Global Health

My Birthday Wish

Dear friends and family,

It’s hard to believe that I’m already turning 22! It’s been an incredible year and I have so much to be grateful for. This year, instead of birthday gifts, I’m asking friends and family to consider donating money to a cause that I am very involved in and passionate about.

GlobeMed at The University of Texas was founded in 2010 as a chapter in a growing network of university students trying to make a tangible, sustainable difference in global health. Our chapter is partnered with Clinica Ana Manganaro, a free healthcare clinic in rural Guarjila, El Salvador. Rather than just giving money or medicines, we strive to work in solidarity with the members of the clinic and community to create sustainable projects that they truly need. The people of Guarjila are very hard workers, but coming back from a terribly violent civil war is something that no one can do alone. Guarjila was on the forefront of the battles during the civil war and nearly every one of the current residents lost a friend or relative during the fighting. Some still bear marks of battle, but they have not lost hope. Salvadorans are a very resilient people and this small community is no different.

As I continue to learn in my public health classes, the health of a community is truly the foundation of its survival. Gandhi relevantly said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” I believe that a community’s health is incredibly important in driving local development. By helping build this foundation for public health, we can help the communities to drive development on their own. Without the burden of preventable disease, people will be more able to work, to take entrepreneurial risks, to attend school, and to better their lives and the community in general.

This year, we are partnering with Clinica Ana Manganaro to build a community health library adjacent to the clinic. Even in Guarjila, building a new building is expensive, but we believe that this investment is truly that, an investment into the future of the community. Public health education is an area that needs improvement in El Salvador, and through this outlet, we hope to help empower the residents to be able to make healthy behavioral choices for themselves. Building a library is not as glamorous as raising money for HIV treatments, cancer research, or a new orphanage, but it is important, very important, to develop sustainable healthcare infrastructure that will allow the communities to be self-sufficient in promoting health, preventing disease, and developing their local economies.

We’ve already seen big improvements resulting from our partnership. Two years ago, we raised $10,000 for the construction of 47 new latrines for families that previously had no bathroom facilities. We’ve taken on sanitation projects and a food cooperative that allows pregnant women and new mothers to work while providing healthy, local foods for the community. This year, our library project continues with the theme of developing sustainable healthcare systems that allow the members of the community to take care of themselves and each other. I believe that this is more than charity; it’s empowerment. The world is demanding that we do more than simply invest capital into developing nations. We must work in solidarity, in partnership, with those in need to create healthcare systems that do not depend on our eternal support. The infrastructure to enable self-sufficient health care is one of the best investments that we can make.

Turning 22 is not typically a remarkable event. It seems that after 21, there really aren’t any landmark birthdays for a while. I want to make this one memorable, and since I don’t need any more stuff, I want to give back to the world that’s given me so much to be thankful for. Here’s what I’m proposing:

This year, I plan to raise $2200 for my 22nd birthday for a community health library in Guarjila, El Salvador. Instead of asking for gifts, I’m asking friends, family, and anyone who is willing to help out with this cause to give at least $22 for my 22nd birthday to help make a difference in a community that will sincerely benefit from our small sacrifices. Together, with just a few people making small gifts, we can impact the people of Guarjila in an amazing way. 100% of every dollar you donate will go straight to the community in the form of the development of the clinic’s community health library. Even if you don’t have $22 to give, any amount you can manage to part with will be greatly helpful. A small act of kindness can go a long way.

To show you how excited and passionate I am about this project, I’m going to pledge the first $100 towards the total out of my travel savings. I know this will push my travel plans back a little bit, but it’s a small inconvenience for me, and a huge benefit for the people of Guarjila. Definitely worth it.

If you’re willing to donate a few dollars (or more!), please visit GlobeMedUT.org/donate and follow the link to our Razoo donation page. While you’re at it, check out our entire new website that my committee and I just made and let me know what you think. The information on the actual Razoo donation page hasn’t been updated yet for this year’s project, but your money will go to the right place. When you make a donation, please add my name under the “dedicate my donation to someone” option so that I can track how much I’m able to raise. Once you’ve donated, please also send me an email at brianwlackey@gmail.com so I can have an idea of how close I’m getting. Lastly, if you know of anyone else who might be sympathetic to this cause, please forward this to them.

Thank you so, so much for your time and donations. It truly means the world to me. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an email.

Yours,

Brian Lackey

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