What better person to bring light than the student doctor? While it may seem like a small gesture, a light in the night’s darkness is a life changing event; young students can read, parents can work and families can share… all in the light rather than in the dark. This is more than just a bulb. The gift of light teaches the medical student to look beyond the algorism…to look at the quality of life of their global patients, to understand how they live and to understand the cultural concept of giving and receiving and to feel appreciation which transcends culture…and to feel it with the personal modesty and humility the culture demands. This is the beginning of the practice of the art of medicine.
Global medicine is a fascinating voyage that gives us all the opportunity to comprehend the patient, the village, the family, the spread of illness, the response to sickness, the joy of wellness and the resiliency and determination of survival. The student is placed in the giant framework of a culture’s own medicine, a fabric woven from the glorious achievements of the shaman and wonderful cultural wisdoms and ideals and myths. We come as the foreigner. But we come with our own high professional quality, a kind heart, and high ideals bearing a small solar lamp which evaporates the darkness of the night.
About Dr. Fred Mandell and his contribution
(Written by Leah Moody, Global Health Program Coordinator at Western Connecticut Health Network/Robert Larner College of Medicine)
Dr. Fred Mandell is a 1964 medical alumnus of The University of Vermont (UVM) and current President of the UVM Medical Alumni Association. He recently donated fifty solar powered flashlights to the African Community Center for Social Sustainability (ACCESS) in Nakaseke, Uganda, one of the UVM/Western Connecticut Health Network Global Health Program elective host sites. Each flashlight provides ten hours of light, and will be distributed to community members including pre-school program attendees, orphans, and nursing students.
Providing light to individuals who live in electricity-scare areas will enable them to do schoolwork, study and read beyond the hours of natural daylight. Dr. Robert Kalyesubula, Founder of ACCESS, will be conducting a research study to measure the benefits, challenges, and impact of the solar flashlights, and provide insight into how their role within rural communities can be maximized. UVM medical students completing rotations in Nakaseke will be actively involved in conducting interviews with flashlight recipients and collecting biometrics and other data for the research study.
The program extends special thanks to Dr. Mandell for his passion for global health and generous contribution to advance education and health in Uganda. This passage by Dr. Mandell captures the value of light in enabling education, a concept that is often taken for granted by those who have never experienced a scarcity of electricity.