Global Health and Mama Helen’s Garden
I spent this summer in Tanzania. My first month in the Global Health Summer Program was in Moshi taking a class with my Cornell peers and students from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College. We wrote a case study analysis of a public health issue in Tanzania.
I spent my second month in Tanzania interning at Training, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation on Gender and AIDS (TRMEGA), an NGO focused on the use of medical plants as therapy for HIV/AIDS and reducing the stigma surrounding women with HIV/AIDS.
During my service placement, I had a great time learning about the slow food movement and medicinal plants.
I learned a lot during my time in Tanzania. My Kiswahili improved, and I had lots of opportunities to learn about the culture of Tanzania. My mother is Nigerian and my father is Congolese, so some aspects of Tanzanian culture felt familiar to me. But during the course, I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone—for example, when we produced a 32-page paper in four weeks.
During my service placement, I had a great time learning about the slow food movement and medicinal plants. We toured several gardens, allowing me to see the impact of Mama Helen (TRMEGA’s founder) and her slow food garden workshops.
I found I had to be much more autonomous during my time in Tanzania. I had to walk to and from class by myself in the streets of Moshi. Initially, this was a daunting task, but I eventually learned my way around—and enough Swahili to communicate if I got lost.
My time in Tanzania clarified my career goals. Going into this program, I knew I wanted to focus on the intersection of pharmaceuticals and traditional healing as a part of medicine. The program introduced me to the importance of nutrition.
I’m not quite sure what I want to do as an eventual career, but I do know that I will incorporate my knowledge from the classroom, as well as my knowledge from Mama Helen’s garden!