Summer 2014 Christianson Fellow Announced
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New grant recipient is providing support to HIV/AIDS organization in West Africa.
The InterExchange Foundation is pleased to award a Christianson Fellowship in the amount of $5,000 to its latest recipient, Alicia G., a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Alicia is currently living in Kara, Togo, where she is using her French language skills and MIT education to help design and implement data analysis processes for her host organization, Association Espoir pour Demain (AED), an HIV/AIDS clinic. The grant funding is making it possible for Alicia to contribute to the organization's efforts to improve the efficiency and scalability of treatment as its patient base grows.
Alicia's project is a collaboration between AED and Hope Through Health, an American organization whose mission is "to deliver efficient, effective, community-drive health care in neglected settings." The funding she has received through the Christianson Fellowship has helped pay for her travel and living expenses, as well as necessary hardware such as backup drives she needs to ensure the project's successful implementation.
"This project is designed with sustainability at its core," Alicia says. "As AED grows, both in number of patients and in breadth of services offered, it is crucial that AED be able to continue providing high-quality care to all of its patients while keeping costs at a minimum and without needing to hire significantly more staff members. To accomplish this goal, and prevent any patients from falling through the cracks, the clinic needs an impeccable data collection system and the ability to manage its patients and programs at a high level instead of on a case-by-case basis. Once AED has the software, hardware, and knowledge infrastructure in place, it will be much easier to work in a way that scales up."
Alicia has previously traveled and lived in France, Israel and Togo, where she's accumulated the needed experience, independence and language skills to make an impact in western Africa.
"All business and professional interactions in Togo are conducted in French, and so almost every adult in the country is fluent in it," she says. "Having lived in France and traveled throughout the Francophone world, I feel extremely comfortable in a developing country and integrating myself into the culture. I have really enjoyed starting to pick up the subtle differences between standard and Togolese French, as well as learning all of the special greetings, expressions, and body language that will allow me to understand and be understood more fully by the people I will live and work with."
Alicia also plans to use her experience in Togo as a launching pad for her future career.
"I have decided that before I can continue on to graduate school (likely in public health), it is important for me to get work experience in the field so that I can solidify my areas of interest to better understand the reality of health disparities across the globe," she says.
Previous Christianson Fellows in 2014 are Jonathan G., who has made an impact by helping asylum-seekers in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, with Asylum Access Ecuador; Andrew D., who offered legal assistance to asylum-seekers with Asylum Access Thailand before returning to New York, where he will continue working in refugee rights; and Lee B., who is serving as an English teacher/program coordinator for the Arajuno Road Project in Puyo, Ecuador.
The next Christianson Fellowship deadline is July 15, 2014. Grantees are awarded up to $10,000 in grant funding for international projects lasting six months or more.
InterExchange is a nonprofit organization committed to improving international understanding by facilitating life-changing, exceptional cultural exchange experiences for young people, businesses and families around the world. As both a J-1 Visa sponsor designated by the U.S. Department of State and a cross‐cultural ambassador, we develop meaningful relationships with participants from more than 60 countries as well as with international cooperating agencies, host employers and families. We ensure that all in our community are treated with respect and consideration and are supported by staff with firsthand experience living and working abroad.
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