Anjali Nemorin – The “First” Steps…

Hello web-world! I will be using this platform to document my travels to and throughout India this summer. Through the Summer in South Asia fellowship program at the University of Michigan, I will get the opportunity to travel to Bangalore, India to work with a non-profit organization called Child Rights and You, or CRY for short. This public health NGO is doing amazing work to further child rights all over India by increasing children’s education, rates of vaccination, and overall quality of life by reducing rates of child labor and child marriage as well. CRY does this by employing methods similar to the community-based participatory research model. This means that they go to different areas of India and help communities realize and understand their responsibility to ensure the children of their communities reach their full potential and experience happy, healthy childhoods. They identify their strengths and weaknesses and partner to come up with ways to individually and collectively improve the lives of children.

CRY was one of the first NGOs I found when researching different internships I could do in India back in November.  Like the title of this blog post suggests, this is not one of my first steps of applying for this internship. I did a lot of research and weeded through many organizations before landing on this one. Firstly, I was compelled to engage in this work because of the wide range of issues CRY tries to solve – child education, marriage, labor, etc.  Having a flexible and interesting workload is very important to me (and part of the reason I decided to study Public Health in the first place!), so I am excited to help with any and all projects I am tasked with. I was able to Skype with two of my future supervisors, and hearing the enthusiasm and passion they have for their work just made me even more excited to meet them and help enact important change in India. I was and still am very impressed by their vision and mission, and I can’t wait to work alongside the staff at CRY as well as go into communities and hear individuals’ stories.

While interning, I will also be conducting a research project. My research question (so far) is: How are the community health needs/priorities incorporated into all stages of CRY’s partnership with these communities? I am interested in this research question because recent literature (and what I’ve learned in my School of Public Health courses) has explained that giving communities the space to have a voice throughout the development and implementation of programs that are being done in their communities is imperative to the success and sustainability of these initiatives. It creates a sense of trust and partnership rather than an NGO “saving” a “helpless community.” All individuals and communities have strengths and are able to help themselves to some extent, so it is important to acknowledge and utilize these traits, not only to solve the problem of interest, but also to build efficacy and empowerment among the people in the community.

So, I will be off to Bangalore in mid-June to delve into my internship and research. I plan to stay in a hostel-style place right by the NGO, and I can’t wait to explore the “international” city of Bangalore. The last time I traveled to India was with my family about 7 years ago, and I’ve never been to Bangalore before so I’m so excited to explore one of my home countries as a young adult on my own. As I keep looking into flights and accomodations, I feel myself getting more nervous – How will I know how to get around? What if I get lost? What will it be like to not be able to eat a salad for 6 weeks? But overall, I feel grateful, excited and so fortunate to have this opportunity to learn more about myself, enrich my passion for public health work, and help others in a meaningful, lasting way.