Poverty, low literacy and the living environment all affect the health of Rotterdammers. That is why two years ago, partly inspired by their mentor Charles Boucher who died last year, medical students decided to set up GIDS.

Lotte van den Aardwegh, Fien Lobée, Chayenne Chinkoe and Elzahra Elkawati are the four board members of the student initiative. With a group of sixty students, they work on all kinds of social projects. “They all aim to contribute to society,” says Lotte.


Studium Generale and EM are looking for the Student of the Year. Not someone who excelled with high grades or a lot of study credits, but a student who has selflessly committed themselves to others. This can be within the study, outside the study, in student life, in a personal capacity or something completely different. The polls are now open!

All kinds of projects

For example, the students help out at a vaccination post in Delfshaven. “The doctors there need people who can give information about covid vaccinations, so we do that,” says Chayenne. In addition, students give CPR lessons in community centres and in Tarwewijk they give health education to residents. They also help Ukrainian refugees to write their CVs. “Writing a CV may seem to have little to do with health, but if you cannot function in society, for example because you don’t have a job, it will impact your health”, says Chayenne.

Out of the bubble

The idea is to give back to the city as much as possible. “We think it’s important that students step out of their bubble and get to know the population,” says Lotte. Even though they are already doing a lot, they want to do even more in the future. “We would like to see GIDS exist in all cities where there are medical faculties. We also want to expand to Health Students In Society, so not just medical students, but also for example nursing, physiotherapy, and psychology students.”

Healthcare is more than what happens in the hospital, emphasises Chayenne. Lotte adds: “As future doctors – and now as medical students – we have a responsibility that goes beyond the hospital, we are responsible for the health of the whole society, not just for those who come to us for consultations.”

Berfu Ege Söbe , Sandra Gartska, Kyra Mulder, GIDS, Amir Abdelmoumen – Student of the year 2022 – Alis Mahaletska elmers montage

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More for patients

Being on the board of GIDS is not the only way they continue to develop their skills in healthcare. Chayenne and Elzahra also teach CPR, Lotte is active in a student team at Erasmus MC and Fien works in a GP practice. What do they hope to achieve in the future? Chayenne: “I think we want to become doctors who are involved with patients. We want to do more for them than the ten-minute consultation.”

Get to know GIDS in a different way too:

How do you keep in touch with each other? Chayenne: “For our student pool we organise a monthly outing, then we all go out for dinner or organise a workshop. At the beginning of this academic year, the four of us went to Belgium for the weekend to get to know each other better. We see each other every week and have a WhatsApp group where we can discuss things more quickly.”

What do you do in your free time? Lotte: “Different things. Fien likes to travel and cook, Elzahra loves skating and enjoys embroidering and reading. Sports, travelling and making music are Chayenne’s way of relaxing, while Lotte does hockey. She also enjoys travelling and photography.”