My time at Gardens for Health International has taught me so much about the global health development field. One of the lessons I have learned during my time with the organization is to take every opportunity to go into the field.
On days where I go into the field, I wake up at 4:30 AM to take a two-hour bus up to a district in the mountains named Musanze. After the bus ride there is another hour to hour and a half car ride depending on the health center. Then, we are put to work at the health center, only to do the same commute again later in the day. As a college student on summer break, I was definitely not prepared for this intense schedule. However, after a couple trips to Musanze, I realized why it is so important to go into the field. For the families Gardens for Health is working with, it means so much when visitors from the main office come, and I can see how much joy it brings them to learn about nutrition. Being able to see the impact GHI has on communities like the ones I visited make every long day worth it.
Additionally, being a part of a staff with significant cultural barriers has taught me so much about interacting with coworkers. When I first started at Gardens for Health I found it hard to get to know my colleagues as a majority of the time they were speaking Kinyarwanda. I soon became comfortable inserting myself into conversations and they gladly would respond to me in English, and often go out of their way to talk to me. Because of this, I have become so much more social at work, and I really feel like I have become a full-fledged member of the GHI team. These interactions taught me that you should never be afraid to talk to anyone you work with.
I also now have a deep appreciation for GHI’s unique work environment. One of my favorite things about working at Gardens for Health is that I have access to fresh produce. Every. Day. For usually no more than a dollar, I am able to buy fresh vegetables from the GHI farm like carrots, beats, spinach, chard, and other incredible Rwandan favorites. I am also able to take a walk to local markets if I get tired of staring at my computer, visit the goats and other livestock, and just walk around the farm on a nice day. I learned to appreciate this working environment so much more than I did at the beginning of this internship, and it makes me really think about how special this summer real is. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Gardens for Health and I will certainly be thinking about the beautiful GHI farm on the next Brandeis snow day.
-Eli Wasserman ’20