Emma Lawrence demonstrates a strong commitment to community service and has taken dedicated action to promote equality of international healthcare. Her commitment to engage fellow young people in public service began in middle school when she held benefit carnivals and bake sales to raise money for local charities. In high school, Emma founded International Volunteer Club (IVC), raising more than $5000 through student-led bake sales, silent auctions, and benefit dinners. Through IVC, Emma and another student spent the summer in San Carlos, Costa Rica volunteering in a school for mentally and physically handicapped children. Her efforts as an undergraduate student have reached far beyond the campus community, engaging other students and community members in a larger global perspective on social justice.
In the summer of 2006, Emma spent two months in Kumasi, Ghana, volunteering in an orphanage, teaching English in a primary school, and completing outreach medical work. At Kumasi’s local schools and orphanages, she witnessed countless children whose families lacked the knowledge and finances to acquire basic medical supplies and provide simple first aid treatment.
Frustrated by this severe inequality in international health care, Emma Co-founded Project HEAL, a 501©3 public health initiative based in Ghana, West Africa. Project HEAL aims to provide the fundamental knowledge and supplies needed to prevent basic infections and related health problems. Through Project HEAL, Emma works with other University of North Carolina students to provide individual kits of basic medical supplies, and hold school and community-based health education workshops.
Emma has dedicated herself fully to the development of Project HEAL. Her energy, passion and determination were instrumental in leading a successful month-long service trip in Ghana. At each workshop site, Project HEAL collaborated with a community leader or local health official, who provided translation from English to the local language. With local sustainability in mind, Project HEAL worked to empower these community leaders with the resources, support and supplies necessary to carry out community-directed services. With a focus on families who lacked the resources and knowledge to acquire basic medical supplies, Project HEAL distributed 750 kits of first aid supplies, and reached over 3000 individuals with their school and community-based workshops.
Emma is fully committed to engaging additional students in Project HEAL’s fundraising, awareness and advocacy efforts. Currently, she is exploring project sustainability options through service-learning initiatives and social activism organizations at UNC. In order to build community relationships and promote campus involvement, Project HEAL has become a “special project” of the UNC Campus Y. This summer, Emma is leading two, month-long service trips, with six UNC students participating in each trip.