By Anna Bess Pavlakovich
Tyler Igoe, a sophomore transfer student from Champagne, Illinois, noticed a void in the University of Mississippi campus when he made his transition from Vanderbilt University.
“At Vanderbilt, they had Global Brigades,” Igoe said. “It just seemed like a really good organization, and I’ve always been interested in helping people who are less fortunate than me. Global Brigades goes about it in a very sustainable, holistic and intelligent way. So, I thought it was definitely something worth starting at Ole Miss.”
The international organization is comprised of teams of workers called brigades that work in medical, water, public health, dental, engineering and business.
Igoe founded the UM club and served as president this year, heading most of the club’s activities, including their mission trip to Honduras during spring break.
“I was the main source of communication between Global Brigades executives and our students,” Igoe said. “I planned the trip — when and where we were going to go. I recruited people to go on the trip, then I served as the Brigade Leader on the trip.”
Although Global Brigades conducts brigades in several countries, Igoe saw Honduras as the best destination for the Ole Miss Global Brigades’s first trip.
“Global Brigades works with several countries, but the most communities are in Honduras, and therefore they need more brigades,” Igoe said. “It’s also one of the countries with the most needs. It’s in really bad shape.”
Igoe said Honduras is the one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and there are only 9,000 doctors for the country’s 9 million citizens. Igoe said 60 to 70 percent of doctors are not licensed. Global Brigades has been in Honduras for the past 14 years, making it easier for a new brigade group to learn the process.
The team had to raise thousands of dollars and participate in medical Spanish vocabulary training. Igoe called the trip “perspective broadening.” “I went down there with pretty high expectations, and the absolute poverty just blew me away,” he said.
Sarah Clancy, a UM junior, served as travel chair for the chapter’s executive board. She received an email from Igoe about the program and became involved.
“I really love service, especially abroad in other countries,” Clancy said. “I feel like, with this organization, we use more of a holistic model and did a wider range of volunteer activities, really helping enrich the communities in Honduras, compared to something like Med Life, which focuses strictly on medicine.”
Although the majority of UM students spent their break relaxing at the beach or spending time at home, both Igoe and Clancy felt time and energy in Honduras was a better alternative.
“Anyone can go to the beach, but not everyone can sit there and make a change in somebody else’s life in a different country,” Clancy said.
Igoe agreed. “I’ve had those spring breaks [at the beach], and I would pick this over that 10 times out of 10,” he said. “There is a lot of build up, and it’s the harder route, but at the end of the day, and the end of the week, you feel like a much better person. I’m the best version of myself when I’m on brigade.”
Clancy encourages others to get involved. “It was a wonderful experience,” Clancy said. “It’s not just for premed students interested in medicine. They also do stuff in other areas, like business and engineering. We had elementary education majors on the trip with us, and they even had a great experience. I would definitely recommend it.”