Letter to Applicants

In This Section

Dear All,

This is a message from Upenyu Health. We are a group of six who graduated from Princeton and Duke in 2010 and wanted to do health work in the field and not in offices. Since then our ambitions have grown, and we've found ourselves doing work far beyond the scope what most out-of-college graduates do. We're in a phase of expansion and are looking for people to join us both on the ground and in the states.

Currently, our work involves implementing two programs: one on schistosomiasis, a parasitic worm infection, and one on nutrition. The schistosomiasis program will begin in January, initially in the form of a study intended to examine the effects of treatment with praziquantel on anemia and nutritional status in 500 children. As part of the study we are treating the entire catchment area of Nyadire Hospital (nearly 20,000 people) which was our initial aim.

We are quite lucky because we have arrived in Zimbabwe at a time when the national schistosomiasis control program is being engineered. By doubling on that national effort (by getting to know some key people in government), we've greatly broadened our scope. In fact, in Zimbabwe, we're trying to become the government's main implementing partner in its schistosomiasis control program. Part of this role involves informing policy, procuring resources, elucidating strategy, and both overseeing and participating in local, ground-scale implementation in areas we choose.

Our nutrition program involves supporting the hospital's Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition program--a program to treat malnutrition in communities and not at often difficult-to-access central health facilities.

I know all this seems like a whole lot of responsibility for a group of students just out of college, and it is. Other organizations doing similar work--the Carter foundation, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, the Clinton Foundation, and the MSF Neglected Diseases Initiative--are far larger than we are. To be blunt, however, we have faith that our drive and resolve are enough to overcome any obstacles related to our youth. In Zimbabwe, we've managed to make progress in a way and in a field in which many other NGOs haven't.

The work is not easy. It's challenging and personally demanding. It requires determination and creativity, and the flexibility to handle a drastic change of plans at a moment's notice. You need to thrive in situations where there is no clear answer, to live off of three dollars a day for weeks on end, to be resilient in the face of setbacks, no matter how large, and to hold with an iron grip the belief that, with enough work and effort, anything (yes, anything) is possible. Forgive the trite wording--the message is true.

I am writing to announce the second round of applications to join Upenyu Health on the ground next year. We need full-time members with initiative and creativity to help us develop projects and see them through to implementation. We're working to build a team loosely led by one person (probably a masters student).

As a fellow you would work to expand Upenyu's work, either in Zimbabwe or in its other areas of investigation, and you would work to develop new projects (details about these projects will be discussed upon request). You would also be responsible for acquiring and procuring resources--in many cases, this could mean working with existing members to fundraise and win grants. Most importantly, you would be signing onto an ambitious, expanding organization, and your input would be sought in directing the organization's overall focus and progress.

There are other ways to get involved. If you are interested in joining us in an administrative or logistical capacity from the United States, please contact fellowship@upenyu.org. This would be a part-time volunteer position but we have great need for support in this area.

If you are interested in joining our team, write us a letter (preferably one page or more) and talk about yourself non-academically. Tell us why you are suited to this kind of work. Attach your resume and send the package to fellowship@upenyu.org.

We hope to hear from you.