STUDENTS FROM AARHUS UNIVERSITY HAVE RECEIVED A GRANT OF DKK 172,594 FROM DANIDA TO FUND THEIR DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

A small group of student volunteers from Aarhus University have just received a large grant of DKK 172,594 from Danida to fund an ambitious healthcare project. The money will help promote sustainable healthcare in one of Africa’s most impoverished countries. The two girls have just embarked for the jungle to run the project, and there is much good to be done.

2013.09.09 | Anne Shirin Ørberg

Ann from Public Health Science and Monica from Medicine at Aarhus University will soon be travelling to the jungle in Sierra Leone to promote awareness of health and disease prevention among pregnant women and small children. This fall the two girls will act as emissaries for the Masanga Outreach programme in Sierra Leone, where they are to manage the project for the next six months aided by a DKK 172,592 grant from Danida. Photo: Morten Nygaard Christensen

In Sierra Leone one out of eight women dies during childbirth. But at Aarhus University a small group of students are working hard to change this statistic.

Based on knowledge and experiences from their respective fields of study, the volunteers of the Masanga Outreach programme have developed a thorough strategy for promoting awareness of and engagement among the local population in Sierra Leone in healthcare initiatives for pregnant women and small children.  Finally, several years worth of plans will be brought to fruition, and it happens with direct support from Danida, who has granted DKK 172,592 to the project.

Sustainable development that will last

The core of the healthcare project is a close collaboration with the local partner; an association of nurses from the jungle village Masanga in Sierra Leone.  In practice, the work of the Danish and Sierra Leonean students will be to conduct workshops in the surrounding villages, educating the local population about health issues and pregnancy.

The vision is that, in the long run, the project will be 100% sustainable, so that the Sierra Leonean students can continue the work on their own:

“It is all about generating long-term changes and giving them something that cannot be taken away from them. Our first job is to make ourselves dispensable,” explains Monica Lauridsen Kujabi, who is on her 8th semester as a medical student. She elaborates:

“We are going to give them the knowledge, skills and motivation to proceed with the project, when we are no longer here. So in that sense, our tasks are not as tangible as they would have been if, for example, we were here to build a school or a hospital. But if you ask me, this is a much more durable solution.”

Interdisciplinarity generates value

The Masanga Outreach programme is all about health. But in order for a long-term development project in one of Africa’s most impoverished countries to succeed, it requires much more than just an awareness of health issues. 

That is why the Masanga Outreach programme is a collaborative effort between medical students and students from e.g. Political Science, who can contribute with organisational skills and knowledge of statistics, development policies and diplomacy.  Every six months a new team comprising of one health professional and one social science student will be sent to the jungle as representatives of the Masanga Outreach programme to manage the project.

The project is strengthened by the collaboration between different fields of study, says Christine Eg Clausen, a student of Political Science, who has just returned from her posting in Sierra Leone.

“It is so awesome when we disagree! My professional knowledge and competencies are constantly put to the test, and I gain new perspectives on how we may reach our goals. It is precisely these discussions that make this project so comprehensive, which in turn has enabled us to earn the stamp of approval from Danida,” she says.

Masanga Outreach posts updates frequently on their Facebook page. To follow the work of the volunteers, go to facebook.com/masangaoutreach

Facts

  • The DKK 172,594 grant derives from the Civil Society Fund, which is administered by Civil Society in Deveopment (CISU).  The Civil Society Fund is an organisation working under Danida.
  • CISU emphasises that the project is sustainable and rooted in the local community.
  • The grant is aimed specifically at building a local partnership with Sierra Leonean students from the Masanga Faculty of Nursing Student Club (MFNSC) and spans over the course of 14 months.
  • The goal of the project is to promote basic health awareness among pregnant women and children below the age of 5 in the rural district of Tonkolili. The work of the Masanga Outreach programme is to implement and facilitate workshops in the villages together with MFNSC, while simultaneously educating the nurses to manage the project themselves.
  • Masanga Outreach is a 100% non-profit organisation run by a small group of student volunteers from the Faculty of Health and School of Business and Social Sciences at Aarhus University.  Masanga Outreach is based in Aarhus and is an independent sub-project under the parent project MASANGA.DK.

Contact

Anne Shirin Ørberg
stud.scient.pol.
Communications Manager, Masanga Outreach
Tel.: 28258240
Mail: anneshirin@gmail.com

Media
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