I was accepted to Global Health Corps on May 6th and asked to make a decision by May 11th. After the initial shock and excitement wore off, low thoughts began sinking in. Was I accepted so late because I was an alternate? Did I really have what it takes? Should I actually do GHC?
Now that I have a better understanding of the Copperbelt Health Education Project (CHEP), emphasis on health education, I see how my values, ideals, and experience working with Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW) align with CHEP and made this a quality match.
CHEP was established in 1988 to help respond to the emergent HIV/AIDS problem which was already widely affecting several Zambian families. It began as a community health service wing of the Kitwe Rotary Club with a mandate to raise awareness, educate and support communities and to prevent the spread of HIV. The work of CHEP has focused on the Copperbelt, partnering with marginalized and disadvantaged communities in the fields of education, health and nutrition, and health education.
CHEP is one of the very first Zambian indigenous organizations and has now grown institutionally to become one of the largest NGOs on the Copperbelt.
Lucky for me, CHEP focuses on a wide array of health issues so I have the opportunity to learn a ton. A few of the current projects they are leading include:
The Norweigan Association of Heart and Lung Partners (LHL) Project – This project focuses on contributing to the overall global strategy to stop TB by pursuing quality DOTS expansion and enhancement through training of treatment supports, improved Health Communication, and patient empowerment in the community.
CHEP/World Vision Partnership – In partnership with World Vision, CHEP strengthens the capacity of Zambian communities to provide sustainable HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support services in a harmonized manner to priority geographic areas, target populations, and stakeholder communities.
Cecily’s Trust Fund/Peer Health Education – In partnership with Cecily’s Trust Fund, this is a program focused on training orphans and vulnerable children in health education and sending them to schools to educate primary school children. In doing so, it equips these OVCs with leadership and vocational skills as well as spreads awareness of healthy habits to Zambian children and school communities.
As the Advocacy Support Officer, it is my job to update CHEP’s Advocacy & Communications Strategic Plan and then implement it. Advocacy certainly has a variety of definitions, but for CHEP it primarily means raising awareness and resources in the community to advocate for OVCs, TB/HIV patients, and sexual and reproductive health for youth. Additionally, I hope to strengthen CHEP’s communications and social media presence. I have a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I am very ready to start working.