By: Kayti Baur, MSc Candidate in Community Health and Epidemiology
Chloé Blackman, a Master’s student in Community Health and Epidemiology here at Dalhousie University, was awarded one of the Global Health Office’s Queen Elizabeth Scholarships (QES) to study in Tanzania in the summer of 2019. Her QES placement offered a hands-on experience to learn about the Tanzanian healthcare system with our partner, Pastoral Activities and Services for People with AIDS Dar es Salaam Archdiocese (PASADA). PASADA is a community-based social service agency that offers healthcare services to vulnerable and underserved populations living with HIV/AIDs.
Chloé entered the program open to new learning and cultural experiences, having high hopes of soaking up as many new skills and life lessons as she could – a goal she believes she accomplished. Although wistfully talking about wanting to return to Tanzania in the future, Chloé packed a lot into her three-month adventure.
When Chloé arrived at PASADA she rotated through several areas of the clinic– from working with vulnerable populations, to the tuberculosis clinic, and to intake and registration. Ultimately, Chloé chose to work in the laboratory. Although not everyone who goes through the program is able to find an exact match between their studies and their work assignment, Chloé was able to develop a project with an epidemiology spin. For the next several months she worked on a study doing basic evaluation on the effectiveness of enhanced adherence counselling at reducing viral load among HIV-infected patients, work she says she enjoyed completing and hopes will be meaningful for the clinic. Outside of her placement, Chloé and Samiah Alam, another student from the QES program, were also able to work on a paper related to the Global Burden of Disease, which keeps them connected to Tanzania moving forward, and will hopefully be published in the future.
Chloé speaks highly of the cultural experience she had in Tanzania, having enjoyed expeditions to other places, including Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. One memory from her trip that really stood out for her was visiting a local charity for families with children sick from cancer. She says getting to know the families and the struggles they were enduring was an experience that will stay with her for life.
Photo: Rehema & Chloé in Sawhili Lessons
When asked what advice she would give to people thinking about attending the program, she highly recommended learning to go with the flow and to laugh at yourself early on in the process. As you’re adapting to a new culture and language, things are bound to get a bit confusing for everyone – clearly those Swahili lessons are important! Chloé also recommends exploring outside your placement, engaging with the Canadian Embassy for events and experiences, and really making sure you enjoy the time you’ve been given there to explore and get to know the local culture. Overall, Chloé says the program was a unique once in a lifetime experience that she would encourage others to take part in.
“I am beyond grateful to all the amazing staff, volunteers, and patients at PASADA. Thank you for taking the time to teach me everything – from Swahili to the work you do. This experience would not have been the same without all of you.”
Photo: Michael, Sacharia, Desdore & Chloé
For more information on global health experiences please visit the Global Health Office website.