’t wait to share with everyone at home. Please ask them about it if you get the chance.

GM<3,
Laurie (and the rest of the GROW Team)

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Wasssuppp?

 

DSCN0011We have all SURVIVED! After a day of traveling- where Eugene almost missed the flight,Katherine met a borderline alcoholic Irish man, Brittney fought an Indian lady for her armrest, and Laurie spent $8 on a Starbucks frappe in Dubai- we have all arrived in Vadodara. Raghu (Founder & CEO of MINDS) picked us up at the airport and was driven home by two vans (Eugene rode with our luggage in one, and Raghu, Laurie, Katherine, and Brittney rode in the other). The sights were overwhelming- we saw cows, donkeys, and dogs walking around the street, gross inequality (big houses fronted by shacks), and lots and lots of motorbikes and rickshaws. The air was also filled with the smell of cow dung and incense and loud car horns of various pitches and melodies.
Once we arrived, we were brought yogurt, water, and a Gujarati snack wrapped in newspaper. There’s geckos on the walls and the bathrooms slightly resemble medieval torture chambers. We were told we had the entire day to rest, and what was intended to be a 1-2 hour nap accidentally turned into an 8-hour nap (oops).
At night, while attempting to sleep there were an immense amount of various noises ranging from honking horns (which sometimes resembled music), birds chirping, people outside talking, and best of all a pack of stray dogs barking ferociously at monkeys during the wee hours of 3AM.DSCN0008

After an uneasy night of sleep, we rose at 6AM and were more than ready to go out and explore the city. Our first stop was the Seven Seas Mall. We were ever so lucky to all share an entertaining ride in one rickshaw (what Eugene called an “Ostrich Cart”) for 100 rupees, which caused Brittney to have to sit on both Laurie and Katherine’s lap in order to make room. Many of the locals were shocked to see Americans, since many have never seen an American in person, one man walking next to our rickshaw stopped to do a double take. Getting used to the staring has been quite the adjustment, and will most likely continue to be. In the mall we were able to eat lunch at McDonalds that included real chicken! Along with our meal we were able to do a little shopping in a store that can be considered a Walmart/Costco called “Big Bazaar”, where Laurie, Katherine, and Brittney were all able to buy some traditional Indian clothing for very cheap.

Beyond the couple of activities and events these past couple of days, the overall experience has been pretty strange to say the least. First of all, this blog post is currently being written in the dark because the power enjoys going out at the worst possible times. Also, the food is eerily simple; we had no idea there were so many different ways to make a curry that tastes just about the same. We’re still betting to see who is going to “get sick” first and apparently Brittney is in the lead (yay for pink pills). Anyways, on a happier note, we are staying in an old film studio and we are living next door to a really badass Indian soap opera star (luscious long hair and an awfully strong love for cigarettes). The amount of estrogen is also really frickin’ high.

Love,
GROW Team

PS. I am a whale

Preparing for GROW

In the week leading up to their Grassroots Onsite Work (GROW) Internship, our GROW interns are writing about their thoughts, hopes, and fears for the trip. Here, GROW Coordinator Katherine reflects on preparations for GROW.


India is a place of contradictions – it’s a country containing the 6th largest number of billionaires and 1/3 of the world’s 840 million hungry people simultaneously. Despite being the world’s largest democracy, an estimated 100 million people are treated as objects and involved in trafficking according to former Indian Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta. For everything going right or wrong in India, there always seems to be something to contradict it.

Knowing all this, it’s difficult to know what to know what to expect when we land in Vadodara in a little more than a week. That’s not to say we’re going completely unprepared – we have all spent inordinate amounts of time preparing for and attending weekly GROW meetings over the last 6 months, in which we’ve talked about toilets, the caste system, vulnerabilities, and yoga. We made identity pies, we ate naan, and we perfected the group hug. I couldn’t be more confident in the abilities of our team, yet I still can’t help but feel like I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. Slowly but surely, I’m learning that the most important thing we can take with us is the willingness to be wrong.

As the inaugural GROW team being sent to the MINDS Foundation, this year’s interns will establish the partnership and work towards fostering the longer term relationship that sets us apart from most medical mission trips. We’ll see our projects in action and hopefully develop a better understanding of our place in it all. We’ll witness the brilliant people that make MINDS run, humbly taking it all in and hoping to absorb wisdom that we can relay back to the chapter. When we return in the fall, all of us will be better prepared to help our chapter grow and improve (and will undoubtedly possess a newfound appreciation for toilet paper).

At this point, we’ve done about all we can do to prepare for this trip. I’ve surrendered to the fact that the more I learn about India, the less I understand it. It’s going to be overwhelming, challenging, and rewarding all at the same time, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for the adventure my beloved GROW team is about to undertake.

 

Transitions!

Transitions are in full swing! We all can’t wait to see who the new faces of the UW GlobeMed are!

Transitions are starting early this year in hopes that new Directors can assume their new role with the support of former Directors for guidance. This year, all positions are available for anyone who wants to be a part of GlobeMed’s leadership!

Here is a list of all of the Director’s positions that are available for next year with links to their description + application! Please take the time to look over positions that you might be interested in and contact the current director to set up an informal interview (not necessary but highly recommended). Applications are due via email to UWash@globemed.org by Sunday, April 13th at 5pm

If you are a current director and would like to maintain your position next year no need to fill out another application, just shoot an email letting us know that you will be running again. A review committee of Directors will be formed to read over applications and then those nominated by the committee will be placed on a ballot and the entire chapter will vote on next years directors. If nominated you will also have 3mins to stand in front of the chapter and tell them why you should lead GlobeMed. Also, applying for more than one position is encouraged!! 

 

Director’s Positions

  1. Co-Presidents, Marina/Sammy (marina.fitzpatrick12@gmail.comszeer99@gmail.com) —> APPLICATION 
  2. Director of Finances, Cole Bazemore (cole.bazemore@gmail.com) —> APPLICATION
  3. Director of Community Building, Laurie Tran (ldtran@uw.edu) —> APPLICATION
  4. Director of Communications, Kelly Bolander (kobolander@gmail.com) —> APPLICATION
  5. Campaign Directors, Olivia Lafond/Brittney Sen/Aneka Vo/ (olivia.lafond@gmail.combrittneymsenn@gmail.comanekavo@uw.edu) —> APPLICATION
  6. globalhealthU Directors, Izzy Majcher/Bingjie Wang (izzzzy99@gmail.combingjie@uw.edu) —> APPLICATION
  7. GROW, Katherine Venables (katherinevenables@hotmail.com) —> APPLICATION

The Chapter Member handbook is also available for you to take a look at. 

Igniting Change: A Gala for Partnerships in Global Health

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You are invited to GlobeMed at the University of Washington’s annual Auction and Fundraiser: “Igniting Change: A Gala for Partnerships in Global Health”.

The evening…
Begins at 6pm with a multi-media reception, beer & wine, gourmet hors d’oeuvres and silent/live auction. Raghu Appasani, CEO and Founder of The Minds Foundation, GlobeMed’s new partner organization will speak at 7:30pm and the night will end with a performance by the University of Washington Giddha dance team!

Buy your tickets now at:
ignitingchange.brownpapertickets.com

Support GlobeMed’s mission to build a more equitable world, while partying with Seattle’s social elite.
With a limited number of General Admission and VIP tickets, This Event Will Sell Out. Reserve your spot today!

Can’t make it? Every donation helps!
Donate here: https://rally.org/minds

11th Annual Western Regional International Health Conference

The 2014 Western Regional International Health Conference is presented by: the WRIHC Student Committee, the UW chapter of GlobeMed, and the UW Department of Global Health

REGISTER NOW! Early bird rates through March 21st

Uncensored: Gender, Sexuality, & Social Movements in Global Health

As the 11th annual Western Regional International Health Conference commences, hundreds of students, speakers, and supporters will gather to discuss and engage with the topics of gender, sexuality, and social movements in global health–topics that have previously been overlooked, invisibilized, and even censored.

Traditionally, the field of global health has addressed the topics of gender and sexuality through a biomedical lens, oftentimes neglecting the social movements that have contributed to advances in the field.  Themes such as HIV/AIDS and reproductive health have drawn much global attention and continue to be extensively researched, yet topics like transgendered identities and the criminalization of sexual minorities–among many other topics–have widely gone unaddressed.  Grassroots social movements such as indigenous rights movements and the People’s Health Movement have played an important role in broadening perspectives in many areas related to health, human rights and social justice, yet these stories are often omitted from our textbooks and syllabi.

This conference poses the following questions: what aspects of gender, sexuality, and social movements in global health have yet to be explored, and what are the forces that have contributed to the censorship of these themes?  How can global health advocates, researchers, and practitioners incorporate such content into our work?  How can the field of global health help to strengthen these movements, and what can we gain from incorporating more diverse perspectives on gender, sexuality, and social movements?

The intent of this conference is to extend and amplify the dialogue surrounding gender, sexuality, and social movements in global health.  By questioning and conversing, analyzing and disseminating ideas, and searching for what can be accepted within the inconsistencies, we can break down stigmas and stereotypes, and gain greater insight and understanding of these themes.  And though there are significant challenges and problems to be addressed, there is also much to be celebrated: pleasure, creativity, empowerment, and rich cultural diversities.

The conference will frame the three key themes of gender, sexuality, and social movements within six tracks:

  • Voices & Visibility: Power, Media, and the Arts in Global Health
  • Seeking Justice for Vulnerable Populations
  • Celebrating Gender, Sexuality, & Social Movements
  • The People United: Advocacy, Activism & Social Movements in Global Health
  • Perceptions Unmasked: Societal Elements that Shape Our Lives
  • The Modernization of Sexual Health: The Impact of Technological & Clinical Advancements on the Developing World

Support from:

With generous support from: Child Family Health International; Global Good; Global WACh; International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; OHSU Global Health Center; Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest; PNWU College of Osteopathic Medicine; PNWU Global Health Club; Seattle University College of Nursing; Simon Fraser University; University of Oregon African Studies Program; University of Oregon Department of Biology; University of Oregon Department of Human Physiology; University of Oregon Office of International Affairs Global Studies Institute; UW Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies; UW Jackson School of International Studies, African Studies Program, Center for Global Studies, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program; UW Q Center; UW Tacoma; UW Women’s Center; and Washington Global Health Alliance

With additional co-sponsorship by: Greater Seattle Business Association; Health Alliance International; Pride Foundation; UC San Francisco; University of Colorado; UW Bothell; UW Center for Human Rights; UW Global Business Center, Foster School of Business; UW School of Nursing, International Programs; Washington State University

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Benefit Concert 2014

Benefit Concert 2014

Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/596634

Come to the Tiny Ninja Cafe on Wednesday, March 5th for a night full of outstanding local performers who have generously donated their time and talent to benefit GlobeMed’s partner organization the MINDS Foundation in Gujarat, India. All proceeds will go directly towards funding the training, education, and supplies for the programs towards mental health work and education in the rural villages of Gujarat.

The Line up:
6:30pm – Doors open
Black Crabbe: 7:00-7:30
Stefanie Robbins: 7:40-8:10
San Juan: 8:20-8:50
A-Tran: 9:00-9:30
Douglas Brandon: 9:40-10:10

Early Bird Special: $10
Pre-buy tickets here and don’t worry about remembering to bring money for a ticket http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/596634
Tickets at the Door: $12

Check the preformers here:
– Black Crabbe: https://soundcloud.com/black-crabbe
– Stefanie Robbins: http://www.stefanierobbins.com/listen/
– San Juan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2cSgqnfgE8
– A-Tran: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE0Ez-Sob5E
-Douglas Brandon: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10203007280093149&set=o.383820001700087&type=3&theater

The Tiny Ninja Cafe will be offering:
-Alcohol for attendees 21+
-Coffee and Tea
-Pastries, etc

Parking & Bus Information:
– Parking is street parking, they have no parking lot
-The bus that drops you off near the venue coming from the U-district is Route 32
– The crossroads of the venue are 34th St & Stone Way N

Many thanks to the generous donation of the Tiny Ninja Cafe, whose efforts have helped make this event possible! Be sure to check out their page to see what other events their venue hosts:
http://tinyninjacafe.com/

New Year, New Partnership

When the 2013 GROW Team came back from Cambodia this summer, they brought back lots of Cambodian love and spirit, but also some bad news. Unfortunately, the Women’s Development Association (WDA) was running out of funding from their other partnerships for their projects and capacity had dwindled down to one staff member. As our members worked to help Executive Director, Soreach Sereithida, find ways to secure new funding- GlobeMed’s National Office made it clear to the chapter that our partnership had to come to an end as the funds we made would only contribute to paying Thida’s salary instead of supporting health education projects.

Within the next couple of months, the chapter struggled to move forward with campaigns and events, as we did not know what type of projects we’d be supporting and what we’d have to work on. However, many of our members reached out to Thida in Cambodia and are still working with her in helping secure funding through grants and other partnerships. Though we are no longer partnered with the WDA, the relationship we have with them is still strong, and we wish them the best in the future.

Our new partnership came at the end of January. GlobeMed at University of Washington will now be partnered with the MINDS Foundation in Gujarat, India, working on mental health education and treatment programs. With only 5000 mental health professionals in India (1 in 5 people live with mental illness), the MINDS Foundation works with 1-on-1 with communities and other small grassroots organization to provide education, health, and moral support to people living with mental illness.

486287_386671311406943_965508410_nAs a chapter, we have been given a great opportunity to start again from the beginning in building a new relationship with our new partner. We are still in the process of learning more about our partner and we have been discovering new things every day! Our campaigns and events are now resuming at full speed and we are excited to see what the future will bring!