Empowering Patients & Global Communities Through Partnership

This is a post I have been very much looking forward to writing and sharing with you, especially to those in the pre-med community who are a little hesitant to step out of their comfort zone or just don’t believe that an experience like this will further their motivations to be a physician. Let me tell you, I started this fellowship in June feeling like the ultimate outsider, completely out of my element. At Bootcamp, I was surrounded by driven and passionate sustainable development majors, social entrepreneurs, non-profit directors, and artists. Individuals who truly believe in the potential of communities around the world. Individuals committed to the field of global development. Originally posted by aethelwin-blog Enter LIL OL’ ME. Microbiology major, little experience in development, about to commit 7+ years to the field of medicine. Did I take a wrong turn somewhere? Absolutely not. These last three months of studying curriculum and learning about Mama Hope’s Connected Development model has slowly made me realize that community development and patient care ARE VERY SIMILAR and if done the correct way, they can be incredibly impactful on the health of patients and the future livelihood of global communities. Along the same lines as my fellow Advocates, I truly believe in the potential of patients to live happy and healthy lives, and I am committed to making my local and global community a healthier place through connection, collaboration, and partnership. There are endless parallels I have noticed between human-centered development and patient-centered care, but I want to highlight two similarities I noticed that are especially important to remember: (1) In development, communities are more than just the apparent necessities they lack. Similarly in health care, patients are more than just values and symptoms on a chart. We need to stop viewing developing communities and patients as problems that need to be solved by experts. Instead, we have to start viewing them with dignity and respect, as valuable and capable partners. As I’ve shared with you, every one of Mama Hope’s global partners is a visionary leader who knows exactly what his or her community wants and needs to thrive into the future. All they want is to be able to collaborate, learn, and be heard. Likewise, patient health can be shaped by so many external as well as internal factors. What’s on the chart is just one part of the story, and the only way a medical provider is allowed access to the other part is by taking the time to get to know the patient. By creating a meaningful relationship based on trust, support, and respect, a patient is more willing to share their insight with you, leading to a better picture of their overall health. (2) Providing aid alone to developing communities is not a sustainable solution for progress. Similarly, prescribing medication alone to patients is not the best way to improve health outcomes. These short-term solutions are ineffective, costly, and create dependency. The best way to support and empower communities and patients in the long-run is capacity building and education. While aid can buy material goods for survival, developing the skills and instincts to adapt and thrive will build stronger and more self-reliant communities. Likewise, medicine may be very beneficial in keeping the worst symptoms of a chronic condition at bay, but disease is usually multi-faceted, attributed to lifestyle as much as biology. This is why patient education is so important. Understanding how diet, exercise, and other lifestyle interventions can lead to better health will empower patients to take steps to stay ahead of their illness, instead of just waiting for their next refill. Originally posted by mattsgifs How amazing/weird/miraculous is it that I stumbled upon an organization that operates with values and principles that align almost exactly with the kind of healthcare I saw being practiced at the Mobile Outreach Clinic in Gainesville. Both these experiences have reinforced my passion for educating and empowering communities through accessible and quality patient-centered health care. I’m exactly where I should be. WE MADE IT! Thanks for joining me on the last day of Blog Week. I have had so much fun launching this travel blog and giving you a small glimpse into my world as a Global Advocate in preparation for my time in the field. I have a ton of packing and prep left to do before my departure on the 27th, but be on the lookout for new content and posts in two weeks. Thanks for the support, and see you then!

Lessons learned from Phase 1 Curriculum

The Global Advocate Fellowship consists of 3 phases: professional training, hands-on experience in Mama Hope’s global partner communities, and the final global impact capstone. This post is a continuation of Tuesday’s post on some of the things I learned during the professional training phase aka fundraising and curriculum. Curriculum Alongside fundraising during phase 1, Advocates participate in a 10-week educational curriculum, which, for me as a micro major, was VERY necessary, informative, and eye-opening. Through reading diverse material, completing assignments, and engaging in open discussion with fellow Advocates and Mama Hope staff in weekly conference calls, I gained a more open-minded perspective of global community development and a better understanding of what my role as a Global Advocate should/needs to be to best serve the local Gujarati people. 4 learning modules in total. 4 (out of many) incredibly powerful lessons learned: 1. The widely accepted narrative of global development is inaccurate. 2015 marked the deadline for a pact of nations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of eight target areas for the reduction of extreme global poverty. This 15-year ambitious effort, according to the UN Development Program, produced the most successful anti-poverty movement in history. That same year, the UN Millennium Campaign sponsored an “End Poverty” poster competition. The winning poster is shown above. The contrast between the world leaders of the G8 summit on top and dusty, shoe-less African children on the bottom is compelling, but the tagline is highly misleading. “We are still waiting” …. this seems to insinuate that underdeveloped countries and communities are just sitting around, twiddling their fingers, wishing for hand outs, waiting to be saved. And “Dear World leaders” …. makes it seem like only global institutions have the answers to solve the issue of global poverty. Both these assumptions and narratives are incorrect. There is so much innovation and creativity within communities on the African continent and beyond, and none of this began with waiting for the assist from government institutions. In Dayo Olopade’s book, “The Bright Continent,” she describes the ingenuity of exchange that takes place on congested roads of Lagos, Nigeria. Sitting in the middle of traffic, you can literally buy anything from mobile phone airtime to live animals. “Congested roads aren’t an opportunity for self-pity but for marketing.” Check out this Stop the Pity campaign showing the entrepreneurial spirit of tech-savvy business women in Kenya. (from International Development History & Circumstances) 2. Always accept a cup of tea when offered. An article we read in this module outlines five principles for community service that resonate with Mama Hope’s model of Human Centered Development. The first principle, Stay for Tea, resonates the most with me because the writer’s initial experience as an outsider in a Bolivian community is one I will surely relate to once I arrive in-country. I may have a sense of the community I am joining through stories and pictures, but I am still a stranger with a title and a position who has built no connections with the local people who I will be working and living alongside. “Staying for tea” is so important because taking the time to listen and connect with the community on a deeper level can be a powerful asset in collaboration and partnership. I look forward to my transformation from a community development volunteer to essentially, a new neighbor. To Stay for Tea means recognizing our place as outsiders coming in but still deeply respecting and learning from the people in the communities we serve. (from Connected Development) Originally posted by mywhisperedcolors 3. Get some perspective. Get on the balcony. An excerpt we read in this module from “Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading,” written by two Harvard faculty highlights the first rule of surviving as a new leader: gain perspective. This is not a particularly easy thing to do, especially in stressful, high-stakes situations. As Global Advocates, we sit on a tight rope, constantly balancing our servant and leadership roles. But to step back, remove ourselves from the equation, and get on the metaphorical balcony to objectively view the situation is the only way to gain a clearer view of reality and our place and role within it. Not only does getting on the balcony change your perspective on what is happening around you, but also it can make you more self-aware of flaws in your leadership. Hence, to all leaders (new or old), “get off the dance floor and onto the balcony, so you can see what is really happening around you” (from Leadership Development) 4. Even manure can be an asset. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Upon entering any developing community, your initial thoughts should not immediately jump to all the things that are lacking or need fixing. Instead, focus on the positive! I don’t care what community it is, you WILL be able to identify assets and build upon them. This model of asset-based community development works best when we view others as equals. Not only should we be connecting with our communities to assess their needs, but we must also take the time to understand what they feel their strengths and assets are. It may not seem like an obvious asset to outsiders at first, like the waste materials in a permagarden, but drawing out local knowledge will build their confidence and our understanding of how to best support a community better. (fromProject Management & Assessment) Also, I know i’m late with this post, but I hope you all glanced at the full moon last night. HAPPY MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL! Originally posted by christinaillustrates