I graduated from the Graduate School of Social Service in 2008, like many students, not quite sure of what the future had in store. But I had high hopes and a goal of putting what I had learned to use in an international setting. Little did I imagine that I would find myself trekking up a steep dirt path – trailed by about a dozen barefoot kids – to the tiny home of a young mother where I would share a cup of strong mountain coffee as we chat about the opportunity to see the health of her five kids drastically improved through, but here I am.
For over a year now, I have been working in Honduras for Global Brigades, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives in rural villages. I helped start and now am the director of a program called Public Health Brigades, which is focused on preventative health. Volunteers come down to Honduras and spend a week working side by side with local families and villages to empower them to improve their health through education and simple, but effective improvements to homes.
Los Pajarillos, one of our villages, is located high up in the mountains with stunning views across valleys. Families here walk two hours to get to the nearest health clinic. They grow corn and beans to feed their families. Kids run around chasing each other and playing soccer, sometimes when the teacher is holding classes, they go to the one room school. Volunteers are able to get to know families on a personal level, spending significant time in their homes, and working together to build latrines, concrete floors, and improved stoves, each of which helps prevent a serious health problem. Every morning, we put on a health lesson with the kids, playing games and singing songs to teach them life saving health techniques, simple things like how to wash your hands properly with soap. We also hold neighborhood meetings to help organize the community to work together to transform their village’s health.
Being at Fordham taught me many of the skills I use on a daily basis. Things such as, holding dialogues with communities, balancing multiple stakeholders’ needs, empathetic listening and more concrete skills such as grant writing and many of the finer points of administration. Specializing in Global Service provided me with opportunities to study the global issues that I now see on a daily basis.
Are you passionate about changing lives, one family at a time?
See an interview I did about the PHB program in Honduras: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l_rGJfcgxo&feature=related