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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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    Medical Brigade spreads love

    The Stony Brook Global Medical Brigade, or GMB, hosted its first “Spread the Love Gala” in the Student Activities  Center this past Thursday. The event raised funds for the club’s expected trips to Ghana and Honduras in May.

    Since its start in 2004, GMB has been the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization, involving recruited professionals and thousands of student volunteers from more than 300 universities. The organization offers nine skill-based service programs, one of which is medical, to improve quality of life in under resourced communities. These other groups include architecture, business, dental, environment, law, microfinance, public health and water.

    The Stony Brook chapter of GMB was founded in 2010 by a group of dedicated students. Their first brigade to Honduras involved 40 student volunteers, five Honduran doctors, two Honduran dentists and one American nurse. Two years later, GMB has grown to 85 student members and has expanded its involvement by planning to send two brigades this year: one returning to Honduras, and one to participate in the newly formed Global Brigades program in Ghana.

    GMB Treasurer senior Eric Ma said he joined SBU GMB after hearing of a friend’s experience.

    “I saw that this was a club that was so different from any other clubs on campus, more than e-Board meetings and informationals,” said Ma, a first year Brigadier on Stony Brook’s Ghana Brigade. “Since this is my last year at Stony Brook, I really wanted to take advantage of this great opportunity and really do something extraordinary, something that I wouldn’t really have the opportunity to do once I graduated.”

    The evening began with a musical performance by the all-male a cappella group, the Stony Brook High C’s, as guests made cards that the GMB will bring to the villages they will be visiting. The South Asian and Western fusion a cappella group, YUVA, also performed. Guests participated in a free raffle with prizes such as a $25 gift certificate to Red Mango, coffee and other restaurant gift certificates. The dinner menu included a wide assortment of food from 13 local vendors and restaurants, ranging from O Sole Mio’s pasta and chicken parmesan to sushi from Ssambap Korean BBQ. Stony Brook’s first comedy club, the Comedians’ Guild, topped off the “dinner and a show” atmosphere with original stand-up routines.

    Vibin Parakkattu, president of the Honduras Brigade, said the GMB “did great for our first big event on campus,” and he expressed his hope in making this an annual event. More than 200 tickets were sold, raising approximately $800 that will be used to buy necessary medical supplies and recruit medical professionals for both the Honduras and Ghana Brigades this year. Parakkattu added that GMB is a sustainable program.

    “[Global Brigades] goes to the same villages every three months, which is awesome because these people are getting continued care. [Other] programs come and provide care also, but no one knows what happens to these villages after they leave,” Parakkattu said.

    GMB historian junior Ginny Mule said that the group is continuously raising money for their cause. Members have sold silicon bracelets that say “Let’s Play Dr.” as well as lollipops, but this is their main event.

    “We do coordinate with other [Global Brigade] groups for some fundraising, but everyone needs the money so we are basically on our own,” Mule said.  “We try to do awareness events together.”

    GMB hopes to collaborate with other clubs on campus in the future and aim to inspire new Brigade groups to form on campus.

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