Members of the DeSales University chapter of the Christian Medical & Dental Association (CMDA) will be traveling to El Salvador over spring break to provide medical care to those in need.
Nani Cuadrado, assistant professor in the physician assistant program, will be heading to the Central American nation along with Cat Rojas, a local sex-trafficking survivor who volunteers at Valley Against Sex Trafficking (VAST) alongside Cuadrado, and Georgina Van Norden, a biology major at DeSales.
“I go because it's therapy for me personally,” says Cuadrado. “It reminds me why I became a PA — to work in underserved areas.” She went to El Salvador last year and will be working with the same medical team this time around. They’ll be providing basic medical care and dental care just outside of San Salvador, the capital city. Team members come from all over the United States and contribute in a variety of ways, so medical experience is not required.
Cuadrado helped found the DeSales chapter of CMDA three years ago. It’s the first chapter in the northeast division to be established by physician assistant and nursing students rather than being associated with a medical school. “It's a way to connect students that have an interest in medicine and dentistry and have a heart for God,” she says.
The organization is also hosting a fundraiser to help victims of human trafficking in countries like El Salvador and Mozambique. It’s collecting gently used bras and donations in collaboration with Free the Girls, an international non-profit organization that helps women rescued from trafficking in developing countries rebuild their lives by selling bras in secondhand clothing markets.
“In general in the U.S., the secondhand clothing market is not very profitable,” says Cuadrado. “Abroad, American stuff is so valued. Intimate clothing like bras are really hard to find. So women pay a decent amount of money to have a pretty, colorful bra that is from America.”
The idea for the Bra & A Buck Drive initially came from Rojas. She had heard of organizations that collect bras to help trafficking survivors. After some digging, she and Cuadrado discovered Free the Girls. Things fell into place from there.
“You can't make that stuff up,” says Cuadrado. “When we saw that they actually send them to El Salvador, we got really excited. We already were planning on going. The drive is something that just kind of connected all three groups together.”
Rojas and VAST are also working to collect donations. While she and Cuadrado are in El Salvador, there’s a chance that they could meet up with a Free the Girls team on the ground and learn more about how the organization is helping victims of trafficking build a better life.
Cuadrado is hoping to collect $1,000 and 1,000 bras. The money will help defray shipping costs. Students, faculty, and administrators have all started donating. A student in the PA program also spread the word to sororities at Muhlenberg College. Even Cuadrado’s mother is collecting bras from her bible study. “It's infectious in a good way,” she says.
The Bra & A Buck Drive runs through March 3 at 5:00 p.m. You can drop off gently used bras and donations Tuesday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., outside Cuadrado’s office (room 105) in the Gambet Center.
Or to donate online, visit here.
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