By Brian Freiberger
Imagine stepping inside of Nicaragua, a third world country in Central America known for its many volcanoes, beaches, and lakes – and a lack of simple living essentials.
Brianna VanCamp, a senior clinical exercise science major at Central Michigan University, stepped into the country through Global Medical Brigades, a program aimed at helping rural communities in need of basic living essentials.
VanCamp, a 2012 Vicksburg High graduate, was in Nicaragua for nine days with an experience that would last a lifetime, “You never really think about being grateful to have a floor in your house, it’s the simple things,” Said VanCamp about her experience.
Global Medical Brigades are volunteers who help medical professionals to help build sustainable health services in rural communities with limited access to health care and other basic living essentials, according VanCamp. The focus of the project is in Panama, Honduras, Ghana and Nicaragua, according to Van Camp.
During the first day of the trip VanCamp helped make hygiene and medicine packs and for a clinic that would last for the next three days.
The medical clinic consisted of different stations such as triage which is where patients come to get their vitals checked, and she shadowed a physical consultant station that was teaching kids about dental hygiene.
During the next two days VanCamp helped families build bathrooms that had both a shower and a toilet. VanCamp mixed cement and laid brick during the process.
On the final day of the project, she helped dig a trench from a water source farther up the mountain down to the village. “Eventually the goal is that they don’t have to go there anymore.” The trip took two days’ roundtrip to travel from Michigan to Nicaragua, according to VanCamp.
VanCamp stayed in an urban hotel and traveled roughly an hour to get to her project site, “having that perspective of a third world country. it was a very influential trip,” said VanCamp about its effect on her emotionally and professionally. VanCamp learned about these trips during her freshman year but never took the opportunity until her senior year of college.
Wendy VanCamp, Brianna’s mother, said her daughter has gone to inner city parts of Washington D.C and New Orleans in the past to gain medical experience. “It gives her a really good opportunity to see more than what she is familiar with. It has taken her out of her comfort zone into other cultures to see the need that is out there,” said Wendy.
VanCamp is currently an intern at Borgess Hospital and will be graduating from CMU in August 2017. She is also the first graduate in her immediate family. “I think everything I’ve known of her for the past 21 years this was right up her alley. she has been that volunteer helper and very involved with that kind of stuff since she was in middle school,” said Meredith.