IU School of Medicine-Lafayette students compete for spot on global health trip with video, voting ends May 27
May 22, 2014
Three IU School of Medicine-Lafayette students are finalists in an online video contest for the chance to promote global health solutions in one of several countries in South or Central America.
Adam Cantor, Sonya Jayaratna and Michael Kim are contestants in the Med Plus Advantage Global Health Challenge, which will provide one team of medical students the opportunity to work alongside Timmy Global Health members in Ecuador, Guatemala or the Dominican Republic to help provide high-quality health services to underserved populations.
"After volunteering on a medical trip in rural El Salvador last summer, I knew that being actively involved in global health initiatives would always be an important part of my life," said Cantor, who is a second-year medical student at the IU School of Medicine-Lafayette and graduate of the IU Jacobs School of Music, where he majored in guitar performance.
Timmy Global Health, a nonprofit group created in 1997 to expand health care access across the globe, was founded by Charles Dietzen, M.D., a graduate of the IU School of Medicine who began his training at the regional medical education center in Lafayette and as a pediatric rehabilitation specialist in Indianapolis. Dr. Dietzen founded the organization after a trip to serve children alongside Mother Theresa in Kolkata, India. In 2012, Timmy Global Health won a top prize in the second annual American Giving Awards.
The name of the IU School of Medicine-Lafayette students' team is Sin Límites, or "Without Boundaries" in Spanish. In the video, Cantor plays guitar while Kim and Jayaratna cite statistics supporting their passion for global health causes. Among the facts they cited are numbers from UNICEF concluding that 768 million people do not have access to clean water, 2.5 billion live without proper sanitation and 1,400 die from unclean water or poor sanitation every day. They also note that 870 million people are starving, according to statistics from the WorldHunger.org.
"Which problem is the worst?" Cantor says in the video. "We can't decide. But one issue we wish to address in this video is lack of education."
This lack of education extends to individuals in the United States, as many people "simply aren't aware of what's going on," adds Kim, a second-year medical student at IU School of Medicine-Lafayette and graduate of the Purdue School of Pharmacy.
"And a lot of people are aware but they quickly forget, or they choose not to act," continues Jayaratna, a first-year medical student at IU School of Medicine-Lafayette and a graduate of IU Bloomington.
The first step is promoting empathy in order to "bridge the gap between awareness and action," concludes Cantor in the video, after which he sings in Spanish. Kim and Jayaratna provide an English translation using hand-held signs.
Cantor, who has recorded three albums, is also known for his YouTube videos, where his guitar tutorials and musical performance have racked up millions of views.
All three students have prior experience serving overseas with Timmy Global Health. Cantor and Kim spent part of last summer working in multiple clinics in El Salvador and Jayaratna and Kim spent time as undergraduate students serving in communities in Guatemala and Ecuador.
"What the U.S. lacks is a widespread awareness and connection to communities who do not have this access," the team writes in their application essay. "The three of us understand that the way to combat global health challenges is by spreading awareness at home by sharing our connection with others to strengthen a collective bond to these communities. Our backgrounds in medicine along with our experiences abroad have equipped us with the didactic and cultural knowledge to directly care for underserved communities today while providing the tools they need to stand on their own tomorrow."
Winners of the Global Health Challenge will serve as volunteer health advisors with Timmy Global Health, a position that involves collaborating with the organization to help alleviate health challenges faced by communities across the globe.
Health advisors participate in conference calls with Timmy Global Health staff members and leadership to learn about Timmy Global Health programming and the challenges faced by the patients they serve, as well as work closely with these individuals to suggest specific programmatic enhancements or other solutions to could improve the organizations ability to serve populations across the globe. Timmy Global Health Health Advisors also receive funds to implement these solutions, with oversight and approval from the organization.
The ballot for Sin Límites' video remains open through 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 27. Votes may be cast every 24 hours.
"A single vote is appreciated, but multiple votes will give us the best chance to win this competition," Cantor said. "All it takes is a couple of clicks."