Global Health Corps Partnership Continues, Expands in 2011
Evan Von Leer
August 11, 2011
In 2010, the Foundation partnered with the Global Health Corps (GHC)
to improve health services in the sub-Saharan nation of Malawi
. GHC placed two fellows
in the Foundation’s office in Malawi’s capital city of Lilongwe to help provide capacity in monitoring and evaluation to support the Foundation’s work in HIV prevention, care, and treatment services for children, women, and families.
After a successful first year, the partnership has expanded to a second country in 2011. This year, GHC
will be placing two fellows at Foundation offices in both Uganda
The new fellows just recently arrived in-country, after a training session at Yale University in Connecticut. The fellows working in Malawi are in particularly capable hands. They will be managed by Mafayo Phiri, who, after completing his GHC fellowship earlier this year has accepted a full-time position in the Foundation’s Malawi office as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer.
Before leaving for Africa, Eric Nicola, one of the fellows heading to Malawi, sat down with us at our offices in Washington, D.C. to talk about his expectations for the upcoming year.
Read his interview below, and look for his updates from Malawi on our blog.
EGPAF: Tell us a little about yourself.
For the past year, I’ve been working at Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, I got my Master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown, with a focus on policy and international development, and I was a teacher for four years in Houston and Washington, D.C. with Teach for America before that.
EGPAF: How did you learn about the Global Health Corps?
I heard about GHC on a listserv that some friends recommended to me. Someone posted a message encouraging people to check it out. I started the application and made my way through the process and was eventually selected and thought it was a great opportunity.
EGPAF: How long are you going to be in Malawi?
The program is for one year, starting July 24 through the end of July 2012.
EGPAF: What appealed to you most about the fellowship with EGPAF?
The reason this was my first choice was because I thought it was a good combination of my teaching experience and my graduate degree, which was a lot of econometrics and statistics. It seemed like the monitoring and evaluation fellowship would be utilizing both of those skills sets.
EGPAF: Were you given the opportunity to choose the organization you wanted to work with?
GHC places 70 fellows in 35 different placement organizations. Each placement has 2 fellows. I selected this position as my top choice.
EGPAF: Prior to applying, did you have any background in global public health?
Not specifically. My work was all focused on domestic education. I had taught for four years before going to graduate school. My focus on international development was an interest that evolved over time. I started the application process for the Peace Corps while I was in graduate school and was very close to accepting a position with them, but ended up being selected for this opportunity in Malawi.
EGPAF: Had you ever been to Africa before applying?
I have not been to Africa. I spent a summer in China between my two years in graduate school. I studied for six weeks at a university in Shanghai and taught English for six weeks in a rural village in Jiangxi Province. I have also spent some time in Honduras working on a development project during graduate school, but it was only for a week over spring break.
EGPAF: As a Monitoring and Evaluation Fellow, what types of things will you be working on?
I’ll be traveling to the various service providers—clinics and hospitals—working with their staff on data collection. We’ll be working with them to ensure that patient data is being collected and tracked properly. We’ll then enter the data into a central database to be used to better inform program implementation and generate status reports shared with donors and partners.
EGPAF: What are your expectations heading into this year-long fellowship?
One of the big things I am looking forward to is the on-the-ground experience. I spent two years earning my masters degree focusing on policy and development. It’s a lot of theory, and now I have the chance to implement a lot of the things we talked about. I wanted to be on the ground, and I wanted it to be in Africa.
I am also looking forward to networking with people in the embassy, at other NGOs, and others around Malawi working on similar issues. I want to learn and see first-hand how all these systems can work together to lead to better development, education, and health care.
Evan Von Leer is an Online Communications Officer at the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.