Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interning in with RACHA in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We are interning at the NGO called Reproductive and Child Health Alliance (RACHA).  This organization is based in Phnom Penh but works with pregnant women, mothers, and children both in the city and rural areas to improve their health through different health programs.  They do things such as installing water filters in boat communities, increasing iron in fish sauce, educating mothers about prenatal care and child care. They have been a very successful organization for years and are funded by outside sources like the USAID.

Our duties are pretty inconsistent.  For the first parts, we were trying to figure out where interns fall in this whole organization.  We have been reading up on their programs.  I get the feeling that we should have been more prepared with a topic and some research to make use of our time here so we could jump into work right away. But I'm glad for some preparation and am excited for the work we're about to do. I hope I can jump in and make a difference.

We were place with the nutrition department which I feel happy and thrilled about because it's definitely a topic of interest. The ladies in this area are so sweet and welcoming. They have really tried to learn more about me and once we got through the reason why I'm in a wheelchair, we've moved on to talking about other topics. I'm really glad they don't get stuck on that, and I'm also glad that there isn't' a language barrier as I grew up speaking their language. However, it has been a bit to get back into the groove of speaking. I think it's good they see I can speak it, always want to help out and my language gives them the opportunity to do so. They have invited me to go to the prenatal trainings to learn and hopefully train soon-to-be mothers as well. I can't wait!

So far, one of the managers of the financial and logistics department has asked me to edit the English translation for the USAID quarterly review of program stats and progression. Also, I'm working on some document translation from data acquired through health research in the provinces.  It's not the most fun to do, but it's definitely interesting to see the process of how things work here and see the public health methods I'm learning about in school in live action.

I hope to get a lot of work done here, although accessibility was a barrier in the beginning. The first department I was in was nutrition, which was three floors up.  AJ would piggy back me everyday and Ash or Jake would so graciously carry my wheelchair up. We had a whole system down, but it was still a pain because the restrooms (also inaccessible) were on the ground floor. Eventually, the director, Chan theary placed me in another department, doing the same work, but on the first floor. It's been interesting so far. I'm looking forward to getting to some work soon. Follow me on this adventure :)

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