By Tiffany Whitfield

Biomedical Sciences major Bethlehem Dawit gained insight into health care around the world this summer when she and 14 other ODU students traveled to Honduras as part of Global Medical Brigades.

The nonprofit on-campus organization's mission is to provide primary health care services to small, rural communities with limited to no access to medical care. Dawit serves as president of ODU's chapter.

Dawit and the other ODU students ventured to Tegucigalpa, Honduras for seven days and helped with medical triage in villages. Each of the ODU students worked side-by-side with pharmacists, ophthalmologists and other health care professionals to provide aid to hundreds of Hondurans. "Because of COVID, we had to follow strict guidelines when it came to patient interactions," said Dawit.

Villagers came from miles away to receive medical treatment. While patients were waiting to be seen at various medical stations, they were redirected to receive presentations by the ODU students and other volunteers. "We were able to shadow physicians and give educational workshops about mental health and COVID-19," she said.

"We had a total of about 207 consultations, 42 vision screenings, 10 Health education workshops, 16 pap smears and five prostate exams," said Dawit. "It was a rewarding experience."

Prior to the trip, Global Medical Brigades sent over 200 bags of medical supplies for patients. The medical goodie bags included toothbrushes, sunscreen, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, lunchbox bags, hand sanitizers and much more

Dawit is part of the Bachelor of Science Doctor of Medicine (BSMD) program, which is a joint program offered through ODU and Eastern Virginia Medical School. "ODU has made a huge impact on me," said Dawit. "I'll be able to finish out my four years at ODU and then begin my medical degree at EVMS."

The medical trip to Honduras will help her on her career path to becoming a pediatric oncologist.

As a junior this school year, Dawit plans to recruit others to join Global Medical Brigade. "You don't have to be a science major to join us," said Dawit. The club has students who are studying business, nursing and more from across ODU.

ODU's Global Medical Brigades students are planning their next trip to Greece in the summer of 2022. To donate or learn more click here.

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