Under New Management: LuziCare
Jamie Goldring '09 knew he wanted to spend the summer of 2006 working with non-profit organizations when he chose to volunteer in Malawi, Africa. Little did he know how much his life would change upon discovering just how severely the lack of accessible healthcare affected Malawi's citizens. In response, he founded LuziCare.
This year, LuziCare has already sponsored several events on campus, including last month's speed dating night-and-a-half marathon. Leaders Ricky Schwartz '11 and Zach Ezor '10 have already raised over $2,200 and hope to collect over $15,000 during the 2009-2010 school year to donate to the cause.
After interning with the Pendulum Project, an organization that Goldring said "works with small grassroots community organizations," he returned to Mayflower Hill, determined to spread the word about the issue facing Malawi. Inspired to make a difference, Goldring started the LuziCare organization on campus in the fall of 2007.
"My trip to Malawi certainly has influenced a lot of what I've done since," Goldring said. "I learned a great deal about third world poverty. I really wanted to bring my experience in Malawi back to Colby somehow and do something to benefit people in the communities in which I worked."
LuziCare "seeks to improve [Luzi Orphan Care's] capacity to provide home-based care for people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses in communities the organization serves," according www.luzicare.com.
LuziCare approaches its goal with a three formula. First, it provides "formal training in home-based care methods approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) to Luzi's untrained volunteer community health workers."
Second, it purchases ambulance bicycles to "serve as mobile care clinics" and to "allow Luzi volunteers to transport those in serious need of medical attention to local clinics."
Thirdly, LuziCare also harvests crops through an agricultural project to raise funds for the cause.
"Sometimes it's only a matter of a few kilometers that prevent people in emergency situations from getting care and surviving," Goldring said.
Only two years old, the LuziCare club is thriving on Mayflower Hill as it seeks to raise funds to better the lives of Malawi's citizens through student-run projects on campus.
"People have been coming to us [with ideas, and] CAs [Community Advisors] are coming with dorm events. The word is really spreading around campus," Schwartz said. "For Jamie, he put his heart and soul into this project, and for us, we're continuing his legacy. It's really exciting."
In an effort to spread word about the healthcare issue in Malawi, Nick Cunkelman '11 is currently working on a documentary addressing the matter as part of his independent study. In partnership with Ken Wong '83 of Face-to-Face AIDS and Goldring, Cunkelman is compiling photos and videos of the people in Malawi. The documentary will be released at the end of the academic school year.
"I wanted to do an independent study in documentary film-making and I know this is a great story," he said. "I think it's important to educate people about healthcare and how fortunate we are in a place like this, and how there's a huge discrepancy around the world. Everyone should have access to healthcare and a good education, so any way we can help people have access to basic rights is a great thing."
Goldring took time off from college during the 2007-2008 school year in order to devote more time to LuziCare. He returned to Malawi this past summer to follow up on the project.
"The purpose of LuziCare at Colby is two-fold," Goldring said. "One is improving access to healthcare in communities in rural Africa, and the second purpose is educating people."
Ezor cites the response from the Class of 2013 as one of the main reasons he expects LuziCare will flourish this year. Hilary Neff '13, will spend JanPlan in Malawi helping with Luzi Orphan Care.
"One of the most incredible things this year has been the support for this project we've gotten from the freshman class," he said. "We have more representation from the freshmen at the weekly meetings than we do from any other class. At speed dating, the majority of people who showed up were also freshmen. It means people will be around [in coming years] who are enthusiastic about the project."
Georgie Hurst '13 joined LuziCare because of her combined interest in African culture and community service.
"I have a strong interest in Africa and after college I hope to do some public service work in Africa," she said. "The most important thing is not just to be involved but to become invested in the project itself."
Hurst spent three weeks during the summer of 2007 building classrooms and restoring a school in Tanzania and hopes to eventually return to Africa to continue volunteering.
"It kind of exposed me to the African culture and I realized how much I loved it, and I've always been interested in community service, so it showed me where I wanted to help."
Goldring hopes LuziCare will make its way onto other college campuses in the near future.
"We know that poverty exists in the third world, but what does that mean? It means millions of people will lack the most basic needs, and that means access to healthcare, and we'd like to educate people about that [and] to make advocates of Colby students and others," he said.