Colleen Bell ’14 pioneers global health awareness at Whitman
Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012
Colleen Bell ’14
Colleen Bell wants your spare change.
Bell is the founder and co-president of Whitman’s chapter of GlobeMed , a student-based, grassroots organization operating on college campuses across the country. GlobeMed supports local charities that are geared towards global health.
Under Bell’s leadership, Whitman’s chapter of GlobeMed focuses on reproductive health, and is launching a campaign to raise money and awareness for its partner organization, the Burmese Women’s Union (BWU), a political empowerment program that works with refugees who have fled conflict in Burma (Myanmar) to neighboring Thailand.
One element of the campaign is called the Coin War, which involves competitive fundraising. Students in Whitman’s residence halls will compete by dropping spare change into containers placed in a communal location in each residence hall.
“Students should really consider dropping their spare change into the jars,” Bell said. “This is empowerment on such an important level, and our dollar goes quite far in Thailand, giving us the great opportunity to impact a community.”
Along with Bell, Rachel Palfini ’15 is helping to organize the Coin War, which takes place April 2-13.
“I joined GlobeMed because I’m interested in global health issues, specifically concerning women, and the role non-profits play in helping to alleviate problems,” Palifini said.
Bell and her club members are organizing other fundraisers, including a Frisbee® tournament and a “Hike for Burma,” intended to symbolize Burmese refugees’ hike into refugee camps in bordering countries.
Bell and Palfini hope these student-run activities will help Whitman students explore and support women’s global health issues and spread awareness about BWU, which focuses primarily on creating internship and education programs that strive to increase the agency of women.
Whitman’s sister unit is located in Thailand and is run by two sisters who are Burmese refugees.
“I get so excited thinking about our partner organization in Thailand and all that we have to learn from them,” Bell said. “I hope because of our efforts Whitman as a whole will be more educated about Burma and want to be a part of our group.”
— By Elizabeth Cole ’15