Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Global Brigades traveling to assist underserved countries using telebrigades during COVID-19

Wednesday, April 14, 2021
From the left, Grace Powderly, Annie Martin, Claire Morrel and Julia Lincicum in Honduras during the Summer 2019 Global Brigades. Members of the Global Brigades travel to developing countries and create makeshift clinics to help serve members in these communities.
Photo submitted by Grace Powderly

Each year, the Global Brigades at SEMO travels to underserved countries, creating makeshift clinics, eco-stoves and water systems to serve the community members. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Brigades have been unable to travel but continue their work through Telebrigades via Zoom.

Students in the Global Brigades have traveled to Honduras since 2004, according to and stay a few hours outside of Tegucigalpa, traveling back and forth to remote communities several hours away from where they stay.

Junior president Grace Powderly said the goal of the Brigade is to aid communities in becoming self-sustainable by providing medical aid, humanitarian approaches and economic strategies.

Powderly said students in the Brigade bring medical supplies, and doctors and set up clinics in tiny school rooms or houses. Community members go from room to room having their vitals checked. The doctors teach community members about basic hygiene, and community members also talk with a general physician. The physicians fill out prescriptions and obtain medicine if needed.

The Brigades also use humanitarian methods to help underserved communities by building eco-stoves and water systems.

Powderly said the eco-stoves are created to reduce smoke and pollution inside the houses.

“A lot of the communities cook inside the homes, and they develop respiratory illnesses that become chronic,” Powderly said. “To reduce that, we decided to start building eco-stoves for the community that allowed smoke to be ventilated outside of their homes so they don’t continue ingesting the smoke.”

Students in the Brigade also build water systems by building pipelines. The water systems are large projects and take multiple trips to complete.

Due to COVID-19, students in the Brigade have been unable to travel to Honduras and work face-to-face with the community members in the clinics. The organization came up with Telebrigades during winter break to continue serving community members via Zoom. Students meet virtually with the patients, help with vitals, talk and translate illnesses with doctors and then the community members go from room to room for any prescriptions they might need.

Sophomore Justin Breault said the Telebrigade was the first Brigade event he attended. He said being able to sit back and dive into the work was impactful and made him look forward to attending the Brigade in the future.

To fund the Brigade, students sell T-shirts, host bake sales, hold raffles and partner with local restaurants. Many hospitals and medical companies donate supplies to the Brigade such as shampoo and toiletries.

The Global Brigade is open to anyone, regardless of major. The Brigade is traveling to Greece when travel restrictions lessen. Students will work in refugee camps and use a medical approach to serve the community.

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