Summing up an entire month’s worth of experiences in a foreign country in 500 words is difficult. GROW had been something our entire chapter was excited about, especially since we were unable to send a GROW team the previous year. Needless to say, the excitement and enthusiasm to get on the ground and work with our partner organization was beaming months before the trip was to take place.
And once on the ground, the experience turned out to be more than we thought—both in good and not so good terms. Our GROW team worked extremely well together as we were very efficient and excellent at communicating with each other and WOPLAH. Throughout our month in Mumias, we learned not only about our partner but also about each other, which will be an invaluable benefit come this upcoming school year. Besides working with each other, we were able to build stronger ties with our partner organization and the community members of Mumias.
At first, things were slow to start as we didn’t have a set agenda or much to do. However, once we started making field visits and talking to beneficiaries of WOPLAH, we were working non-stop. From our conversations with WOPLAH, beneficiaries, and ourselves, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of how WOPLAH operates and the need of such an organization in Mumias. From community health dialogues to health education, WOPLAH has become a vital part of Mumias and the way the town deals with HIV/AIDS. Working with such an organization gave each of our GROW interns an incredible opportunity to learn how a community-based organization tackles the relevant issues that infest its community.
While we did learn a lot about WOPLAH, not all of the aspects of the organization we saw were admired. As we got more into the nitty gritty of WOPLAH, we started to realize their inconsistencies and disorganizations such as lack or records and consistency. As foreigners, it was difficult to find our place in such a situation and to make sure that we did not overstep our boundaries. Of course, we wanted to carry everything out respectfully in a way that was beneficial to both GlobeMed and WOPLAH. However, we all truly wanted WOPLAH to reach sustainability and independence. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to work closely with WOPLAH in trying to figure out ways to become more sustainable as an organization along with creating sustainability within each project. This task was not accomplished in the short month we were there and therefore will be something we are constantly working on throughout the year and on next year’s GROW.
Learning about WOPLAH was not something we could have fully accomplished if we had not attended GROW. It is a challenge to deliver the ambitions, accomplishments, and desires of WOPLAH without physically seeing the work that they do. However, relaying the core message of WOPLAH to our chapter is essential in how GlobeMed operates. This connection will hopefully encourage more members to become more dedicated and attend GROW in the future. Because of the many accomplishments we made on GROW, we are proud to be working with such a remarkable organization and hopeful for the future with our partner.
Written by Cheryn Aouaj ’17