Friday, June 10, 2016

Saludos desde Managua, Nicaragua! Considering the Power of "Being Human" in Public Health

The city of Managua twinkled below me as the airplane began to descend, its sleepy buildings and street lights huddling close to the earth. As I contemplated my personal goals and ambitions for the next nine weeks, working with the AMOS foundation through female empowerment across the urban and rural regions of Nicaragua, I worried that the trip would end up serving my own personal goals of gaining knowledge, experience, and character in the domain of public health instead of making some tangible change in the lives of the families I would soon meet. I did not simply wish to be a privileged foreigner, uneasy yet blissfully unaware, sampling these people's joys and suffering only for a night without sharing a part of me that will do some... good. Incredibly, as this week has progressed, the first of three that compose a global health practicum before going out into the field, I have already learned an immense amount of theories and techniques that will turn my ambition for effective altruism into action. Addressing my previous concerns, day one's modules coincidentally addressed power and privilege, and the ways in which they can be recognized and utilized for the benefit and empowerment of others. I recognized that power, and the unequal distribution of it, has been inherently existent in humanity and social interaction, and the idea that true equality could ever be attained across peoples is simply absurd. Ending poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease, and every social determinant associated with such suffering is inexplicably difficult, if not unattainable. Further, assuming that anyone suffering is constantly in "need," ever-vulnerable and ever-helpless, can only decrease efficacy and personal agency within these communities. Instead, we must realize that through this work, we must make the humble effort to give of our time, strength, and love to engage with those without. We must give our hearts, our very beings, because GIVING must be inherently good. In time, days can become lifetimes and communities can become nations. This world does not need saviors; it needs a friend.

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