Medical Brigade

Timmy Global Health IU conducts a number of fundraising, advocacy and outreach events, as well as, medicine and vitamin donation drives around the IU Bloomington campus. These events are vital for the success of our partner organization Pop Wuj and medical brigade. The brigade is the culminating event of Timmy Global Health IU. Every year students apply for one of 16 spots to attend the trip down to Guatemala. The application process involves answering a few short answer and essay questions and an interview with some of the board members. All Timmy members and IU students are encouraged to apply, but the process is very competitive.

The trip entails a five-day brigade in the rural surrounding areas of Quetzaltenango or Xela. We travel with a number of doctors, nurses and one or two pharmacists to provide basic health care and check-ups for each of the five communities. Each community that we visit plans for our visit almost month ahead of time and tickets are sold for a nominal fee. This puts extra value on the ticket and encourages attendance once the brigade is on location. Once on the brigade, each patient is triaged by a student before seeing a doctor. This includes obtaining the temperature, height and weight of each patient as well as the main purpose of the visit. After the triage station, a doctor examines the patient. With the doctor, is a student translator to translate from Spanish to English, a Native translator to go from Spanish to the native Guatemalan tongue (which can include Kiche, Kaqchikel, Q'eqchi, and Mam), and a student shadow. Once the doctor has seen the patient, they prescribe the patient the necessary medicine and vitamins that they can pick up from the pharmacy that is being run by the pharmacist and a few other students. The other vital part of the brigade is 'crowd control'. A number of students are responsible for looking after and entertaining the children that come to the brigade while their parents are being seen. Crowd control allows the most one-to-one interaction with the Guatemalan people and is often many students favorite part of the trip.

The last day of the trip is spent in Antigua and allows the students to relax and enjoy the antique city about an hour outside the Guatemalan capital. The amazing city sits in a valley surrounded by a volcano and a number of mountains and has a number of markets, authentic restaurants and cafés and antique buildings. On this day, students often rest after a tough week of brigade and shop for the amazing Guatemalan coffee to take home for loving family and friends.

The Timmy Global Health Trip is an eye opening experience that allows Timmy members to see the benefits of a years worth of work. The disparity between average health care in the United States and Guatemala is huge and difficult to grasp until you see it with your own eyes. The trip is also extremely rewarding and often time’s trip-goers make some of their closest friends while on the trip. If you are even the slightest bit interested in Timmy, or global health care in general, please apply for the trip. We hope to see you in Guatemala!

Contact Paige Boyer (paboyer@indiana.edu) or Olivia Sanchez-Felix (orsanche@indiana.edu) with any questions regarding the 2014 Spring Break trip!