March 11, 2015 9:07 am

50:50 CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT: LAUREN BRITT

Written by Rosali Vela

Lauren Britt from the University of Michigan completely covered the cost of her participation fee for her MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in Lima, Peru by simply organizing a successful 5050 campaign. In no time, Lauren's strategy for her campaign and the generous contribution of friends and family earned over $2,000! Her campaign was straightforward and allowed her to have an amazing trip experience in Lima. Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.

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How did you hear about the 5050 campaign?
I heard about the opportunity to organize a 5050 campaign through the chapter at my university, through emails and from the MEDLIFE website.
 
How did you fundraise for your campaign?
Basically to raise money and put my campaign out there, I just posted it on my social media accounts and emailed to reach out to friends and family.
 
Do you have any recommendations for people considering a 5050 campaign?
For people considering organizing a 5050 campaign, I would just say, don't hold back! Send it to everyone. You'd be surprised at the people who you are not really in touch with but who want to help out and help fund your trip because. I mean, some people I haven't talked to since middle school donated to my campaign!
 
What was your experience organizing a 5050 campaign?
The campaign was super easy and really accessible. All I really had to do was upload a picture of myself and change the formulated message to make it a little more personal. I kept checking and every day I kept getting more and more donations. I was awesome!
 
How has your mobile clinic experience been so far?
So far it's been incredible here in Lima. I wasn't very involved in my chapter at school, but after this trip I think I'm going to be more present in the group.
 
What has your most memorable experience been with MEDLIFE so far?
So far the tour of Pamplona Alta was the most eye-opening and inspiring part of the experience because it showed us where we're doing work throughout the week.

MEDLIFE is known for its volunteer trips, where students dedicated to public health and social justice journey across the globe to provide essential services to communities and individuals in need. It is also within MEDLIFE's mission to expand chapter members' educational opportunities, enabling them to gain exposure to the ideas and opinions of professionals and academics across disciplines related to Medicine, Education, and Development. A MEDLIFE member does not need to travel across the world to be introduced to new concepts or have their perspective on the world altered. They need only organize or attend a M.E.D. Talk.

M.E.D. Talks are MEDLIFE's take on TED Talks. TED Talks take the best and brightest of their fields and give them center stage to share their ideas about Technology, Education, and Design with the world. Hundreds of speakers from across the globe have exchanged ideas, innovations, and initiatives that will change the way the world approaches challenges in the years to come. Each speaker bears their own perspectives on and solutions to problems the world faces, ready to discuss and debate the merits and shortcomings of each idea before them. Goals for change are stated, debated upon and altered. Above all, ideas are put forth for others to hear. A forum for discussing global issues enables, enlightens, and engages its participants and presenters alike. MED Talks do the same, however they take on the topics of Medicine, Education and Development and their numerous complexities.

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Though it may be years before they will be on the TED stage themselves, MEDLIFE students from across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico come together every semester at their respective educational institutions to discuss topics relating to Medicine, Education, and Development. Future doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, community organizers, medical technicians, public health specialists and more collaborate to create forums for the exchange of ideas. Members of each chapter get a chance to interact with other attendees before listening to and engaging with professors and professionals from their universities and local communities. The goal of each M.E.D. Talk is to facilitate students' professional and personal development by increasing their access to today's specialists for the betterment of tomorrow.

During the Fall 2014 semester, MEDLIFE Chapters at Dartmouth College, MIT, and McGill University hosted their own compelling M.E.D. Talks that ranged in topics from alternative engineering methods in impoverished communities to the global response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Here are summaries of their M.E.D. Talks, each successful in their own rights. They differed in size and execution, but the purpose and outcome was the same:

Dartmouth College

Ebola continues to plague Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea and poses a threat to the global community if effective treatment and prevention methods are not employed. With the hemorrhagic fever on everyone's mind, MEDLIFE Dartmouth, in partnership with another campus global health organization, brought in Patrice Juah, a Liberian activist, to talk about her firsthand experience as a member of an Ebola-stricken community. Ms. Juah was a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative that placed her in residence at Dartmouth for the summer of 2014. During her talk, Ms. Juah discussed her reaction to the outbreak—which escalated drastically during her absence—upon her return home, as well as the obstacles she faced when returning to the United States. Fueled by a combination of personal loss and an overwhelming sense of a gap in education for the Liberian population about how to prevent the spread of the disease, Ms. Juah helped launch the Martha Juah Education Fund. She discussed the initiative of the organization—it aims to educate students in the face of school closures—as well as the challenges the organization faced in coordinating its efforts. Ms. Juah also discussed her work with the Arterial Network, which focuses on the cultural impacts of Ebola. Its goals are to distinguish the region's identity from the disease that has captured the globe's attention through the power of artistic expression.

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MIT

The MIT MEDLIFE Chapter hosted Professor Libby Hsu for their M.E.D. Talk in the fall. Prof. Hsu discussed her work in impoverished communities in Nepal and El Salvador. A member of D-Lab, a developmental laboratory devoted to creating and disseminating beneficial technologies for impoverished communities, Prof. Hsu's talk revolved around her most recent work developing sustainable sanitation methods in El Salvador. The discussion expanded during the question and answer period to include the ways in which communication is critical to facilitating developmental work and Prof. Hsu's experiences in Nepal developing concrete mixtures that are effective, affordable, and accessible.

McGill University

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Credit for the establishment of M.E.D. Talks goes to McGill University. The McGill University MEDLIFE Chapter hosted the first M.E.D. Talk in the fall of 2013 and continued their tradition of excellence this past fall with a four-speaker series entitled “Healthcare in Marginalized Communities.” One of the many distinguished speakers at their conference was Dr. Colin Chapman, a Killam Research Fellow at McGill University and a member of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Chapman discussed his work with primates in Kibale National Park, Uganda and the challenges of balancing primate conservation in the face of the continual expansion of the local human population.

Another speaker that presented was Dr. Joyce Pickering, the Vice Chair for Education in McGill University's Department of Medicine and a general internist. She talked about her work in international health and disease prevention, including current challenges facing the global community and the steps necessary to predict and respond to global disease outbreaks. Dr. Joyce was joined by Kalia De Boer, a mental health specialist and addiction counselor who worked for several years in the Inuit community of Hopedale, in Labrador, Canada.

347-4-McGill-MedTalkMs. De Boer described her experience being embedded in an isolated community of approximately 550 people and the obstacles an outsider must overcome when trying to help a community with their most intimate and sensitive problems. The final speaker included in the conference was Helen Hsu, the founder of MEDLIFE McGill and a veteran of the efforts to undue cuts in federal healthcare for people of refugee status in Canada. She discussed the unique vulnerabilities that immigrants and refugees are confronted with once they have fled to Canada. 

These pioneering M.E.D. talks are just a few examples of what MEDLIFE chapters across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico are currently planning and organizing.  No matter the theme or the size of the event, students and MEDLIFE members are expanding the realm of discourse about Medicine, Education, and Development at their schools.

January 20, 2015 10:37 am

50:50 CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT: Wesley Tomlinson

Written by Rosali Vela

Read about one of our volunteer's experience organizing a highly successful 50:50 campaign for her trip to Lima, Peru! Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.

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Name: Wesley Tomlinson

Amount raised: $1300

Are you a MEDLIFE chapter member?

I'm not actually in a MEDLIFE chapter. I decided to come alone with my best friend from med school. We both go into different universities so we thought it would be an amazing experience to meet up half way around the world to partake in a volunteer trip.

How did you hear about the 50:50 campaign and why did you decided to organize one?

It was on the website when i signed up to MEDLIFE. My sister who had previously been on a volunteer trip told me all about it. After reading up the benefits of the campaign on the website I knew thye campaign was for me. It became a clear decision once i knew that half of the money i raised would go towards funding my trip and the other half to helping out the community that I wanted to volunteer for.

How long before your trip did you start and finish?

I only started my campaign in October. I remember only having 60 days left until Lima, only starting the campaign a month or so before my trip. It was at this point that I started posting on social media websites and sending out e-mails. I was very lucky to have friends and family who would share my link to the page.

What did you do to be most successful with your judgment when you fundraised? Did you encounter any obstacles in the process and how did you over come that?

I tried to reach out to as many different people as possible, to see if they would be willing to donate. I was stunned with the feedback that i received, as everyone I reached out to were very supportive, financially and verbally. However, I did encounter a few obstacles. Some people chose not to respond to me, some people just ignored my requests, but you have to take these experiences on the chin and keep up the momentum.

What advice would you give to others who want to start their own campaign?

I would say just go for it! Even if you are worried about not raising any money, it can't hurt to try. You have to think and stay positive!

January 12, 2015 10:28 am

CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT: Queen's University

Written by Molly Trerotola

MEDLIFE at Queen's university started small, but, with the dedication of a few motivated students, it grew rapidly. Read this interview with students from one of Canada's very successful chapters and what they do for fundraising events, member recruitment, and their goals for this coming year!

When and how did your chapter begin?

MEDLIFE Queen's began in the fall of 2012. Inspired by the success of the McGill chapter, we wanted to provide students at Queen's University with opportunities to contribute to MEDLIFE's mission. What started as five friends sitting around a kitchen table has now grown into a major source for student involvement opportunities on campus.

What strategies do you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus? 

To promote MEDLIFE on campus, we strive to maintain visibility, both in person and online via social media. Whenever possible, we try to establish a face-to-face connection with students – whether that be through clubs fairs, class talks, or simply by setting up at a table in the student center, we do our best to ensure MEDLIFE Queen's remains an available and approachable organization. In addition, we work to maintain a strong social media presence, focusing on eye-catching images and graphics. We post these not only on our own page, but also within various Facebook groups to maximize our reach. By ensuring our online presence remains professional and visually impactful, we feel we set ourselves apart from other groups on campus.

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What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?

To recruit new members, we rely a great deal on clubs fairs and events – this makes September a very busy month for us!  We also send information through department email lists periodically throughout the year to promote new opportunities for involvement.  Our chapter is organized into a number of committees, namely Mobile Clinics, Fundraising, Outreach & Education, Conference, and Expansion. These committees plan and execute various initiatives and require an application and interview to sit on. For students wishing to join the chapter in a more casual way, there are many ways to get involved, including volunteering, socials, outreach events, and talks.

What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year? 

Throughout the year, our chapter hosts a number of fundraisers and other events.  This past semester we have held a Western-themed fundraising event at a downtown bar, volunteered at a local soup kitchen, set up a “MEDMail” booth to allow students to send postcards to MEDLIFE staff and volunteers, and have held a number of general meetings. Next semester, we are looking forward to a benefit concert, 5k run, global development conference, and much more!

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What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?

For this academic year, our goals include running three successful mobile clinic trips in addition to a development corps trip. We are also looking forward to new initiatives, such as our benefit concert and conference, as well as continuing annual events such as our 5k. In addition, we have placed a greater focus this year on outreach and education activities, with the aim of increasing on-campus engagement with health and human rights issues, both locally and globally.

December 29, 2014 10:25 am

50:50 CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT: Aubrey Kuester

Written by Rosali Vela

Read about one of our volunteer's experience organizing a highly successful 50:50 campaign for her trip to Cusco, Peru! Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.

342-1-Aubrey-Kuester-5050Name: Aubrey Kuester

Amount raised: $1285

What are you studying? I study at Florida State University and I'm studying exercise science. 

How did you hear about the 50:50 campaign? I heard about the 50:50 campaign when I signed up through the MEDLIFE website. The campaign is advertised on the first page, and it seemed like the easiest and most effective way to raise money.

Why did you decided to organize a 50:50 campaign? I decided to organize a 50:50 campaign to not only raise money for my own trip but I also wanted to help the communities in any way that I could, and I know it would be easier for my relatives donate.

How many weeks did your campaign last? I started my 50:50 campaign roughly a month before my trip and I reached out to all my relatives and friends in my community to help me make this trip possible.

What did you do to make your campaign most successful? What I did specifically to raise money was send emails to most of my friends and relatives, also my old coaches and teachers that I've had in the past. I wrote a personal email, not just a generic one they provided on the website, and I sent it personally to all my relatives with their name and my own link to my personal page. I think it was really effective because half the money was donated to Cusco. People were more willing to donate rather than the money just going to me. It ended up being a great advantage for my campaign and I ended raising a lot of money that way.

Did you encounter any obstacles in the process? How did you overcome them? It was a little difficult getting people to donate online, some people were skeptical about putting their credit card through an Internet system, but I think the 50:50 campaign is a really secure and easy way to donate.

How was organizing a 50:50 campaign a positive experience? The 50:50 campaign was extremely rewarding, specially after I came here to Cusco and witnessed it first hand how little the people here are working with and the conditions that they have to deal with. Knowing that I personally raised a significant amount of money, enough for medicine for 90 people and supplies so they can use in a daily basis, just made it extremely rewarding.

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What do you think of your volunteer trip? Its been extremely rewarding so far, especially seeing the smiles on the kids faces and actually been hands on and experiencing the culture here. It has been extremely worth it.

How do you feel about the impact you have made by raising money to support a local community? Before I came to Cusco, I didn't know what to expect. Personally, witnessing the conditions that people have to deal with here, and how little medical attention they have, what little access they have to proper medicine and education makes an organization like MEDLIFE really important. It has such a positive effect on the community since we are not asking for any money, we are giving free medical attention to people that truly need it, that they might have to drive or walk hours to get just basic health care. It is something that is very close to my heart and I couldn't be happier about being here.

 

 

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