Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Local Nonprofit with Global Perspective

I am a senior Anthropology major with a concentration in Community & Global Health. The Community & Global Health (CGH) program is an interdisciplinary concentration that focuses on both academic and applied matter within the broad realm of public health. One requirement within the program that emphasizes applied practice is to take part in some sort of research, internship, or volunteer experience in a health-related field. I decided to use my knowledge and skills in public health by interning at the Center for Victims of Torture.

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) is a local nonprofit organization with an international scope - if this sounds appropriately "Macalester" to you, you'd be right. CVT works with torture rehabilitation centers throughout the world to expand their ability to provide high-quality mental health services to survivors and to build sound financially stable organizations. At CVT I am working on a particular project within the International Services Department called Partners in Trauma Healing, or PATH.

PATH creates a network of rehabilitation professionals who provide intellectual and emotional support for the difficult work of providing healing services to torture survivors. PATH will work with ten centers focusing on three areas: mental health treatment and healing, monitoring and evaluation, and organizational development.

PATH will work with ten independent foreign torture survivor rehabilitation centers over five years. Centers will apply to be a partner in this intensive hands-on mental health and organizational training project. CVT expects to focus on centers located in communities where torture survivors live in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

This project is largely funded by a USAID grant and will span five years. My role is to provide logistical, administrative and research support for the project. It has been phenomenally interesting to see how such an internationally focused, thought locally located, nonprofit designs, proposes, implements and evaluates their projects. I have been able to witness and assist in all aspects of the project ranging from collecting applications from interested organizations and compiling briefing books to be sent with traveling field workers to assess the applicant organizations around the world.

It has definitely been a fulfilling way to put what I have learned at Macalester into practice and have illumined my interest in working at a health-related nonprofit organization in the future.