MY INTRODUCTION TO HUMAN AND PLANETARY HEALTH
My interest in community health began when I formed a relationship with Friends of Kenya Rising, with whom I initiated and led a project called Changing the Cycle. Through Changing the Cycle, we were able to conduct menstrual health workshops and provide menstrual cup kits to their menstruating high school participants.
At the time, the fact that menstrual cups were sustainable was a bonus. Since this project, however, my focus has been to learn about and work more intentionally at efforts that emphasize both human and planetary health. Let There Be Light International’s solar programming in partnership with local NGOs is a great example of how it can be beneficial to simultaneously brighten people’s lives and protect our planet.
During my time working with LTBLI, I have worked mainly with Sarah (LTBLI’s executive director), Jean (LTBLI’s new Deputy Director), and George Mike (one of Solar Health Uganda’s Energy Poverty Consultants) to communicate impact. For instance, I updated LTBLI’s timeline to include more recent milestones (such as One Million Lives Impacted!) and created a photo book to demonstrate the impact more visually.
A deep dive into LTBLI and SHU’s data and resources illustrated to me how solar lights brighten lives in a multitude of ways. I became particularly interested in how solar-electrification of health clinics impacts a community, creating a Healthcare and Energy Access flipbook that narrates the ways that solar-electrification of health clinics changes lives.
On an even broader scale, I designed LTBLI’s Program File and Partner File for 2022. This was an amazing opportunity to really get to know LTBLI as an organization, their work, and the valued partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa that implement the programming in off-grid communities.
Creating a zine about LTBLI’s work in terms of the UN Sustainable Development Goals was a great way to think about LTBLI in terms of global partnerships and the messaging around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Through my internship, I was also able to virtually attend the UN’s High Level Political Forum (HLPF) where progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is discussed. It was an immense learning opportunity that made me feel proud to be working with LTBLI.
One of the things that initially drew me towards LTBLI was the focus on combining both direct impact and systems change work. The HLPF constantly reinforced the importance of this model. By pairing solar-electrification and solar light distribution with advocacy, LTBLI is both impacting one million people today and ensuring that we have a more sustainable and healthful tomorrow.
This internship has been the perfect way to use the knowledge I’ve gained in school, to learn more about the issues that I care about, and to practice how I, and other students, can affect change through interning with organizations who share our values. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from LTBLI, and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned here to my work in the future.