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ANTRIM

Student looks to make a difference

Pre-med UNH senior fundraising for medical service trip to central Ghana

  • Local stores such as Steele's Stationers in Peterborough are assisting Abby Lawrence of Antrim in raising funds spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Local stores such as Steele's Stationers in Peterborough are assisting Abby Lawrence of Antrim in raising funds spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Local stores such as Steele's Stationers in Peterborough are assisting Abby Lawrence of Antrim in raising funds spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Abby Lawrence of Antrim is raising funds to be able to spend her winter break in Ghana with the Global Medical Brigade, a national organization that will provide a short-term medical clinic to the area.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

For her winter break this year, Abby Lawrence of Antrim will be taking her first trip out of the country with a group of fellow University of New Hampshire students. But it’s not a pleasure trip. The students will be traveling to central Ghana to assist with setting up a short-term clinic that will provide some much-needed medical aid to the area. First, though, she needs to gather the funds to get there.

Lawrence has been interested in science and biology since she took her first anatomy and physiology class at ConVal High School, but it wasn’t until she entered college in 2010 that she decided she wanted to be a doctor, she said in an interview Monday. She entered college undecided, but with a focus in health and human services. Shortly into her first semester, she knew she wanted to major in biomedical science, a pre-med specialty, and that being a doctor was the right path for her.

“I knew I wanted to do something with people,” Lawrence said. “And after about two months of classes, I decided I’m going to do it, I’m going to commit.”

After discussing options for gaining experience in the field of medicine with her advisor, Lawrence decided her first real taste of the medical profession should be somewhere that her efforts could really make a difference. She, along with 15 to 20 other University of New Hampshire students, will be traveling, beginning Jan. 10, with the national Global Medical Brigade to administer a 10-day clinic in Ghana. Global Brigades help to provide services in rural communities with limited access to health care and services, allowing the people to consult doctors and dentists, fill prescriptions and sit in on health lectures. The students coordinate the trip, find medical professionals willing to donate their time, and raise both the money to fund their own trip and to pay for the medicines they will be distributing.

“I’ve never traveled before, and I’ve never left the country. I thought it would be neat to get out of the country and see what else is out there,” said Lawrence. “I also, I just really think it’s important to help people in this kind of situation. It’s a really good start to what I want to be doing. Who knows, maybe this will make me realize that when I get into medicine I want to travel all over the world.”

Lawrence has been making local efforts to raise the $2,500 she needs to go on the trip this summer, she said. And the community has rallied around her, with several stores offering to put out collection jars to assist her in reaching her goal. Steele’s Stationers, Anytime Apparel, Roy’s and Joseph’s Coat, all in Peterborough, have jars on their counter for Lawrence, and Steele’s owners Bill and Liz Little have put up a window display detailing Lawrence’s goal. When Lawrence returns to University of New Hampshire as a senior, she will also become involved in a serious push by the students to collect the funds to supply the clinic during their stay in Ghana. Their ultimate goal is to raise $75,000, with about $10,000 raised so far. The group will also begin to approach medical professionals to secure their services during the trip.

“I think it will absolutely be a life-changing experience, something that I’ve never done before,” Lawrence said of the trip. “And it’s really important to help people not as fortunate as us have access to a hospital. It’s important to help people that don’t have the same advantages as we do.”

The UNH chapter of Global Brigades works to benefit communities in Honduras and Panama as well as Ghana. Each community receives a brigade every three to four months. In addition to providing care for hundreds of patients during their clinics, the groups also collect electronic patient records, which assists with future visitations and helps monitor the overall health in the communities assisted.

As a student, Lawrence will be assisting with the intake of patients, shadowing doctors, helping to pack and distribute medicines and assisting with the pharmacy.

To help Lawrence reach her personal fundraising goal, donations can be made at the various Peterborough stores mentioned above. To make a donation to the project’s $75,000 goal, see www.empowered.org/Medical-Brigades-of-New-Hampshire.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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