Matching Idealism with Pragmatism: Working towards a Healthier Tanzania

Over 7,000 miles away from Tanzania’s Lake Zone is a different sort of jungle—New York City. While Touch’s in-country team executes and manages our projects in East Africa, I support the development, implementation, and evaluation of the organization’s communication plan from Touch’s New York office. Established in 2004, the Touch Foundation works to improve Tanzania’s quality and quantity of healthcare workers, optimize their deployment and retention, and enhance the healthcare delivery mechanisms in which they work.

I worked with a lot of nonprofits during my four years at Davidson. What drew me to Touch was its commitment to sustainable impact and emphasis on local collaboration and ownership. Our projects are designed from careful needs-based analyses and executed with the expectation that Touch will eventually transition them to Tanzanian management, empowering our Tanzanian partners and ensuring the vitality of Touch’s work. Touch embodies a sense of idealism matched with a pragmatism that channeled the many Exit 30 discussions had on effective service and international development. This isn’t entirely coincidental as a fellow Wildcat, Lowell L. Bryan ‘68, founded and leads Touch as its president. This now a warrants a shout-out to Dr. Steve Justus ‘78, Touch’s Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President and Hannah English ’12, Touch’s Development Manager. Adjusting to post-grad/city life wasn’t too bad as you can now see.

Working from New York has also enabled me to obtain a greater grasp at nonprofit development, i.e., the fundraising elements of nonprofits. It certainly spans far beyond throwing annual galas and generating appeals. Development is a giant undertaking an an integral component of a nonprofit organization. It encompasses donor management to ensuring funds are raised, responsibly spent, tracked, and reported. What repeatedly overwhelms me most about the process is learning how many organizations there are working on healthcare in Africa. What makes Touch worthy of donor contributions among the tens of dozens of organizations doing great work?

But then I step back. I think about our approach. It’s a single country focus and while not as “sexy” as rolling out a map with project dots emblazoned across four continents, it’s what makes Touch effective. International development takes time. There are relationships to build and success is contingent upon a community’s specific dynamics and institutions in place. We’re here for the long-term and when we leave it’s because Tanzania is ready for us to leave. Such realizations make me even more proud to be part of such a dedicated and reflective team.

I know this will increasingly be the case when I experience and contribute to our on-the-ground work firsthand–and it looks like this will happen sooner than later. Vaccination appointments set and flights are booked! Just in time to escape New York’s painfully cold weather too.

A Touch of Program

Cutler Fellows in working groups

Over the course of my Fellowship with Salzburg Global Seminar, I have focused the majority of my time in fundraising. Juggling the many projects in support of both institutional and individual giving for Salzburg Global keeps me busy, to say the least. Solicitations, grant proposals and reports are constantly circulating among the members of our team. We […]

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Lessons in Event Planning

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For the last several months, my time has been consumed largely by planning DHC’s two biggest fundraisers. This includes a luminary fundraiser around the holidays and a soup tasting fundraiser right before the Super Bowl. At times, there seemed to be a lot of pressure; botching an event could reflect negatively on the organization or […]

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Happy Valentine’s, Darling?

valentine baby

From November 2014:* I’ve spent the last week eyeballs glued to the computer screen editing a grant application. Which. In the long run could be a very big deal for my community. Which. In the long run would mean victims of sexual assault and domestic violence would access live-saving services better. Which is inspiring and […]

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Geitawi: Quick Sketch

Geitawi

    (If play icon doesn’t appear, press the black space on the lefthand side.)

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Upstream Doctors

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Three friends are strolling in the woods by a broad, rushing river when they see a child being swept downstream in the water. Aghast, they rush to pull a flailing toddler from the surging current. Then they see another child. Then another. And then another. The water is full of children. One friend races to […]

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The Importance of Early Education

Standards and Guidelines

Nationwide, less than one-third of 4-year-olds participate in preschool programs (US Department of Education, 2014). Compare this figure to global statistics, and the United States ranks 25th in the world in early learning enrollment (US Department of Education, 2014). Even more staggering is the reality that of this fraction of American students receiving a preschool […]

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‘Tis the season at OC

Thanksgiving Community Center Outreach

This holiday season has been the time to give back to the community in OrthoCarolina. OthoCarolina offers to pay for hours employees volunteer during work hours and I took full advantage. The first event I participated in with my OrthoCarolina team was Operation Christmas. A group of 12 went to pack boxes for children all […]

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Writing Post-Davidson

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At Davidson, I wrote a lot. Almost every student does. Juggling research papers, journal reflections, essays, and daily homework is undeniably integral to the Liberal Arts experience. In my Davidson Impact Fellowship with the Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC) and the Carolina Thread Trail, I have begun to harness the skills I developed at Davidson and […]

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A Day in Court

I enter the new county court house, a shiny downtown number that has been open for less than a year; floor-to-ceiling glass windows line the hallways, and the floor gleams like it’s just been waxed. A motley assortment of stoic and grinning police officers greet me as I shuffle through the metal detectors and make […]

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