November 19, 2012 | 2:11 p.m.
By Tricia Theurer, Communications and Marketing Specialist for University Relations
Since 2011, Bethel students have partnered with GlobeMed, a grass-roots organization working to improve the health of people worldwide who are living in poverty. Bethel’s chapter is the only Christian organization among the 50 university chapters across the U.S. and the only one in Minnesota.
Each university chapter works with a grassroots health organization in a developing country. Bethel is linked to the Rural Economic Development Association (REDA) in Svay Rieng, Cambodia--where 91% of the population doesn’t have access to sanitation--to provide water pumps and toilets to those in an orphanage sponsored by REDA. Last academic year, Bethel’s chapter raised $3,900 for nine latrines, three water pumps, and a shower/bathroom facility for the REDA center orphanage. This academic year the group has four major initiatives: to provide water pumps/filters; to create an income-generating project (providing small loans to encourage the start of small businesses); to initiate outreach to the larger Bethel community; and to incorporate more lasting partnerships with alumni, faculty, and staff.
The three co-presidents, Joel Edwall, Katie Hayden, and Andre Scarlato, along with Laura Rasmussen, the campaign coordinator, have been profoundly affected by their experience the past year and a half. For Edwall, who hopes to work in public health, “there’s nothing like GlobeMed on campus. It put a name to what I wanted to do.”
The chapter has grown to 30 student volunteers from a wide range of academic majors. Scarlato, who started the group 18 months ago, says he has begun to understand what partnership looks like at its core. “As an educated male, how do I relate to this community in Cambodia? What do solidarity and grass roots mean? This cross-cultural work has affected my world view.”
It’s been a particularly transformative journey for senior biokentics major Hayden, prompting her to change her career path. “GlobeMed has harnessed an energy and passion in me,” she says. “Now I’m interested in international policies and health.” She hopes to go to law school as a means to enact policy change. “Systems cause poverty,” she says. “I want to work on policies to change those systems.”
Though a student-initiated movement, GlobeMed provides national support to its chapters. “Structurally, it’s incredible,” says Scarlato. “We Skype with the national office every other week; they guide us but it’s a student movement. We now realize that we have pull in our community. Students can do it!”
Naomi Ludeman Smith, associate professor of intercultural studies, serves as the group’s faculty advisor. “God is whispering to the GlobeMed students’ spirit, intellect, and imagination,” she says. “They are responding at an impressive level of professionalism and depth of learning and dedication. They've done this on their own initiative and research, rising to the challenge to leave their mark in the name of Jesus.”
The group is planning a benefit dinner this winter that will discuss justice and how GlobeMed is addressing it. Contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.