By: Adriana Brown, communications intern for the American Red Cross of Indiana
Fort Wayne is the largest site of Burmese refugees outside of Los Angeles. A large community many Fort Wayne residents, as well as people across the state, might not know. Many in the Burmese community suffer from specific health problems that are not being addressed and resolved.
Two Purdue Fort Wayne (PFW) seniors, Panashe Chakabva and Malaika Ahmed, recognized the health disparity and wanted to connect the community to health resources. Chakabva and Ahmed teamed up with the American Red Cross of Indiana to organize PFW’s first Migrant Health Fair and Conference as a part of their Chapman Scholarship. The fair will take place on October 23 at PFW with an array of vendors, including the Red Cross, CVS, Walgreens, Francine’s Friends, along with several local doctors. The goal is to provide information to the Burmese community about their health and connect people to healthy resources. The fair is open to everyone to bring impact on the greater community.
Chakabva is majoring in Political Science and Organizational Leadership, and Ahmed is majoring in Biology and plans to attend medical school. As a requirement for their scholarship, both Chakabva and Ahmed must apply what they’ve learned in the four years at PFW and create a project that helps progress the community.
Their parents are both immigrants and work in the medical field. This background allowed them to see the need for immigrant healthcare firsthand. Both Chakabva and Ahmed’s parents have had Burmese patients and have recognized the health issues specific to their community such as Hepatitis B and different types of cancer. Seeing that, the scholars decided to take the opportunity to develop a health fair for this underserved community.
The scholars anticipate the health fair and conference to launch future health education events and opportunities