By Mireya Bowser, Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability & Learning (MEAL) Intern, HSF
I am a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s of science in Global Public Health and Applied Psychology as well as a pre-med track. When I began looking for an internship in my junior year of college, I was not sure which field of study I wanted my internship to be related to. At the beginning of the year, I was still leaning towards a medical internship. In the spring, however, I stumbled upon the Humble Smile Foundation (HSF).
With HSF I have worked as a Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL) intern, allowing me to gain experience in public health projects, research, and data analysis. I have gotten firsthand experience on the ins and outs of establishing public health interventions and helping whole communities at a time rather than one on one individuals.
Thus far, most of my work has centered on the Healthy Home project in Bhaskar Nagar, India. The purpose of this project is to improve health knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes amongst women and their families by holding monthly sessions in which women are educated on a specific aspect of health such as nutrition, water safety, oral hygiene, and many other topics. For this project, my role as the MEAL intern was to review data collected from monthly gatherings and home visits for analysis and evaluation so that the organization can track overall changes in the previously mentioned factors. Another project I have worked on is Early Childhood Development centers, based in Alex, South Africa. For this project, my role was to review needs assessment data and report on resources lacking in early childhood centers, which are meant to prepare children for school.
I believe that both projects are very important, but I have enjoyed working with Healthy Homes a bit more. In my studies, my main passions are women, black communities, and mental health. By working with this project, I have gained more awareness of women’s health in a more global sense, further enhancing my own knowledge.
HSF has helped me realize what I want to do in the future. Based on classes alone, I was not sure if I wanted to work in public health because I enjoyed my psychology and medical classes more than my public health classes. However, since gaining hands-on experience with HSF I have realized that I enjoy public health work and would like to continue to positively impact communities, one project at a time.
The only downside I have experienced with HSF so far is time differences. While all other colleagues live in the eastern hemisphere, I am based in the US which makes scheduling meetings and deadlines difficult at times. Nonetheless, I am grateful for HSF’s understanding of the time difference difficulties as well as my time commitment to school besides the work I complete for the organization.