This year’s first-year medical students were issued a challenge in the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course: Choose an international nonprofit to support as a class, and faculty will match the funds up to $5,000.
The challenge isn’t new, but this year’s results were. The first-year students have exceeded expectations and bested all class challenge records by raising more than $23,000 for their charity of choice – the West Africa Fistula Foundation (WAFF).
A nonprofit organization, WAFF works working with local and U.S. physicians who repair genitourinary fistulas in young women. Formed usually due to prolonged childbirth, these women are otherwise ostracized by their communities with severe consequences. (See video for more information on WAFF.)
Led by MSI Class President Vikas Gupta, MSI Class Service Senator Peter Haddad, and MSI Class Social Senator Joseph Guillory, the students held a multi-institutional semiformal dance, hosted a Valentine’s Day bake sale, and had a silent auction, in addition to direct donations received to support the cause.
“In a year of medical school when many first year students believe they are ineffective, this project promotes the powerful understanding that OUR UT HOUSTON STUDENTS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. And do,” explains Dr. Joanne Oakes, assistant dean of educational programs and founder of the ICM challenge.
The previous international challenge class record was held by the Class of 2016, which raised more than $18,000 for Smile Train. These funds resulted in over 70 cleft palate surgeries for children who would have been shunned by their communities.
Former classes have supported the completion of the Amahoro Secondary School in Mgaraganza Village, Tanzania, established scholarships, built water wells in Mexico and Guatemala through Living Water International, supported a girls orphanage and school in Guatemala, sponsored three Kenyan girls’ high school education, and built a school dormitory and lunch program in Kenya through Maisha International Orphanage. (See thank you video.)
“We as a school should be very proud of our students’ efforts to change the world. They do,” Oakes added.
-Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School