ESU Graduate Student Developing Humanitarian Program; Interviewed by BBC World Service, London Times, NPR
David Good drifts down the Amazon during his trip to visit his mother and the Yanomami tribe in Venezuela in 2011. Good is currently visiting the Cabecar tribe in Costa Rica to study their culture and establish friendships.
David Good fulfills all that his last name implies as he steps out of his role as a student to embark on his life’s passion, The Good Project. Good, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from East Stroudsburg University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biology, is in the process of developing a humanitarian program, The Good Project, to connect ESU and the surrounding community to the Cabecar, a remote tribe located in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica as he begins to pay tribute to his rich family history that reaches the banks of the Orinoco River in the Amazon Basin of Southern Venezuela.
On July 7, Good will escort ESU associate professor of biological sciences Thomas LaDuke, Ph.D., and pre-med student Kathleen LaDuke to Costa Rica. Dr. LaDuke will study the fauna of the highlands, while Good and Kathleen LaDuke will assess some of the medical conditions afflicting the Cabecar tribe, focusing primarily on fungal infections. Good says that this will be his first attempt directly connecting the ESU community with an indigenous group. “This trip is a great opportunity to study the Cabecar’s language and culture, and establish a long-term friendship,” Good says.
He hopes his program will allow participants to experience a cross-cultural adventure, but a higher aim is to provide humanitarian aid to a people who now depend simply on over-the-counter medicines such as anti-fungal cream for conditions that might demand much more. “Additionally,” says Good, “this will open the door to research, allowing the medical community to develop sustainable programs to help this tribe.”
With the assistance of the Stroud Courier, the campus newspaper to whom Good had granted an interview, Good will maintain a blog detailing his time in South America
One might say that David Good’s project began with his birth; the young man is half American (Italian and German descent) and half Yanomami, a tribe of the Amazon Rainforest. While Good was born in New Jersey, his mother is a full-blooded member of the Yanomami and married Good’s father, Dr. Kenneth Good, an anthropologist who had been working and living with her tribe for 12 years. The couple was married by tribal customs and then again according to US legalities once Dr. Good persuaded his bride to accompany him back to his “village” here in America.
Good’s mother, Yarima, had lived 45 years with her jungle family, born on the banks of the Orinoco River in the Amazon Basin of Southern Venezuela. The pull of homesickness was too strong. David was not to see her again for 19 years.
Finally though, having at last come to terms with his mother’s need to return to her vastly different culture, the now-grown man in his early 20s decided he had to see her again. In July 2011, he made his first trip in many years to the Amazon (the family had made several visits back, but David was five at the time of Yarima’s final parting).
Good’s reunion was a happy one and he felt at home with his mother and his cousins. His main goal upon earning his master’s degree is to spend extended periods of time in two worlds: here in America, and in his South American home. The Yanomami health system is based on shamanism; Good wants to act as liaison between his people and Western doctors, helping communicate and build trust between the two.
In the fall of 2013, however, David Good plans to return to his village to spend at least a couple of months, alone, with no other purpose than to “catch up” and enjoy time with his Yanomami family.
For more information on the Good project, visit: http://projectgood.net/ or http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Good-Project/375077895861211?ref=hl. Good was also interviewed about his reunion with his mother by the BBC World Service, the London Times and NPR, and links to the interviews may be found at:
Good’s story was featured on the front page of the BBC News’ website and the article can be found here.