Renovations, Family Planning, and Final Thoughts

As a sit in my dark room, the electricity out again, I’m trying to make a plan for my remaining 5 weeks in Zanzibar.  It seems crazy that I have so little time left of my 7 month internship with YCI and UMATI.  To be honest, a part of me feels as though I’m just getting started.  At a time when I should be wrapping things up I’m nose deep with work to do.  I can’t help but wonder; where exactly did the time go?

Part of my role with UMATI has been helping them build and develop their capacity as an organization, doing so in a way that will allow them to provide comprehensive services to the community and its youth. After a lot of hard work and determination, I’m thrilled to say that in the upcoming weeks construction will begin to renovate the UMATI clinic here in Zanzibar.  Needless to say, I’m beyond excited about this progress as it’s something I never expected to materialize before my time here in Zanzibar ended.  So what does this mean for UMATI?  Well, with a new improved and fully stocked clinic UMATI will finally have the capacity to run a sexual health clinic and reach those in need.  They will be able to counsel women on family planning methods and provide them with a number of options.  The renovations will also include lab materials which are needed to test for the numerous STI’s that are prevalent within the population.  The establishment of this clinic means that women, men and most importantly youth, will be able to access confidential and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.   And while these services have always been available at the local hospitals, they have never fully been utilized by a large proportion of the population because of a lack of confidentiality and user friendliness.  The new UMATI clinic will fill this gap and provide a safe place for youth to go, obtain information, access materials and services and to do so without the fear of being recognized by community members and stigmatized as a result.

UMATI Staff and I after a Training Session

Unfortunately, I will likely be finished my time here in Zanzibar by the time the clinic is ready and up and running.  Despite this, I know that the staff and volunteers at UMATI will do a wonderful job running it because they are passionate about the work they do.  Zanzibar isn’t the only place where changes are happening for UMATI.  At the beginning of August I was invited to go and visit the newly constructed UMATI office in Morogoro.  As a result of this trip, I know the potential UMATI as a nationwide organization has.  I’m excited to see how the branch in Zanzibar will continue to grow and I’m confident that someday they too will follow in the footsteps of other UMATI branches, like Morogoro, to expand and establish services such as Cervical Cancer screening and post-abortion care (PAC).

New Clinical Rooms at UMATI Morogoro

With my few remaining weeks I’ll be spending a large portion of time focusing on writing and submitting several grant proposals.  As part of this task I spent a few days earlier in the week at a USAID bidder’s conference in Dar es Salaam.  This conference was attended by over 200 local NGO’s and I was honoured to have been asked to attend as a representative of UMATI.  The conference was in preparation for a call for concept papers from locally based and run NGO’s who are doing work on girl’s empowerment, sexual and reproductive health, and family planning.  The event was not only a great networking opportunity but also a fantastic learning experience for me as this will be the first concept paper I will write for a large international donor. In addition to a lot of proposal writing, next weekend I will be facilitating a community outreach event to educate young girls about S&R health and family planning. This community event will also help to increase awareness of UMATI which will be extremely important in order to ensure that the new clinic is well known and utilized.

After 7 months in Zanzibar it will undoubtedly be hard to say goodbye.  I have formed amazing relationships with my coworkers, made some incredible new friends, reached and exceeded many goals, and discovered new things about myself and where I hope my life will lead me next.  And while at times I’ve struggled, doubted myself, and felt like I wasn’t reaching my full potential, I have a feeling that when I sit down to write my final report I will be able to confidently check off many boxes on the long list of goals I set out to accomplish at the beginning of this internship.  It just goes to show, persistence and patience really do go a long way.

Cheryl (YCI Tanzania Country Director) and I

-Sabrina Mullan, IYIP Intern, Tanzania 2011 

YCI’s International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) Interns are funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Our IYIP interns spend 7-9 months working with YCI’s partner organizations in Latin American, South America and Africa. The application process to become an IYIP intern is highly competitive. Applications for our 2012 internship positions will open in early November.

For more IYIP blogs, check out our IYIP section.

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