I have been working as a project manager as part of an NGO for the Community Development with Indigenous Children in Mindanao project in the Philippines for one year. I have experienced a lot such as going to the project area, which was on a mountain, by motorbike, participating in discussions with stakeholders such as the Department of Education, and having long staff meetings at the office.
This is a comprehensive project containing three aspects, education, health, and livelihood. I am in charge of ‘livelihood’, but sometimes I feel anxious because it is the difficult to figure out how to ensure the sustainability of the project and produce results. In those times, however, I am encouraged by the team work of the Filipino staff and the mothers working hard for the group. They learn from this program and are optimistic, believing that, “We can find a way by continuing to learn”.
Even though I have gained a lot of experience from this project, this was only one step. I hope to keep learning about both health and community development in order to pursue a more effective approach to people-centered health projects.
(International Children’s Action Network (ICAN)(Philippines, Mindanao) )
One year has passed since I graduated from Nagasaki University, Graduate School of International Health Development. Now I work in Zambia on the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health project. One of my goals, which was to work in the field of public health in Africa again after I left the JOCV, has finally come true.
During the course I was inspired by a message from Prof. Aoki, former dean of our course, who claimed that in the area of public health, we must see things from the view of both birds and earthworms, in other words, to see the entirety of the situations and issues from above and as an individual from the ground. This message was reinforced through the various lectures by our professors with their rich backgrounds. I learned that perceptions regarding diseases are based on the local culture and traditions, differing among various societies. Therefore, it is essential to take into account the context and setting when dealing with them.
Apart from the lectures, the internship during the second year of the course gave me more comprehensive and practical ideas on how we needed to construct our project in order to confront the issues with the help of the local people, and what expertise and skills were expected when in the field.
The project that I am currently engaged in in Zambia aims to prevent “the three delays” associated with maternal death by constructing maternity waiting houses and training the community health workers. I always remind myself to maintain the multiple perspectives that I gained in this course and take the opinions of local people into consideration for my project.
(JOICFP-Zambia, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) One stop service project in Zambia.)
For three months in Manila I conducted research relating to tuberculosis at a national infectious disease hospital. Prior to that, when I was still in Nagasaki, I had attended lectures on biostatistics and medical ethics which were core to the clinical research and made my research proposal along with my supervisor.
When I arrived in Manila, I made a presentation about my proposal before all the research collaborators, followed by further discussions with them. This allowed my proposal to be approved by the ethics committee of the hospital where I eventually worked at.
My supervisors and I communicated frequently through TV conference so I could modify and take actions appropriate to the specific situations in the field. By the end of my stay, I was able to collect the necessary data which I analyzed and wrote for my master thesis.
I also joined many clinical sessions in the wards and met outpatients at the hospital. They gave me the invaluable opportunity to see many tropical clinical cases never seen here in Japan and to understand their management.
This “Overseas Clinical Research Program” is an outstanding program which provides both research and clinical experiences in an overseas setting for a short period of time.
I had majored in international cooperation when I was an undergraduate student and was already interested in community development. I had enrolled in the graduate school because I particularly wanted to deepen my understanding of health improvement through community participation.
One of the things that I discovered here is that being able to attend a variety of lectures that cross the boundaries of liberal arts and science has allowed me to obtain the knowledge and perspectives required for international health.
The second benefit was the long-term internship that lasted for eight months. I interned at a local hospital (community health program) in Nepal and conducted research on newborn care in rural areas of the country. Both the internship and research required me to obtain cooperation from local people and to solve issues on my own; this process became an important foundation for me in working in the field. In March, I began working as a resident for an NGO that operates in the Philippines. Having observed initiatives to support children living on the streets of Manila and the typhoon victims in Leyte, I recognize the importance of forming a network with local people and stakeholders and providing support with a vision towards the future. Moving forward, as I work on the assigned project (improve education, health, and livelihood of local people and the children of indigenous people), I will also try to expand the opportunities for people, as well as for myself, in the target areas.
(International Children’s Action Network, ICAN Philippines, Mindanao)
It has been one year since I started working for a development consulting company after graduating from this graduate school.
Everything that I learned in graduate school is essential to executing real projects in the field. There, I’m required to discern what I have learned and assess the situation. Over the past year, I have identified many things about which I want to learn more in depth, as I came to realize where I am lacking. In order to become fully qualified worker and make contributions to the field of international health, merely having the knowledge or being in the field is not enough. I believe it is essential to learn the problems that are actually occurring in the field and identify solutions using your own critical thinking skills. It is necessary to continue studies in order to use high-quality materials and think critically. I also believe that you can continue studying after graduating from school only if you have a foundation that enables you to understand the logic and determine a study or research approach in the field of international health that reflects what you learned in school.
For those of you who are enrolling now, the next two years will be precious because you will be able to use this valuable time to study to your heart’s content. There will also be enthusiastic and kind instructors and fellow students who will share those two years with you.(Development consulting company)
Isn’t it because you know the fundamentals and basics that you can make choices, gather courage to jump in or throw something away, and then gradually shift to creation? I had worked as a nurse and provided care to individuals,striving for mutual growth until I enrolled in the graduate school. After that, I joined the JOCV. Through the involvement in nursing education and community cooperation in the Republic of Mozambique, I realized the importance of public health and decided to go to school, believing that an approach based on wisdom for groups is necessary. Once in graduate school, I academically and systematically gained an understanding of various fields. At the same time, I was able to study further by gaining a variety of experience in the fields of maternal and child health, as well as cultural anthropology, particularly through community-based projects and child group studies in the rural areas of the Republic of Kenya. I had opportunities to meet exciting people including professors and MPH students, and expand my views. These experiences have become great assets to me. Being able to learn the basic notion that “the language, information, activities, etc. can connect people and provide options” while honing on-site capabilities and practical skills, as well as having time for self reflection, turned out to be an extremely valuable experience.Today, after graduating the school, I am working as I was drawn to the human-centric approach that focuses on the role of connecting people to enable everyone to accept and internalize “health” and make choices based on their own will. With everyone’s support, I have gradually come to believe that mutual awareness and shared sentiments expressed through communication based on sufficient foundation and observation can lead to human development and actions. (Public interest incorporated foundation : JOICFP-Ghana)
One of the most valuable things that I experienced during the two years of the master’s program was the acquiring of the perspective of cultural and medical anthropology. Prior to my enrollment in this graduate school, I forced my values upon the local people where I implemented my project and felt irritated that things did not go as I expected. There are various cultures in the world, and they change over time. If the project does not suit the culture, lives, and customs of the people, it will not be accepted, or may even worsen the situation. When I went to Kenya during my second year to do field research and an internship on a project related to maternal and child health, the aforementioned perspective that I learned during my first year was very useful. It became keenly obvious that I need a broader point of view in conducting activities in reproductive health, which is my specialty. I am proceeding with my education in the doctorate program now. With more competent skills and knowledge in epidemiology and statistics, I would like to conduct research in the field again. I recommend that you also find your own significant point of view through the curriculum of this school.
Because of my experience as a pharmacist in Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, I decided to come to this school to acquire
a comprehensive perspective. I studied very hard for the past two years. The classes were very interesting. I remember that I was completely drawn into the enthusiastic and realistic lectures. It was difficult because I needed to learn from various fields, but I feel a sense of accomplishment. I conducted research activities during the long‐term internship, which is one of the aspects of this school. My research was to measure the level of understanding of pediatric medical care among parents in Malawi. It started with going through the local ethics committee, and went on to the hiring of research assistants and data collection in the field. Throughout the whole process, I was supported by the professors, office staff, and the local joint researcher. Though difficult, it was a fulfilling and valuable experience for me. At the same time, I was able to find answers to the questions that I had in mind as a volunteer and got to know the enjoyment of research.
It is an asset for me to spend the two years studying with unique students while we helped one another, and I have gained a broad and objective view of situations from various angles. I would like to keep on trying hard and open up opportunities for the future.
Before I started at this school, I felt like the world was full of things that I did not know. After I graduated, I still do not know anything about the world. I feel like the world that I do not know has expanded. Many different types of people have completely different awarenesses. Even with those differences, the world keeps going.
That is it. But that is why it is interesting. I want to know more. I want to explore the things that are not going well. At Nagasaki University, there are many interesting people, both students and professors. The past two years seemed like a small project with a group of 11 students with an aim to trying to obtaining MPH degrees. It was a valuable experience to be able to meet and talk to people who live in a completely different region than me.
There are various perspectives in this unknown world, and we all have to live in different places while believing in ourselves. However, whether or not we know about these perspectives makes a huge difference. I have gained some hints on what I need to think about and what to believe and with what goal in this world from everyone I met in the past two years, and I was able to move forward a bit. With this in mind, I am thinking what I am going to do next.