I wanted to take a little bit of time to write about the work we’ve been doing with the Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (CHIRAG), a grassroot NGO here in Uttarakhand. For the past six years, students from our program have participated in internship activities that have helped frame the theories we’ve been learning about in class through the practice of development work on the ground. CHIRAG’s work in the Nainital, Bageshwar, Pithoragarh and Almora districts encompasses a wide range of primary issues around livelihoods, healthcare (both curative and preventative), education, natural resource management (NRM) and community-based institutions. Obviously, with this wide range of program options we were each able to choose an internship that fit in to our specific interests and goals for the program. The internships range from designing market demand survey’s for poultry farms in the region to researching the impact of CHIRAG’s girl’s scholarship program to studying the quality of care provided at Primary Health Centers (PHCs) in the area. As our program begins to wind down, it’s exciting to be able to see how everyone’s internships are beginning to take shape.
My internship with CHIRAG is focused on examining the status of women’s health in the region through the comparison of articulated health priorities from different Village Health and Sanitation Committees (VHSCs) and physical outpatient data (OPD) from the clinics that CHIRAG runs in Sitla and Sargakhet. Through the comparison of articulated health priorities and women’s care-seeking behaviors, I’m hoping to be able to discern whether or not women’s health concerns are being addressed through CHIRAG’s curative program. This internship requires a lot of data analysis, which means that not only am I learning about women’s health issues in the region but I’m learning how to conduct public health data analysis to boot.
I think that one of the coolest aspects of this study abroad program is the fact that we all get to see what the work of development looks like on the ground. To be perfectly honest, having the opportunity to contribute in some small way to the social justice work that CHIRAG is engaged in is a humbling experience. More than anything, this internship has taught me how little I really know about the world around me and how much I still have to learn. I’m excited to see how the next three and a half weeks open up new ideas and new spaces for growth – both personally and professionally.
Thanks for listening everyone and stay tuned!