Giving back to the community is an important goal for students in the Baylor Global Health Interest Group. Recently, the group, in collaboration with the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services (AMCS), organized the Refugee Health Fair.
The event brings together student and faculty volunteers, community vendors and organizations and local refugee resettlement agencies to provide free preventative health screenings and care, educate refugees about health hygiene and preventative health topics and connect refugees with resources in the community. Refugee Health Fair committee co-chairs Sally Huang and Stephanie Moreno, both second-year medical students, further discuss the Global Health Interest Group and the Refugee Health Fair in the Q&A below.
What made you want to join the Global Health Interest Group?
SH: I have always been interested in other cultures and in the circumstances (social, environmental, political, physical, and emotional) that allow people to live to their fullest potential. The ability of individuals to change and move forward is something that binds us together, and I believe we are responsible for the wellbeing of others. The Global Health Interest Group is a great place to connect with other students and faculty who think globally and want to advocate for the health of those who are living in less fortunate circumstances.
SM: I was interested in joining the Global Health Interest Group because I wanted to learn how I could use medical knowledge to provide sustainable healthcare in regions that also deal with obstacles unique to lower- and middle- income countries.
What is your favorite part about being in the Global Health Interest Group?
SH: The Refugee Health Fair is the group’s largest event, and it is my favorite part about being in the Global Health Interest Group. Seeing the outpouring of support for the refugee community and the very real impact that the fair has on those who attend is heartwarming and deeply satisfying. Some of these individuals have experienced the most traumatic of situations and persevere to build a new home for themselves and their families in Houston. I love working with them and listening to their stories; their resilience and resourcefulness are things we can all learn from.
SM: My favorite part of being in the Global Health Interest Group is just how much I’ve learned from my classmates about what global health is and what it can be. I think many of us have a very narrow view of what global health is and what it encompasses so it has been very exciting to see how global health can be applied to any specialty and interest.
Can you tell us more about the Refugee Health Fair and what role you played in helping with the event?
SH: This year, more than 100 student volunteers from Baylor, McGovern Medical School, UH School of Pharmacy, UH College of Optometry, UT Dental School, Texas Women’s University and Rice University worked with attending physicians and case managers and interpreters from AMCS to provide services and childcare on the day of the fair. The event is supported by the Texas Medical Association Foundation (TMAF) and by the BCM GLOW Grant. Due to their generous support, two fairs were held – one in November 2016 and the most recent one in April. As co-chair of the Refugee Health Fair committee, I oversaw a team of nine committee members that worked together to plan the fairs. This involved site visits to Alliance for the fall fair and to the Baker-Ripley Center for the spring fair, inviting other institutions and community partners to attend, mapping the logistics for the day of the fair and coordinating and training student volunteers. Of course, the event would not have been possible without our student volunteers, and credit goes to the whole team for making this fair our best one yet!
SM: The main goal for the fair is to reach out to our extensive refugee community here in Houston and to assist them in creating a medical home that can meet all of their health needs. We want to welcome our refugee community members by providing them with information on how to get health coverage after their six months of coverage is terminated, provide basic health, dental and vision screenings and introduce them to many of the local organizations that can partner with them to enhance their overall wellness. My role in the event was serving as co-chair of the event with Sally. We determined the location, event date, invited local organizations, handled the logistics with our other partner Neighborhood Centers and led our amazing planning committee.