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57 WVU students travel to Nicaragua to address medical needs

For the last nine years, the West Virginia University Global Medical and Dental Brigades groups have worked in collaboration with Global Brigades to facilitate work in Latin America. 

Global Medical Dental Brigades

This spring, the largest group to ever travel from WVU worked in rural Nicaragua for nine consecutive days, serving members of a highly resource-reduced region of the world. Fifty-seven WVU students and four faculty members traveled to Nicaragua to give medical care to the citizens of La Corona and Las Limas. 

The students and faculty worked alongside 14 medical professionals to serve 2,652 patients, constructed sanitation units for six families and dug more than 200 yards of trenches to create a clean water supply for the community. They provided nearly $110,000 in medical and dental supplies and organized the materials necessary to facilitate the medical and dental clinics in the communities. 

The team set a new record for Global Brigades for a single university on an individual brigade. 

Global Medical Dental Brigades

“This service project to Nicaragua set a new standard that will be difficult to match. The students’ efforts to fundraise and collect donations were fantastic, and the group far exceeded expectations in country,” said Daniel Brewster, instructor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Global Medical Dental Brigades adviser. “It is always a pleasure to work with some of the brightest and most brilliant WVU students, but this group was truly exceptional in their work ethic and their understanding of the impact of their efforts. They truly represented WVU wonderfully on an international stage.”  

Daniel Berrebi, a senior Spanish and biology dual major from Morgantown, West Virginia, is the chief financial officer of the WVU Global Medical and Dental Brigades student organization.

“This study abroad experience has been the most influential during my college career in terms of growth as a student and as an individual,” Berrebi said. “As one of the Spanish translators for our group, I served as a bridge between my peers and Nicaraguan volunteers. While working alongside medical professionals, I gained valuable medical knowledge and was put in a position to lead by example.” 

Aishwarya Vijay, a junior biomedical engineering major with minors in psychology and Spanish from Morgantown, West Virginia, is the president of the WVU Global Medical and Dental Brigades and has traveled to Nicaragua for the third consecutive year. 

Global Medical Dental Brigades

“Every time that I travel back to Nicaragua, it reminds me to understand the power of perspective,” Vijay said. “It is so important to refrain from judgement and to truly look at people with humanity.”

Brewster instructed a course called “Sociology of Health and Medicine” that prepared the students for the trip.

“My career at WVU has prepared me tremendously for this trip, especially with the associated sociology course,” Vijay said. “I learned a lot about the cultural and social norms of Nicaragua pre-departure, which made me more cautious of my actions while in the country.”

To support travel and other related expenses, the organization completed a crowdfunding campaign through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and WVU Foundation that raised over $6,000. This generosity was coupled with the efforts of a letter-writing campaign and gifts made during the inaugural WVU Day of Giving. 

To learn more about the Global Medical Dental Brigades and support similar initiatives in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, visit give.wvu.edu/eberly