S.O.G.H. Swedish Organization for Global Health
Text by Sibel Ilter / Photos by Anna Vidina
The profound adherence to caffeine among students and staff of the Karolinska Institute is not a myth and – for that very special group of coffee fanatics who are yet to find out – neither is the chatter of the freshly brewed KI hour, the “Coffee Hour.”
S.O.G.H. have directed their focus toward the Sub-Saharan countries of the African continent.
In fact, the Coffee Hour is known as one of the more effective methods of allurement among the different KI societies. On several occasions throughout the year we have witnessed Coffee Hours hosted by both international and smaller KI communities, events which have resulted in visits by a satisfactory number of students. As of recently, however, a new particular organization has been registered on that list. Every Wednesday between eleven and one o’clock, Karolinska students of the Swedish Organization for Global Health reside in the entrance of the Solna school library to arrange their own adaption of the Coffee Hour. Their purpose? Distributing free coffee. The ambition behind this purpose?
The Maama project.
As of summer 2014, members of the Swedish Organization for Global Health, S.O.G.H for short, have directed their focus toward the Sub-Saharan countries of the African continent. The donations raised from the Coffee Hours here in the Northern part of the world is done to fund the progression of the described Maama project, a special charity program unfolding on lands four-thousand miles further South. In return for the donations, the Maama project primarily sees that expectant Ugandan mothers are gifted with the commonly-named “birth kit”. The birth kit contains the supplement of essential material to promote safe and hygienic delivery. In relation to infections, a consistent implement of hygiene measures is imperative, which leads us to the second goal of the Maama project – increasing the antenatal care. The antenatal attendance serves an essential role in raising awareness of maternal and new-born health, pregnancy danger signs, and also assists in detecting HIV. In order to enhance the antenatal attendance amongst Ugandan mothers, the Maama project ensures that the birth kit is offered to the mothers after their last visit of antenatal care.
It is seldom that the impact a few coins could have across the world goes noticed by casual by-passers and students.
It is seldom that the impact a few coins could have across the world goes noticed by casual by-passers and students. To catch their interest, one must first have their attention – hence the coffee, the S.O.G.H members seem to say.
For having started only the previous fall semester, the S.O.G.H have managed to organize a numerous amount of Coffee-Hour events in the booked library spot by the entrance, and have intentions to continue with these reoccurring hours, every Wednesday, throughout the rest of the spring semester. Once the cradle of science and knowledge, the S.O.G.H transform a corner of the library into a small, flexible event. During lunch, there is a constant presence of students in the library. Sometimes, students mold into groups, some eager to have a coffee, some eager to have a cookie, and others both. Eventually, as rush-hour wears on, the afternoon lectures start and the herds lessen, leaving room for chitchat between S.O.G.H members and two or three curious students, eager to know more about the organization.
Of course, there is more.
In a few short months, KI students will be finishing off their final examinations for the spring semester. For most, what comes after that is a long summer of reoccurring visits to the beach and flaky skin. For a selected number of KI students, however, this summer means closing the four-thousand miles long gap between Sweden and Uganda. While some of these members will proceed into evaluating the progression of the Maama project in the respective project areas, others will be working alongside nurses and doctors in clinics and hospitals, most of which are medical students. For some of these medical students, this will be their first encounter with patients in a hospital environment.
At one o’clock, the S.O.G.H members proceed to pack up and dump any remnants from their weekly event. At two o’clock on those Wednesdays there are no traces left of the S.O.G.H group except the distinct smell of coffee which seems to linger on for a little longer.
The Swedish Organization for Global Health was founded summer 2014 by students from the Karolinska Institutet. Today they work as a non-profit organization alongside their partners of other NGOs in low-income countries, expanding and establishing old and new projects. In Rwanda, for example, the implementation of a sexual heallth education program is under progession. The program will train Rwandan university students and educators in matters of sexual and reproductive health and contraceptives. A partnership with the Health Development Inititiative has allowed them to expand their Rwandan project into teaching about the topic and similar issues in secondary schools of more rural areas of Rwanda where STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and teenage pregnancies are high in prevalence.
More information about the different projects can be found on www.sogh.se