Need help affording my Africa internship

Cathy Buschmeier Start Date: Apr 14, 2018 - End Date: Aug 11, 2018
  • Lilongwe, Malawi

My Travel Story

by: Cathy Buschmeier Start Date: Apr 14, 2018 - End Date: Aug 11, 2018
As a Colorado School of Public Heath Masters Student, I am planning a trip to Lilongwe, Malawi this June for my practicum/internship. Partnering with Freshwater Project International I will be assisting in developing a menstrual hygiene management curriculum and a survey to aid in expanding their programs. Community health education through program development will put all of my MPH program learning into practical use. I absolutely cannot wait!

Here is where I need your help: this will be expensive. On top of regular graduate tuition (roughly $2,500) , this trip will cost me another $3,000. Below is more information on why this trip is so important, and the breakdown of costs.

Since 2012, Freshwater Project International has made a tremendous impact in schools, health facilities and village communities by developing WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) stations. Many of the schools and villages in Malawi are lacking safe, adequate water sources or latrines. These conditions lead to high rates of water-related diseases, mortality, and inhibit education. Utilizing the community strengths and resources, FWP works alongside the village to bring long lasting change and ensure healthy outcomes. What I like most about the organization is that they value sustainability and empowerment. FWP builds a local Water Point Committee with each project, and finds community leaders to teach the developed curriculum. Using the community's cultural leaders, FWP works hard to identify cultural values among the communities and respects their customs and land. FWP also has a Malawi Country Director who is available for assistance year-round, ensuring successful maintenance.

The average age a women starts menstruating in Malawi, is around 13 years-old. With menopause expecting to start at 50 years-old, on average, women experience around 1400 days of menstruation in their lifetime. In countries like Malawi, many women handle this menstruation period with poor, unhygienic, and inconvenient methods. Restricted by resources, funding, and knowledge Malawi women are left to deal with this reoccurring problem for a quarter of each month. These poor methods result in infections, infertility, and missed opportunities of employment and education. Freshwater Project International created a pilot Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) program in the spring of 2017. Although a great first step, this program has not proven to be successful for a few reasons, one of which is cultural appropriateness. The MHM program needs to be further developed, ensuring scientific evidence based, and a new implementation in Malawi to test effectiveness. I will be assisting the Program Director on improving this much-needed program in hopes that Malawi women will be able to maintain school attendance, be comfortable with their anatomy, live healthily, and improve their quality of life.

I am also partnering with a schoolmate of mine to bring supplies to the schools FWP already works with. They need pens, markers, note pads and so much more. Any donations, financial or physical, will be greatly appreciated. Anything above what is needed for my travels will contribute directly to the school supplies and Freshwater Project’s continued mission.

Budget Item. Est. Amount US$
International Airfare $ 1,800
Visa fees. $ 50
Airport transfer $ 40
Local transportation. $ 100
Equipment. $ 50
Accommodation $ 490
Meals $ 200
Immunizations $ 310
Int'l Health Insurance $ 60
Tuition and fees- 2 credits$ 2,500
Total $ 5,660

Thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart and the many Malawi women and children I hope to help this summer!

  • Lilongwe, Malawi