Global health and female empowerment are the themes of the March 2015 Christianson Grant recipients’ service projects. The InterExchange Foundation is providing $20,000 to support Gabriella Flynn, Anna Wade and James Jiang effect positive change in these areas.
Gabriella and Anna are already on the ground in the Dominican Republic. At the Clínica de la Familia, a clinic seeking to improve the health of families in the eastern region of the country, Gabriella is applying the skills she learned in her graduate program in International Development and Global Health to monitor and evaluate Camp Joy and Hope — a camp that strives to improve the emotional and psychological health of families with HIV-positive children.
“The youth that attend this camp are often from some of the poorest areas in La Romana [in the Dominican Republic] and have very difficult family situations,” wrote Gabriella.
In her first blog, Gabriella writes about how the camp truly lives out its name: “The camp offers youth the hope that they have a bright future ahead of them, continually having discussions that they are valued and valuable. The camp also offers the joy that they are unconditionally loved no matter what their ailments are.”
In addition to her work with Camp Joy and Hope, Gabriella hopes to start an HIV support group for adolescents. She aspires to a career in the global health management field.
“This cultural immersion work experience will allow me to build the tools of understanding and acclimation that I can carry forward as I continue to develop personally and professionally as a global, culturally sensitive individual,” says Gabriella.
North of Gabriella, in the town of Cabarete, Anna is volunteering with the Mariposa DR Foundation (MDR) to help end generational poverty through the empowerment of adolescent girls. During her Women & Gender Studies program at the University of Virginia, Anna learned about the “girl effect,” which posits that girls are the key to economic recovery in developing areas.
“Oftentimes, the cycle of poverty continues for generations with young mothers struggling to care for their teenage daughters, who subsequently also get pregnant at an early age,” says Anna.
During her 11-month project with MDR, Anna will develop program curriculum focusing on self-actualization, pro-social behavior, self-care, positive inter-personal relationships and mind-body trauma healing through mindfulness practices.
“From this program will emerge 50 change-agents who are equipped to promote their own personal well-being in terms of educational, social, emotional and financial prosperity,” says Anna.
With the help of the Christianson Grant, Anna hopes to “widen the space for opportunity” for these girls so that they may accomplish more than thought possible.
Our third March 2015 Christianson Grant recipient, James Jiang, heads to the Philippines in January 2016 to work with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO). James will join a team focusing on developing a Regional Hepatitis Action Plan for the Western Pacific to improve viral hepatitis treatment and surveillance in resource-limited settings and a Global Hepatitis Strategy to unify global efforts.
“Viral hepatitis is a silent killer and there’s not enough attention on it,” says James. “The WHO WPRO is one of the few organizations attacking this problem at a national level by lobbying international health officials to implement hepatitis strategy plans and this is why I want to work with them.”
James studied viral hepatitis, treatments, vaccinations and public health strategies extensively at Stanford University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in human biology. He will use his background to help convince government officials to commit to a public health response for the prevention and control of hepatitis in low- and middle-income countries.
We’re excited to watch James, Anna and Gabriella positively contribute to their host communities! If you're interested in doing something similar, visit the InterExchange Foundation website to learn if your service project abroad qualifies for funding.