Medical Brigade Plans Humanitarian Trip

  • BY Cal State East Bay
  • June 1, 2016

Cal State East Bay pre-medical student Osman Sharifi remembers a childhood in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, where medical care was virtually nonexistent. Families, including his own, lived in mud homes with no furniture and children clung protectively to their one or two homemade toys such as kites — prized possessions in a community with so little. 

So when Sharifi and his fellow students landed in Nicaragua last year for a weeklong humanitarian trip providing medical care to a rural village, he was reminded about why he decided to pursue medicine.

“When I went and saw that people lived in houses made out of mud ­— that was my childhood — and I wanted to do the best I could to help out,” Sharifi said. “I didn't have access to health care as a child, which was one of the main motivating factors of me going into medicine.”

This summer, Sharifi and more than 30 others from CSUEB’s Medical Brigade are headed back overseas to help — this time in Panama. They are asking the CSUEB community for help getting there.

Angela Arata, co-president of Global Medical and Dental Brigades, said she expects 34 students to attend the trip to Panama this year. Students are responsible for raising about $1,700, which covers their airfare and simple accommodations in the village. They can fundraise on their own, work at various events to raise money, and people can donate to a group fund that will be distributed among the students. Raising the money for the trip can be tough for some students, but most feel it’s worth every penny, Arata explained.

“These trips give you a chance to shadow physicians and see how health care is delivered in another country — it’s really different from here,” she said. “It makes you realize that health care is not equal everywhere; it’s nice to get that broader perspective." 

For Sharifi, it’s a reality that reminds him why he will apply to medical school this summer and why he spends countless hours studying each week.

As a child, he knew of a peer in Mazar-e-Sharif who died from an untreated fever and said the experience had a profound effect on his interest in medicine.

“People (in my hometown) died from things that could have been treated easily in the U.S. … It motivated me to provide (care) to people who are from low-socioeconomic backgrounds,” Sharifi said.

Medical Brigade students like Sharifi are spending the last few weeks of the school year raising their final funds and collecting items they’ll take with them. If you would like to donate financially to their campaign, visit the Medical Brigade fundraising website.

The following items can also be donated in the bins located in offices around campus (North Science - 113, New Union-2011, North Science-131)

  • Garbage bags
  • Paper towels
  • Pens and markers
  • Brown paper bags
  • Small disposable cups
  • Small liquid containers
  • Small resealable plastic bags
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner and lotion
  • Soap
  • Floss