The first weeks with Save the Children International has really exceeded all of my expectations. I have never in my life met so many friendly and welcoming people at once. Every morning the local custom among all staff members is three kisses on the cheek, handshakes and a "bump" in the shoulder. They give so much love to each other, which I deeply admire. After a lot of reading and learning from the people on the team, time has come for me to apply my knowledge and experience into the TransACTION program, which is the program I will be supporting the four months I am here.
TransACTION is a 40 million USAID
funded program which strategically are trying to prevent new HIV infections among most at risk populations (MARPs) in 120 towns and urbanized commercial hotspots associated with mobility and HIV spread along Ethiopia’s major transportation corridors. Their target populations are commercial sex workers (CSW), waitresses, truck drivers, daily laborers and HIV infected people. The program has been rolling for four years already, and 2013-2014 will therefore be the last year of implementation. One of the expected outcomes of the program is strengthened institutional and technical capacity of the local non-governmental organization (LNGOs) that Save the Children supports and implements the program through, and here we are at the core of my scope of work for this assignment. I will work with the identified LNGOs to increase their management capacity in absorbing large amounts of funding and managing multiple programs. Capacity building of partners is a cornerstone in TransACTION’s sustainability strategy in alignment with the Global Health Initiative
. In addition to learning about the TransACTION program, I have learnt a lot about myself these first weeks. To tell you the truth, it has challenged me on so many levels, both professionally and personally. It is not easy to directly get a clear picture of what my contribution can be the next coming months. You feel very humble while dealing with one Chief of Party, one Deputy Chief of Party and senior advisors on your team. I am sure I have a lot to offer, but translating my skills that include market access and health economics to a non-governmental perspective is to say it mildly, very challenging. On the other side, I have never felt such a deep meaning in going to work. And in fact, one of my first tasks here at the office is to prepare a mentoring strategy before going out to the LNGOs on mentorship visits. I will definitely not save the world, not even Ethiopia, but I will hopefully contribute with a fresh perspective and maybe some helpful tools on the way.