Tag Archives: africa

A Summer in Rwanda with Engineering World Health – Maddy Bishop-Van Horn

My name is Maddy Bishop-Van Horn and I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering (BME) with a minor in Mathematics. I found my internship through a Tulane BME alumni, who came and talked to Tulane’s Biomedical Engineering Society last fall about his experiences working in global healthcare.

Now for the exciting news: This summer, I will be living and working in Rwanda with an organization called Engineering World Health! Engineering World Health (EWH) is a non-profit organization that aims “to inspire, educate, and empower the biomedical engineering community to improve health care delivery in the developing world.” One of the ways EWH is accomplishing this mission is by sending engineering students and young professionals to developing countries to work in hospitals, repairing and installing medical equipment that might otherwise go unused.

On May 30th, I will begin the long, long plane ride to Kigali, Rwanda, where I will be living for the month of June. There, I will be trained in troubleshooting and maintenance of the available medical equipment with the available tools. I will also take language immersion classes in French and Rwanda’s native language, Kinyarwanda.

In July, I will be deployed with one other EWH volunteer to a small village (I don’t know which one yet) to live and work for the remainder of the summer. I will live in a homestay at night and take a public bus to the hospital to work under the supervision of a local biomedical engineering technician. At the hospital, I will have many responsibilities. I will take an inventory of all medical equipment, and then begin working to troubleshoot and repair broken but vital equipment. I will work with the local technician to translate user manuals from English to French and Kinyarwanda. I also hope to talk to doctors and nurses about the kind of equipment they wish they had and what would make their lives easier.

I have a lot of goals for this summer. I hope to make life-long friends. I hope to learn more about global health and where I, as a biomedical engineer, fit. I hope to repair equipment that can save lives, and I hope to challenge my own perspectives.

I am incredibly excited for this summer, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you. Next post will be from Kigali, Rwanda!

Until then,

Maddy

Halfway: Informed and Immersed

My (messy) desk. Also note the awesome decorations– they're all over the office.

My (messy) desk. Also note the awesome decorations– they’re all over the office.

Hi everyone! I’m about half way through my experience with AmeriCares and I am really starting to understand what the organization is all about. A big part of the internship is a crash course in work AmeriCares has done, the work they are doing, and the work they plan to do. People from each department have come in to give the interns an overview of their respective work, which is helpful as there is not always interaction between departments. I mainly deal with Institutional Relations so it is interesting for me to hear about the field programs we do in Medical Outreach or the process for partnering with a pharmaceutical company in Corporate Relations.

It is a typical for a company to give a 101 course to interns, but at AmeriCares all the employees, even ones you would never work with, make an effort to reach out to you. In addition to a mentor program, and professional development advisors, there are people at the organization who will just shoot you an email to talk because they heard you are going abroad to the same place they did.

AmeriCares encourages the interns and students to explore the work that it is doing. This week I wrote a few acknowledgement letters to donors who have contributed to our relief efforts across the globe. I consider myself to be pretty informed and up to date, so I was confused to be researching events that I had never even knew about, like volcanic eruptions in Indonesia in March that displaced tens of thousands or the humanitarian aid currently being sent to Detroit because water has been cut off from half the city.

In my exploration of AmeriCares projects I became particularly interested in maternal and child health after reading the work of a woman who works in AmeriCares Middle East and Africa partnerships, Elikem Archer. A part of the internship is to write a blog post that is shared on AmeriCares Global Health Blog, so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to talk with Elikem personally.

The blog post is about AmeriCares One Child One World program, which is a nutritional education and assistance program in Ghana and the post also delves into maternal and child health issues across Africa. If anyone is interested in reading more, click here! Feel free to like or share it on Facebook and Twitter. They are offering the intern who gets the most shares a prize at the end of the internship.

I am excited to keep finding things to love about AmeriCares and the great people who work there.