Global Water Brigades
The Global Brigades organization was founded on the ideals of helping communities empower themselves and to impart the importance of sustainability and empathy. Global Brigades has a holistic model with various branches such as Medical, Public Health, Business, Dental, Engineering, Water, and more. Our branch, the Global Water Brigades chapter, focuses specifically on an essential part of any community, water. Water is a necessity, and without access to clean water, life is difficult, and it is hard to imagine since we do not have to worry about that. In these rural areas, the nearest doctor is miles away, and many illnesses are from water-borne diseases, which can be easily preventable if they had access to clean water. That is our initiative, and we work with in-country Global Brigades engineers to build a water well along with the community. Global Brigades is very different from other volunteering organizations because they believe heavily in teaching the communities how to sustain themselves and become independent. We do not just go into the area and build a water well for them and then leave. We maintain a close relationship with every community our project affects, and we impart on them the skills they need to maintain and sustain the water well.
What We Do:
Our brigade is usually during our spring break in the spring semester. What we do at the start of the school year leading up to our trip are fundraising and awareness. On campus, we spread awareness about why water is so important, and how devastating the impacts of not having secure access to clean water is to communities around the world. Not only do we learn about the importance of water, but we also learn about the culture and history of the country we are going to for that year. While preparing for our trip, we learn about the history of Global Brigades and the values they impart to us, which we fully believe in. These values are the values of empowerment, sustainability, and empathy. We work with these communities to empower them and help develop leadership in members of the community. People volunteer to join a water council to help manage and become the principal liaison between the community and Global Brigades. We want them to be able to sustain their community with a long-term focus without reliance from Global Brigades. However, we never forget the connection we form with them, and they know that we will always be there with support and gratitude.
When we are in the country on our 7-day brigade, we usually spend the first day traveling and holding a Q&A; session with the community where they tell us why the project is so important to them, and how much of an impact it will have on their community once completed. We also have the opportunity to conduct house visits and personally speak with family members asking questions like "how will the project change your life?" and "why do you need this project?". Over the next few days, we work on the project with community members through digging trenches with pick-axes and helping lay down piping connecting them to individual homes. On one of these working days, Global Brigades hosts an educational fair for the children of the community and each Brigade school teachers them a water-based topic. The past two years, we taught water pollution and plumbing. On the last day, we travel and say our goodbyes, but once you are in the Global Brigades family, you are always in the Global Brigades family. They send us updates on the project and keep us in the loop even though we are hundreds of miles away back home.
Once we return from our brigade, we spend time reflecting together and preparing for next year. We do our last round of awareness and hold onto the bonds we have created with the people we met in Latin America and to our fellow brigade members.
Although we spend all of our fall semester and part of spring semester fundraising for our trip, we need your help! The price of flights, lodging, food, and money for the project is costly for each brigade member, and we want as many people as possible to come volunteer with us. Each volunteer that comes on the brigade helps bring water to four people, basically a family. Your money will go towards our transportation costs, but if we go past our goal of $5,600, we will be able to use that money to bring additional donations to the community. On our brigade to Honduras 2016, we used our money to purchase a large first aid kit for a few women in the community who volunteered to learn how to conduct first aid from a physician in Global Medical Brigades so they can help treat their community. If we had your support, we could do even more.
Our members gain more than you would think from solely going on our trip. Not only do we help the community in-country by bringing volunteers for the project, but we are also able to share our experiences once we come back home to inspire others to take action. Whether they join Global Water Brigades, any of the other Global Brigades chapters, or simply spreading awareness about the importance of water, people can help in tremendous ways.