International HELP’s mission is to “educate, empower, and equip people in need to be health leaders in their community.” We do this by traveling to different places in need and training local volunteers to be community health workers who spread their knowledge and resources to help those around them. However, before we get on a plane and travel to a different country, we must be prepared and knowledgeable about what is happening there, what their needs are, and what resources they already have. To help us understand these aspects of the country, we conduct thorough research to create a country profile that includes information about the country’s demographics, health statistics, and health practices.
When creating a country profile, it is broad enough to be related to the entire country rather than one specific area. This is intentional so that the country profile can be used for multiple projects in different regions of the country. We later gather community-specific data to further concentrate on the issues of that specific community. The broadness of the country profile allows us to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the country as a whole while also being able to make important decisions related to training programs. For example, it is beneficial to know if a country has a wet and dry season to ensure that our organization and community members traveling from other areas can make it into the rural community that we are heading to without barriers such as flooding. This is just one example of how profiling a country allows us to create a training program that is the best fit for the community.
Another crucial aspect of a country profile is that it helps us better understand the people of the country. As an organization, we aim to work alongside the community members while being sensitive to their culture and still addressing their needs. When creating the profile, we consider factors such as cultural practices, superstitious beliefs, and religions. This is important because we never want to be disrespectful or harmful to a community; understanding these factors before working with them allows us to do our best to create positive partnerships and build rapport. As an organization, we aim to create a training program that is appropriate and as beneficial as possible for the community so that it can be sustainable and change the course of the community for the better and this starts by ensuring that we know as much about the country as we possibly can.
– Joslyn Solomon, Intern