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WKU students participate in their water brigade by digging trenches that provide clean, quick drinking water in Nicaragua.

The WKU Global Brigades chapter gained momentum after 27 students provided medical care, health education and water systems while visiting Nicaragua last month.

Global Brigades is a completely student-led international nonprofit organization. It utilizes volunteerism to provide medical and economic help to communities in Honduras, Panama, Ghana and Nicaragua, according to its website.

The WKU students spent over a week in Nicaragua. One of those students was Sam Fugate, who is the current co-president of the chapter. He said they worked for three days in a medical clinic, two days building sanitation stations and one day with "water brigade," which focused on digging trenches to provide clean drinking water.

"I can fully contribute my absolute decision to pursue medicine to it," Fugate said.

The students not only provided care while abroad, but also educated citizens on how to continue to care for themselves.

"The most important part of a brigade is education because you're providing them with the knowledge they need to sustain themselves as a community," Caleb Fulkerson, vice-president of the chapter, said. "Providing them with that knowledge is the best gift that a human can give."

While students from various disciplines participated, Merry Krueger, founder of the WKU Global Brigades chapter, expressed the program's benefit to pre-professional students.

"It's really great for pre-med, pre-dent and pre-pharmacy students because you get to have hands-on interaction with doctors, patients and pharmacists," Krueger said. "We ended up seeing almost 1,400 people."

Krueger also spoke about the logistics of the program.

"We get to chart our direction of where we want to take the organization in the next couple of years," she said. "We organize all our own fundraising. So it's really more than just getting pre-professional experience ... you're getting leadership experience, you're dealing with financial issues, and really taking charge. What you put into it is what you get out of it."