In Solidarity

Post by Breeanna Lorenzen

When I was first applying to global health fellowships, I ran into the e-mail sign off  “In Solidarity.” This confused me. I was working in a hospital in Berkeley, CA and this was a director of an NGO serving an impoverished community in Mali. We had never met and we did not know each other. How could we be in solidarity? What does it mean to be in solidarity with another?

Although I may still not be able to define it clearly in words, I felt what this statement means last November. I was in a village in Tororo, Eastern Uganda, helping out a fellow Global Health Corps colleague with her 16 Days of Activism project. The day long event was held in an opening next to the health center where 600 people came to share their stories, participate in dramas, get counseling and testing for HIV, and hear speakers talk of the repercussions of gender based violence.

The first event was a march across the village to bring awareness of the program. There were women carrying signs that read “peace in the world starts with peace at home” and “you are not alone.” They marched behind a band followed by giggling children. Being in the middle of this group, walking side by side with men and women who were standing up against gender based violence in their community, I felt “in solidarity” with them. I am American, I have a completely different background, yet in that moment we were united. I work in Western Uganda where there is a different tribe, a different language spoken, the landscape is different, and yet I was able to march alongside because my community fought for the same vision. In solidarity is thus a strong connection, knowledge that we share the same goals, the same want to see people’s lives improved, the same humanity.

A week later we had a similar event in the refugee settlement where I work. There again I felt this connection as we came together, staff from all over Uganda, refugees from different countries in Africa, and different organizations to celebrate the advancement of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Every time I get together with my GHC co-fellows to discuss our struggles and our place in the world, it is a microcosm of this global solidarity; I learn from an incredible group of diverse, caring human beings.

In conclusion the world is big, the challenges are many, but we are never alone in our journey for we are “in solidarity” with one another.