2014 GHEFP awardee makes art in Bangladesh
Brittany Thomas, an undergraduate student at the Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and 2014 Global Health Established Field Placement (GHEFP) awardee, is spending this summer working on diarrhoeal disease research in Dhaka, Bangladesh. During a recent conversation with her advisor, Dr. Peter Winch, Brittany revealed her lifelong love for art which led to a new project. Brittany was asked if she would be able to help create drawings for the WSUP Project, an intervention in urban slums in Dhaka that aims to provide waste bins in communal latrines to prevent residents from breaking latrine water seals as a measure of depositing solid waste
She was tasked with the development of seven drawings expressing the need to properly maintain communal latrines during the current water shortage, emphasizing the power of collaboration within the community. After she completed the drawings for the project, the field research officers presented them to members of the community in a group meeting and they were received well as potential reminders for maintaining communal latrine hygiene. When asked about this project, Brittany said,
"This drawing project has served a tremendous role in the revival of my practice of art and has also emphasized an intersection in my passions for water and sanitation and art, a path that I hope to explore further as a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil in 2016"
In addition to the drawings, her internship at the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) has included: serving as a writing coach for a paper related to a study of improved dual pit pour-flush latrines in rural Bangladesh, scientific model drawings of latrines and potties for safe hygiene practices within the WASH-Benefits Study, and contribution to JHSPH MPH Candidate Audrey Buckland's assessment of the sustainability of the WASH-Benefits Study, a randomized-controlled trial delivering water and sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition interventions in rural Bangladesh to prevent growth stunting and environmental enteropathy in children.
Brittany was inspired to apply for the placement in Dhaka, Bangladesh at the icddr,b after participating in the "JHU Intersession in Uganda: Childhood, Health, and Society" Program in 2013. Her project in Uganda inspired her passion for water and sanitation, as a result of the interviews I conducted with governmental, infrastructural, and academic professionals that were assessing the status of water and solid waste infrastructure in Rakai and Kampala. Brittany said that the GHEFP Program represented an opportunity to spend an extended period of time collaborating with and learning from icddr,b, an organization that has been dedicated to improving health outcomes for children and families for generations.
"I have learned so much about water and sanitation within the past 8 weeks and am inspired to pursue graduate studies in Sanitary and Environmental Engineering as preparation to spendthe rest of my life contributing to the betterment of water and sanitation infrastructure and access for people around the world."