The power of collaboration: uniting communities for sustainable action

Northwestern global health minor Elizabeth Larsen traveled to Uganda this summer to attend GlobeMed’s East Africa Forum in Kampala. For the Global Health Portal she writes about the power of collaboration and the theme from the Forum: Uniting Communities for Sustainable Action.


“No one person, no one alliance, no one nation, no one of us is as smart as all of us thinking together.” – James Stavridis

Group photoThis idea, the idea of the untapped and immeasurable potential in unity, was the common thread weaving together my experience at the inaugural 2013 GlobeMed East Africa Forum.

I remember the inception of this conference, sitting around a table with my coworkers, scribbling ideas and phrases onto Post It notes that would come together to form a theme that would guide the entire weekend. This theme, Uniting Communities for Sustainable Action, was clearly visible throughout the conference, as grassroots leaders, students, and supporters traveled hundreds of miles to convene in Kampala, Uganda. As Brian Hanson, Northwestern professor and Chair of the GlobeMed Board of Directors, remarked during the weekend, “We believe in individuals and communities coming together to instigate change,” and the East Africa Forum was a true testament to this.

The chance to unite the GlobeMed network – a global family of people, united by a the power of human relationships and a shared vision of health for all – in one space to discuss, debate, and grapple with new ideas was an unparalleled opportunity to shine the spotlight on the voices of our partners, the people who work day in and day out making our dream of global health equity into a reality. Combined with the voices of students, speakers, and supporters, the result was a unique and meaningful dialogue on the successes and challenges in the field of not only global health, but of human rights and international development in general.

Delegates at the forumAs we continually heard throughout the weekend, collaboration is crucial to the success of our projects, partnerships, network, and really, the world as a whole. We all are well aware that this vision cannot be achieved alone.  Time and time again, we have seen that walking together will take us infinitely further than walking alone.

The 2013 GlobeMed East Africa Forum was an important step in showing the world the power of collaboration, not just between select individuals or certain stakeholders, but rather between people from all walks of lives, from countries all over the globe, from diverse fields, and with different ideas about how our common vision may be achieved.

We started the GlobeMed East Africa Forum as a group of students, partners, and supporters with a shared vision for a better future, and we walked away as a family, bursting with new ideas, knowledge, and friendships that will ignite our work in the years to come. Here’s to the people of East Africa that I’ll never forget.

For more quotes, photos, and videos, as well as a rundown of the speakers and panelists, check out the Highlights from the 2013 GlobeMed East Africa Forum Storify at .

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