Service: January 2011 Archives

Students Help Save Mothers in India

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By Lynda Lopez. News and Public Affairs Intern

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed his long debated health care bill into law, but it still remains an issue of controversy among concerned Americans.

While the United States deals with its own share of health care issues, there is another world of health concerns on the other side of the world and some inquisitive University of Chicago students in a new student group have taken notice.

The Global Affairs Leadership Society (GALS) became a Registered Student Organization (RSO) in the fifth week of the first quarter. The basic premise behind the group is to provide a place where students can discuss issues of conflict within women's rights in the Western and in the developing world. Not only do they seek to talk about these important issues, they also want to take an active role in combatting them.

"So many people spend their time talking about important issues, but spend no time doing anything about it," says Molly Cunningham, a GALS board member and 2nd year in the College, "GALS is 'doing' rather than just talking."

One of the first issues the group has sets its eyes on is the high maternal mortality rate in India. According to, over 160 women in India die each day due to problems from pregnancy and complications in childbirth, over 50 times higher than the rate in the United States. Statistics and concerns such as these spurred the members of GALS to become involved with Save A Mother, which is a local organization that is working to reduce the maternal mortality rate in India by educating villagers regarding better ways to maintain good health while in pregnancy. Eventually, these educated villagers become health activists in each of their villages.

Hoping to learn more about this organization, GALS held a special event at the Center for Gender Studies on January 10th. Dr. Shiban Ganju, founder and chief volunteer of Save A Mother, visited the university in order to talk further about the organization's work and to inspire the group to further the organization's cause.

Cunningham says that his visit definitely motivated the group. "After hearing him speak, we felt that we could truly change the world," she says.

Throughout the upcoming quarter, GALS is going to work on strengthening its relationship with Save A Mother and continue furthering the organization's cause.

Besides their work with Save A Mother, GALS has also been thinking of unique ways in which to spread the word about their unique RSO. Since their inception as a RSO, they have carried out a series of social experiments intended to gain insight into the issue of women's rights. One of the first and most interesting social experiments was implemented at the end of last quarter. Each of the members of GALS changed their Facebook status to "people like people who like women's rights."

"Our generation is constantly checking their emails, phones, and Facebook, so we knew we should take advantage of this connectivity," says Cunningham. "This social experiment gave us further insight into the thoughts of men regarding women's rights."

Cunningham says that she received many playful, silly comments on her status that day, which, she says, indicates the unclear role that women's rights tends to have in society. What does it truly mean to have rights as a woman? GALS plans to continue its social media experiment throughout the quarter in order to further explore this question and many more.

Despite all of the different endeavors that GALS is working towards, including a conference on women's rights, all of these activities have an underlying theme: Education.

"Ignorance kills even the best of ideas," says Cunningham. "We are hoping to raise awareness about important issues and even if the students we talk to don't get involved, it is still a better world because we opened their eyes a little more."

UCSC accepts story submissions from contributing writers that take a timely national issue and examine it in the local perspective. To join the pool, or learn more, visit

By Lynda Lopez, News and Public Affairs Intern for UCSC

The winter quarter has officially gotten underway, which means another 10 weeks of dedication, hard work, and discovery in everyone's academic lives. Even though the quarter represents the return to academic normality, it does not have to mean a return to the same day to day routines of campus life.

Before planning out your entire winter schedule for involvement on campus, make sure to ask yourself some important questions. Am I getting to know the city of Chicago? Am I doing something that I feel passionate about? Are the groups on campus fulfilling all my needs/expectations? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, then it may be time for you to branch out into the city as a whole and get involved with an organization not necessarily on campus.

It can often be difficult to leave the UChicago campus because of homework and transportation expenses, but getting involved in an organization off campus may prove to be a much needed booster to your academic confidence. Reaching out to new horizons allows you to truly gauge your ability as a person and a student. Besides, getting involved does not mean that you are becoming an employee at this specific organization. It simply means that you may start to volunteer once or twice a week on a weekday or weekend, depending on your availability.

The city of Chicago is a vast place with endless resources for college students. From environmental activism to anti-violence prevention, there are a myriad of opportunities for students to get involved.

In order to facilitate your search around the city of Chicago, the UCSC has compiled an easy reference list of some great non-profits around the city. There are different non-profits listed under each side of the city with a brief description of what each does, which can also be found on each of their websites.


Beyondmedia Education
Beyondmedia Education is an organization that collaborates with under-served and under-represented women, youth and communities to tell their stories, connect their stories to the world as a whole, and organize for social justice through the creation and distribution of media arts.

Center on Halsted

The Center on Halsted serves as a place where the LGBT community can find a safe and nurturing environment. It provides community resources and other social services for youth and adults.


Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization is a place where students and other activists come together and discuss issues pertaining to the condition of the environment in the city, specifically the Little Village community. The organization has a reputation of being at the forefront of the environmental movement and is well-respected across the city.

Latinos Progresandos
Latinos Progresando was founded in 1998 to address the lack of high-quality, accessible community resources in Little Village. The organization is uniquely attuned to the specific needs of the communities Little Village and Pilsen. Some services offered include immigration services and theater programs for young men and women.


Erie Neighborhood House
Erie Neighborhood House is committed to empowering Latinos and diverse low-income communities to reach their fullest potential with a range of educational programs for all ages. Their mission is to promote and just society by providing low income families with the tools for a better future.

Homan Square Community Center
The Homan Square Community Center is for every resident of North Lawndale and Chicago's West Side. The programs and services offered are designed to meet the needs and wishes of the community.


Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to equal participation in the life of our society. It also aims to raise awareness about immigrant issues to the general public in order to encourage further participation in the important immigration movement.

Dreams for Kids
Dreams for Kids is a volunteer based, registered non-profit children's charity that breaks down social barriers and end the isolation of at-risk youth. Dreams for Kids is empowering youth who live in poverty and those with disabilities, by uniting them with their peers, recognizing their abilities, and allowing their voices to be heard. The most isolated young people from every community are reminded they have something to give, and they are the solution- not the problem.

The Chicago Project HEALTH site is pleased to announce our name change to Health Leads.

Health Leads is still a national organization (and University of Chicago RSO), and we remain committed as ever to alleviating the factors of poor health in our communities. Over 90 UChicago student volunteers work with patients at 4 area health centers across the South Side to help them obtain food, safe housing, employment, child care, and more. Last year over 5,000 families were aided by Health Leads volunteers. It's a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in medicine, public policy, public health, or community involvement. We'd love to have you join our team!

If you're interested in applying, please visit our website at to view and complete the Chicago application (Go to "Get Involved-->Volunteer"). The applications are due Thursday, January 13 at 10pm.

We are also hosting 3 information sessions during first and second weeks to give an overview of our program, go over details of the application process, and share volunteer stories of time spent with Project HEALTH.

Info Session Dates:

Thursday, Jan 6 @ 6:00 pm, Harper 145
Monday, Jan 10 @ 7:00pm, Harper 141
Tuesday, Jan 11 @ 6:30pm, Harper 135