A UNB Saint John student is seeking funding from the university for the Global Brigades organization.
Global Brigades is an organization that enables students to travel from Canada to various developing countries in order to provide public health and water services. While several clubs and societies will receive a portion of student tuition dollars to fund their efforts, Global Brigades is one that does not actively receive funding.
Arfan Hajizadeh is a former co-president of Global Brigades and a student at UNB Saint John. He is actively involved in travelling to places like Honduras and Nicaragua to provide the essential services Global Brigades sets off to accomplish.
“Since this is a student led organization, it is hard to get students to travel down and assist as money can be an issue. Flights and brigade fees [are] affordable for some, but not for all,” Hajizadeh says. This is an issue, as the expenses may currently be hindering dedicated students who wish to become a part of the initiative from doing so.
Hajizadeh makes it clear that these trips are not possible without help and emphasizes that funding from UNB Saint John could be very beneficial to the program and all of the people that they help as a result.
“[Active support] from the university would benefit us greatly [in funding] these worthy projects,” he explains. “This year we hope to exceed the number [of UNB Saint John student participants from 2016], and hope that the university will support us in any way possible.”
Despite being involved with UNB for a number of years, this is the first year that UNB Fredericton has provided funding for Global Brigades. UNB Saint John has yet to do so.
Mount Allison University provides funding for their Global Brigades chapter in Sackville and UNB’s group hopes for a similar lasting relationship.
However, Mount Allison’s funding has not come without questions.
Debates about issues of ‘voluntourism’ surrounding these organizations have sparked questions of ethics, and in the past students have been concerned about the overarching benefits of Global Brigades and similar organizations.
Global Brigades, which recently became a registered charity, has many chapters at universities all over the world. UNB’s chapter began operating in 2012 with Saint John joining in last year.
UNB’s Global Brigade team went on a water brigade to Honduras in 2016, where students from both Fredericton and Saint John’s campuses helped build a water system for a community that was much needed due to their lack of proper clean water.
Hajizadeh is very confident in the year ahead for Global Brigades at UNB, stating that their goal, “is to make it a part of the UNB family for many years to come.”
“We want this organization to be a part of students lives and to help give people the opportunity to assist with such a worthwhile cause and, more importantly, with this global movement.”