I was 21 and teaching in India when I realized that I was pretty much addicted to working internationally. Challenging as it was, I loved every minute of it and, before coming back to Canada I was already looking up where I could go next. That was in 2005. Since then, I was fortunate enough to spend my summer between my undergraduate and my master’s in Malawi, working at an infant orphanage for HIV positive babies and then onto my Master’s research which brought me to rural Uganda (where I spent my time investigating treatment adherence and food security among sex workers at a trucking center) for 9 months.
When I was accepted into my PhD (in epidemiology, the same field as my MSc) I couldn’t say no, but after the coursework was done, I realized how much I was itching to get back into the field. In one (of many) department emails, I was passed along the information for YCI’s Ghana Youth Ambassador programme and think I finished my application within 24 hours. Before I knew it I was back in the field (and in 33 degrees, my favourite temperature).
Ghana showed me something completely new. It took me away from research and into public health promotion. I loved working with my team and doing HIV and sexual health training with teachers. I found my leadership capabilities within the team and got more and more comfortable talking in front of bigger (and bigger!) groups. In one month we trained over 400 teachers and I was more than motivated.
Coming back I realized that maybe my path wasn’t in academia anymore (and that 7 years was enough for the moment) and started thinking about public health promotions. I wanted to find similar work with community health programming.
In November, I signed my first contract as a humanitarian worker and started the best job ever. I have spent the last 5 months working as a public health promotions officer for an NGO in Haiti. I run the public health Cholera response for a population of 120 000 people. This means that my team and I organize responses with chlorination of houses, distribution of soap and water treatment. Each activity is accompanied with community sensitization and hygiene promotion. We identify public health problems (in water and hygiene) and try and work with communities to find sustainable solutions that can be community run.
I work with an incredibly dedicated staff. In a country that has faced unimaginable devastation; I am in awe by the drive within each of them. Every day I learn something new and I find myself wishing my days would last longer. I feel like I have found the work that I was made for and just can’t get enough of it. It’s challenging for sure, but every day is worth all the effort and care that my team and I try and give every day.
– Simone Carter, Youth Innovator, Ghana 2010
There is space left in YCI’s 10-week project in Ghana starting this June. Check it out!
Want to learn what other YCI alumni are up to? Check out our blog’s Alumni Update category.