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fter her first year at Mount Allison, Laura Stymiest ('11)
knew she wanted to pursue medicine on an
international level. So she began looking for tangible
experience in the field. Together with Gillian Gibson ('10) and
Mayme Lefurgey ('10), Stymiest created the Mount
Allison chapter of Global Brigades -- an international
network that provides communities in developing nations with
sustainable health care solutions.
"Global Brigades has been an amazing opportunity to get some
very hands-on experience and make a difference in addressing
disparity in healthcare," Stymiest says. "It was also important
for me to expose students to a different country and get them
thinking critically about international development work while
fostering a global perspective."
now, three years later, it has become a family affair. Stymiest's
mother Debbie ('79), father Bev ('78), and sister Kate ('14) all
went on this year's Brigade -- the largest to date with more than
80 students, health professionals, and volunteers.
As a dentist, Debbie has joined Laura all three years. This year
marked Kate and Bev's first Brigade. "Each year my mother and
sister returned home from Honduras with endless stories --
some happy, some sad, and some extremely touching," says Kate.
"Community service has always been important to me and I
knew Global Brigades was an organization that would provide
me with an opportunity to give back."
Mount Allison's Brigade has grown by more than 30 people
since its inception in 2008. The group went from providing
medical and dental care to adding water and public health teams,
who have worked with five families over the past three years. The
Brigade has also incorporated an electronic patient database and
now performs vitally important pap smears and prostate exams.
Each year the group provides healthcare to more than 1,500
people over four days.
Debbie believes the growth of the Brigade has been exceptional.
"Our medical and dental care has transitioned from addressing
immediate needs at a primary level, to preventative and restor-
ative care. This year I was able to provide fillings, improving the
smiles of many people in the village."
Bev, a sales manager for a software quality assurance company
in Fredericton, says it was a fantastic opportunity to share the
experience with his family. "We have traveled extensively in the
past, but to spend our time in Honduras working to improve the
health of the community members of La Ceiba was entirely new
and rewarding."
Kate plans to continue volunteering with Global Brigades in
her remaining three years at Mount Allison, with a focus on the
preventative measures of public health. Debbie and Bev will not
be far behind.
This fall Laura will head to Dalhousie University Medical School
(new Brunswick), but her commitment to Global Brigades will
continue. She will remain as a national co-ordinator and on the
Board of Directors, working to establish Global Brigades in
Canada and to achieve non-profit status.
by Melissa Lombard
feature StOry
-- Laura stymiest