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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

BUILD enters third year of service

BUILD
Photo By: Morgan Engel
BUILD

Cargo pods outfitted as medical clinics will soon serve at-need communities across the world, thanks to BUILD’s third year of operation. 

The General Services Complex is currently serving as the student body’s staging ground to convert cargo containers into medical units that can provide services up to minor surgeries. BUILD — a student-run organization — is in its second year of building medical units. It will provide four pods to at-need communities around the world this year, and one will head to Greece to serve refugees from the war in Syria.  

The project is part of BUILD’s three-year plan to place 12 clinics in 12 countries. BUILD made the decision last year to build 12 clinics to honor the 12 fallen Aggies who died in the Bonfire Collapse of 1999, and proposed a goal of four clinics built every year for three years. Last year, four pods were successfully built and delivered to communities in Haiti, Honduras, Bolivia and Columbia. 

In partnership with Medical Bridges and My Little Patient, 

BUILD works with nonprofits in countries to find out which ones are in most need and which have the adequate resources. This year, BUILD will send the medical pods to Kenya, Haiti, Honduras and Greece.

     BUILD’s plan to deliver one of the pods to Greece has special significance due to the refugee crisis that Greece is currently struggling with as a result of the war in Syria. Cal Johnson, chief executive officer of BUILD and marketing senior, said sending pods to Greece is a testament to BUILD’s goal to make a difference through service.

“To me the importance of having a clinic sent to help the Syrian refugees is that they are human,” Johnson said. “As Aggies, we are called to serve our community, however you choose to define it geographically. We aren’t supposed to sit by and watch people suffer, when we have the capabilities to make a difference right now.”

Ryan Crocker, dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service and former United States ambassador to Syria, signed a letter sent to President Obama last month to persuade the White House to allow 100,000 Syrian refugees into the United States. Crocker said he hopes BUILD’s project will be a part of a national response to help the refugees.

“It is wonderful that a Texas A&M organization is stepping up concretely to help refugees where they need it most, which is right now in Greece, where they are just coming over from Turkey under conditions of extraordinary danger and hardship,” Crocker said. “This is the kind of thing that Texas A&M is all about — service and support for those in need. And no one is in greater need than these refugees.”

 The clinics will resemble miniature hospitals and can support everything up to minor surgeries. Johnson said the primary need in Greece is for medical facilities that doctors from the international community can operate out of to help the refugees.

“In short, [the refugees’] medical needs are the same as ours,” Johnson said. “They get sick, they have injuries, etc. The sad thing is most Greek hospitals won’t see them because of the turmoil in that country, and that they aren’t Greek citizens.”

Construction of the pods, which are built on campus with materials acquired through fundraising or donations, began at the beginning of the semester at the General Services Complex. The pods will be shipped off in November after a pit stop in Houston where the pods will be stocked with $90,000 in medical supplies.

Kenya was selected as a location for a pod by the Christ United Methodist Church, and the pods in Haiti and Honduras were chosen by non-governmental organizations affiliated with Medical Bridges, said Johnson.

Mackenzie Walsh, chief operating officer of BUILD and civil engineering senior, said once the pods are shipped to their respective locations, they have to be constantly re-stocked and staffed by doctors.

“So it’s definitely finding the right people to take the clinics once they’re done,” Walsh said. “That’s what Medical Bridges and My Little Patient do so well — they find us those people and last year it was two in Guatemala, and one in Haiti, and one in Honduras.”

Any A&M student who is interested in volunteering for BUILD can visit buildtamu.com/volunteer.

“Any student at A&M can come out here no matter what organization they’re affiliated with — they are able to come out and build whatever around their class schedule,” Johnson said.

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