By James and Alida, Global Health Corps
My co-fellow and I have been part of PSI/Burundi’s Marketing and Communication team for the past four months and most of the time what I do is ‘translating’.
I’ve been living outside of my country for the past seven years, sometimes making me feel as though I was ‘missing in action’. But wasn’t this one of the main goals? To get the education and experience that would help me be more useful to my nation?
Thanks to Global Health Corps (GHC), this fellowship has allowed me to come back and work in an area where I get to make an impact. But it comes with a lot of emotions; anger due to a system that’s failing its own people, frustration because of the slow pace at which we work, guilt for being so privileged and sadness because I can do so little.
I find myself spending my days translating my Kirundi emotions, into English thoughts and then French words. And by the time I am done explaining them I always end with “I’m not sure if this makes any sense, what do you think?” At which point The Doer shrugs, takes the time to think and share his thoughts; then we act!
The Doer is my fantastic co-fellow, who is more instinctive but most importantly he knows to stop me and push me to act; to begin somewhere, as the thoughts develop, and the understanding and translations continue.
In all, working with the youth, especially on a sensitive issue such as HIV/AIDS has showed me that sometimes you have to make sure you check all your thoughts and emotions before going into the office. Go in with them, sort them out and then translate them. As we work to make health a human right, we must assure ourselves that our work is a pure translation of the love we have for our fellow human beings.
When given the title The Doer, in no way must you constitute this individual as being one that just simply takes orders and does whatever is asked of them. We must realize the importance of such a person in any scenario, especially when it relates to the co-fellow relationship that is a vital component of the Global Health Corps Fellowship. Both working within the Marketing & Communication Department at PSI/Burundi, Alida and I realized early on what our individual strengthens and weaknesses are and how we can use them to work effectively and become outstanding additions to our placement organization.
Within the realm of development there are too many occurrences where you find yourself attending high profile seminars or conferences, listening to experts giving their theories on how to end world hunger or ways we can decrease the infant mortality rates amongst the world’s poor. Whatever happens after the seminars conclude?
Here is where the Doers come in. Those who take action when it is most needed. Individuals who seek the opportunity to ask the crucial question; what do we do next?
In relation to our work at PSI/Burundi, we too attend various meetings and seminars, where we discuss the logistics of our projects or the pressing issues facing Burundi’s health system. Working with a Thinker, Alida gives me the opportunity to look at the bigger picture and way out my options before making a conclusive decision on how to make my actions affective. I can honestly say that one fault that comes with being a Doer is that we tend to act out on our first instinct, and as we all know, doing such a thing can actually do more harm than good.
Even when asked to write this blog I immediately thought of an idea, shouted it out to Alida across our office, and began typing. What happened afterwards? Let’s just say this wasn’t the blog that first came to mind.
Global Health Corps selects fellows with diverse skill sets ranging from art to architecture to engineering. Applications are now open for the sixth class of Global Health Corps fellows. If you, like me and my co-fellow Aaron, are passionate about making an impact in global health, we encourage you to apply for a fellowship in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, or the United States.
To apply for a 2014-2015 Fellowship, please visit http://ghcorps.org/fellows/apply/.
All applicants must be 30 years or younger, have earned an undergraduate university degree by July 2014, and be proficient in English. Applications close on January 26.