Volunteering at CTPH has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences

I began working with CTPH in September 2011, as a marketing and development volunteer through the American Jewish World Service Volunteer Corps program. Before moving to Uganda I worked in international development in the US for about 2 years before finally making it to the African continent, and being here has by far surpassed my expectations. Volunteering at CTPH has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I’ve ever had, and has made me more likely than ever to want to continue working on international issues.

1Gorilla research clinic new site

The work I’ve done for CTPH has been both interesting and dynamic. I was fortunate enough to come at a time when CTPH was considering its long-term strategic goals, and was able to support staff in their process of deciding where the organization wants to be in a year, three years, five years, and so on. Since then I’ve run a grant-writing workshop for CTPH staff, worked to improve our online presence by creating a Flickr and Twitter account, drafted brochures and newsletters, assisted in writing grants, worked on content for our new website (which we will be launching soon!), and helped out with the annual report and other donor-documents. I’ve been able to sit in on a number of meetings with partner organizations and stakeholders, as well as contribute some ideas on how to improve operations and grow CTPH’s model. I feel so fortunate to have been able to participate in such a meaningful way.

One of the most unusual and exciting aspects of CTPH is its ability to integrate numerous programs and approaches across sectors: whether working to achieve biodiversity conservation in some of Africa’s most beautiful protected areas through improving public health for some of the poorest people on the content; improving people’s livelihoods to decrease their dependency on tourism; or working to blend nonprofit-type philanthropy with innovative business practices, CTPH does a little bit of almost everything without diffusing its overall goals.

Daniela and Sam, a community conservation health volunteer at the village aquaponics projec

The village aquaponics project

Part of what drew me to accept a placement at CTPH was its unique mission: control the spread of diseases between humans, wildlife and livestock, thus conserving natural resources and biodiversity while simultaneously improving health for very poor, rural communities. In November I was fortunate enough to visit both Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, two of the areas where we work, to observe a family-planning training for our network of community health volunteers. Although I was already impressed by CTPH’s integrated health and conservation model, seeing their program in action gave me whole new insights into the success of their programs. I got to observe two days of training for community conservation health volunteers in Buhoma District near Bwindi, and it was both impressive and moving to see this large network of people working together to improve conditions for their communities.

On my trip, I also got to visit our gorilla health research clinic, the village Aquaponics project and the site for our new Gorilla Conservation Camp and Gorilla Health Center.

Working with the dedicated CTPH staff has also been an amazing experience. Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is an inspiring mentor and leader, and it’s clear she has been head of the pack when it comes to combining conservation and development. I’m also continually impressed by the high quality of work that my colleagues and co-worker produce and have gained an enormous amount of knowledge from them both about the institutional structures in Uganda and about the sectors of conservation and public health specifically.

Community Conservation Health volunteer training on family planning in Kisoro districtKisoro volunteers receiving training on family planning

Beyond the enormous professional and intellectual opportunities accorded me in my time at CTPH, I feel a profound gratitude at having had a chance to live in this beautiful country and interact with its amazing people. I will miss Uganda and CTPH and hope that they are able to continue their impressive work for years to come!

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