Vooris, Alicia

Ethiopia

Empowering New Generation to Improve Nutrition and Economic opportunities (ENGINE)

ENGINE is a five-year integrated nutrition project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and lead by Save the Children. With the main objective of decreasing maternal, neonatal and child mortality, ENGINE aims to improve the nutritional status of Ethiopian women and children less than five years of age through sustainable, comprehensive, coordinated, and evidence-based interventions, enabling them to lead healthier and more productive lives. The expected results for the project include: 1)Capacity for and institutionalization of nutrition programs and policies strengthened; 2)Quality and delivery of nutrition and health care services improved; 3) Prevention of under-nutrition through community-based nutrition care practices improved; and 4) Rigorous and innovative learning agenda adopted.

Global Health Mentor:  Cyndi Hiner, Sr Program Manager, JHPIEGO

During my stay in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia I worked with Jhpiego and the Empowering New Generations to Improve Nutrition and Economic Opportunities (ENGINE) team. ENGINE is a five-year (September 27, 2011 to September 26, 2016) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  This project builds upon the Government of Ethiopia’s (GOE) initiatives and renewed commitment to nutrition as well as the U.S. Government’s Global Health and Feed the Future initiatives.  While conducting my internship and working with the ENGINE team I worked on two different tasks.

First, I worked on a technical report on assessing nutrition-based competencies for health and agricultural students graduating from higher institutions of learning across Ethiopia.  The primary objective of this study was to evaluate nutrition competencies (Knowledge, skills and attitudes) of midwives, nurses and plant and animal science students at universities and TVET colleges following ENGINE support.  In this study, overall scores in competency based assessments and knowledge assessments for both health science and agricultural science students were low, with the exception of skills based assessments for agricultural students. It was also evident from the results of the study that both agricultural science students and health science students are not totally satisfied with the quality of their education, in relation to resource availability, adequacy of instructors, and curriculum content. 

The second task that I completed was to write a success story on a nutrition and skills laboratory at Hawassa University that was constructed utilizing funds and resources from the ENGINE project.  The laboratory, which was officially opened in 2013 was built to improve competency-based learning for students, to leverage the intellectual capacity of the university, and to engage students and faculty in experiential learning.  As part of my internship, I toured Hawassa University and interviewed various invested individuals, including a lab technician, a dean of the college, and a university instructor.  Using their testimonies about the current status of the laboratory, I wrote a brief story documenting progress that has been made both at the laboratory, and because of the laboratory. 

I was grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the work that the ENGINE team is doing with Jhpiego and thrilled that Ethiopia was the first African country that I had the pleasure of visiting.  I was inspired by the spirit of the people that I worked with in Ethiopia, as they were kind, diligent in their commitments to their work, and very passionate about their mission to help improve the health of individuals across the country.  I am thankful of the connections that I made with my colleagues at the Addis Ababa Jhpiego office, and I hope that we will continue to stay connected. Although I was only able to stay a short six weeks, I felt that I left Ethiopia with a renewed interest in maternal and child global public health work. 

In addition to the learning experience that I was able to obtain, I also was happy to explore such a beautiful country.  On weekends I explored Addis Ababa and fell in love with the food, music and dancing.  I found that many of the friends that I made were very proud of their country and culture, and wanted to share as much as possible with me.  This was wonderful and meaningful to me, and enabled me to feel comfortable in a home far away from home.  I hope that someday I will return to Ethiopia to visit the people that impacted my life in such a positive way. 

Caption: "This is a picture that I took on one of my weekend excursions to visit different places in Ethiopia. This is the beautiful landscape in Lalibella"

 

Caption: Alicia is giving her final presentation to all of the Jhpiego staff at the end of her placement.

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