Students can make a difference

Many people wish the world was a better place, one where fellow human beings didnt have to face genocide or severe socioeconomic disparities. Other people do something about it.

They could use our help and we can
They could use our help and we can

McMaster University student Navita Dyal is one such person. On a visit to Guyana in the summer of 2007, when Navita was only 17 years old, she was appalled by the enormous deficiencies of that nations health system. She resolved to tackle the issue head-on, and created Giving Life in the Rural (GLITR). GLITR, a student-founded, one hundred per cent student-run charity committed to raising funds to finance desperately needed medical clinics in impoverished rural areas. GLITR has since grown immensely, encompassing chapters at McMaster University and York University, and is fully registered as an official Ontario charity.

G LITRs goal is to optimize public health. It is involved in planning, funding, and establishing health clinics in the rural regions of Guyana, dealing with such issues as blood pressure monitoring and HIV/AIDS awareness. It also participates in educational campaigns to promote basic understanding of health prevention and curative measures, reducing the incidence of easily avoidable illnesses. These measures are intended to facilitate the provision of quality health care options for the Guyanese population, and also provide compassionate and dignified care to individuals already afflicted with a disease.

Trained GLITR personnel are now involved in educating the public on basic health procedures, such as the proper use of glucometers. Practical advice, through physical demonstrations and easy to understand medical literature, is given to patients, geared toward specific ailments on a caseby- case basis. Initiatives like healthy eating and regular cardio-vascular exercise are promoted to strengthen wellness and immunity, especially among at-risk individuals.

Furthermore, GLITR administers simple diagnostic tests, related to chronic illnesses like HIV and diabetes. It also manages programs distinctly aimed at youth, such as the Healthy Start Program, which provides multi-vitamins and other nutritional supplements to the neediest elementary school children. Currently, GLITR is sponsoring twenty children under this program, improving their physical health and their ability to excel in school. This nourishes their potential to achieve a brighter future, bringing hope to destitute families.

Another one of GLITRs successes was dispelling the assumption that young people are too self-absorbed to care about humanity. After the group was first launched, three hundred Facebook members signed up within the same week, each one a university student willing to dedicate his or her time and effort to humanitarian endeavours. The startling success of this start-up charity is only the beginning; the exemplary work ethic and genuine passion of GLITRs student volunteers bodes well for continual operational expansion, reaching more individuals and serving as a pillar of communitybuilding in areas changed by GLITR.

Some may wonder what exactly separates GLITR from the multitude of similar organizations out there. At first glance, its mission may seem all too familiar, but it is also genuinely unique in many ways and a deserving recipient of infinite fundraising support.

First, it is administered solely by volunteers; no administrative fee is required to pay any employee salaries, so all donations are allocated strictly to projects on the ground. Second, not only does it seek to enlist youth involvement, but its entire structure is dedicated to instilling a life-long pursuit of philanthropy among the university students of today. Third, rather than pitching band-aid solutions to complex issues, it seeks to empower individuals with the tools to take control of their own health. By properly educating communities regarding basic preventative measures, for example, GLITR helps save lives while minimizing the burden on hospitals, stretched thin with limited resources and lacking the capacity to absorb new patients. And lastly, GLITR has ambitions to expand globally and greatly broaden its reach, constantly searching for new resources to implement its mission.

As a result of its educational activities, as well as its contribution to boosting clinical access, GLITR truly has a positive impact on enhancing the quality of life in poverty-stricken areas. Through continued fundraising success, this inspirational student-led organization can further improve the state of public health. Always seeking to add to its army of student volunteers, GLITR hopes more students will get involved in this worthy cause and help make a real difference in transforming peoples lives.

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