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MPH, NGO Africa, Uganda, Indian

I have been involved for some time in raising funds for a charitable organization called GlobeMed which has a sister organization in Uganda called ‘Set Her Free’ – a non-profit organization working to provide health, education and rehabilitative services to young girls in Uganda. I had heard descriptions of the problems suffered by young females in Uganda but the difference between hearing about such problems and actually witnessing them is, I discovered, a very different thing. My experiences in Uganda over six short weeks as one of four interns from GWU has left an indelible impression on me and a determination to do my part in alleviating at least some part of the anguish that I witnessed and to help others to do so.

My team’s remit in Uganda was to undertake a needs assessment project in some matter calling for intervention. We called our project ‘The Sanitary Pad Program’. One of the major problems we found is that the girls are reduced to using animal skin, rags or leaves as sanitary pads, which are of very limited effectiveness, resulting in embarrassment and discomfort which often leads girls to absent themselves from school for a week each month and so to suffer a consequent loss of education and later opportunity. This problem was compounded by a lack of soap and a change of underwear, girls often possessing just one pair of pants which are usually very old. We arranged, in one village, for the regular provision of a supply of re-usable pads, soap, toilet paper and underwear but the problem, of course, is distressingly widespread throughout Uganda and beyond.

As part of my engagement with GlobeMed, I had the opportunity to explore international collaboration in a public health care context through a sustained partnership with their partner organization in Uganda. It was inspiring to witness GlobeMed expand from a very small initial community to a massive network of one and a half thousand students from 46 different universities. This has shown me that effective cross-disciplinary collaboration between like-minded individuals can yield tremendous global results. I am currently GlobeMed’s co-president on campus. In the future, I would like to become GlobeMed’s Alumni Advisor in order to be involved in the structuring of new educational and fundraising platforms for current alumni.

My objective in making this application is to acquire the advanced skills and knowledge in Community Health to enable me assist in improving the health education and health of rural families in the ‘third world’. Ultimately my ambition is to work with an NGO to advance public health of rural populations and also to pass on my passion and knowledge to a new generation of Public Health specialists.

I believe that exposure to ‘real life’ situations are vital to those studying this specialty to ensure that real people with real problems do not become mere ‘budgetary units’ or statistical data in the minds of those who have responsibility for improving the lives of real people. It is my intention to seek such ‘real world’ exposure throughout my future studies and career to ensure that I retain my focus on the underlying ‘why’ of my studies and work.

I am also aware that the mere desire to ‘do something’ is hardly sufficient in becoming a truly useful professional in this field and that highly developed analytical and planning skills, the ability to evaluate, especially statistical, data and an understanding of cross-disciplinary cooperation to a common end, are all vital. My Bachelor degree studies in Biology have called for well-developed analytical and statistical skills and I have assisted in research projects as a member of an effective team. I consider myself to have good research skills and look forward to being involved in a research project within the program and am particularly interested in problems in the provision of clean water in rural third world communities which is a problem that I have personally witnessed.

I am conscious of the fact that cultural sensitivity is vital in this field of work and that an understanding of the culture and attitudes of those one seeks to serve is fundamental in being effective. I am of an Indian background and have happily studied, worked and interacted with people from a wide variety of cultural and social backgrounds. I happily share knowledge of my own culture and positively seek to acquire knowledge of others. I get along well with other people and am blessed with a good sense of humor. In addition to English I am fluent in Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu.

I am drawn to the program because of the prestigious faculty, a curriculum and research program that fits my own needs well and the promise of the kind of challenging but supportive academic environment in which I thrive.

While I cannot claim direct professional experience in the specialty, I believe that my voluntary work and the knowledge gained from it, my personal characteristics, and the relevant skills and knowledge gained and honed in my bachelor degree studies will all enable me to ‘add value’ to the program. I promise the reader that I will participate in the program with great diligence and enthusiasm.

Thank you for considering my application.

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