Getting into Advocacy for the First Time

September 27, 2012
by Monica Salgaonkar, RESULTS Global Legislative Intern

I am currently a fourth year Anthropology major at the University of California, Riverside, which took a while for me to figure out. In my first year of college, I struggled with declaring my major and finding out what truly interested me. I took countless biology and chemistry classes and got average grades. At this point, I knew I needed to change something, but I was not entirely sure of who I was and what I was good at. But, college is all about trial and error, right?  I later came to realize that I enjoy working with people and sparking change.  I learned by working with various non-government organizations in India, that a smile on a child’s face is not something that can be faked and the fact that I could put it there was very rewarding.

In June 2012, I attended the UC Riverside Public Health Brigade in Honduras to build sustainable living structures for families in the village of El Cantón. In a matter of three days, we built showers, bathrooms, septic tanks, concrete floors, and supplied sanitation materials to prevent susceptibility to rural diseases. Interacting with the Honduran families was truly a life changing experience. We learned about prevalent rural diseases in rural Honduras.. In addition, we worked together to take preventive measures in creating a sanitary environment where they could carry out daily activities like cooking, sleeping, bathing, and washing clothes. This is really where my enthusiasm for global health came into play. I saw first-hand what conditions the Hondurans lived in and knew there was a way I could help.

In the summer of 2012, I decided to take on an internship in Mumbai, India, where I interned for two months with the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis. Under their initiative, Arogya Parivar (healthy family in Hindi), I worked under the social business model to help rural villagers battle diseases that should be of public health concern. In this model, Novartis facilitated the contact between doctors and villagers that would otherwise be non-existent. In the process of providing education to the villagers and getting the necessary diagnoses and treatments – all stakeholders benefited. In this model, the doctors got to meet the villagers in person, the villagers got the health care they needed, and the company was able to make a profit.  I saw this project in a dynamic light and begin to understand the complexity of implementing health initiatives in remote areas.

Learning about prevalent global health issues and how I can be an actor in preemptive measures is what drove me to seek an internship with RESULTS Educational Fund. How RESULTS works with governments, grassroots activists, global partners and various other organizations to build political will for more effective foreign aid to end poverty really interests me.

I believe that change is a collective matter consisting of various players working towards a greater goal to remedy global concerns. Being sensitive towards the experiences of low income groups is essential to even begin to make a difference. Through my internship at RESULTS, I hope to understand the RESULTS advocacy model and how I can work as an individual to support the cause. 

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