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COPH Graduate Students Complete and Extend Peace Corps Service in Africa

| COPH | International, Monday Letter, Our World

Stephen Cormier with Community Partner in CameroonThis past week, two College of Public Health graduate students completed their two-year overseas experience as Peace Corps Volunteers through the Peace Corps Master’s International program, and a third COPH graduate student extended her Peace Corps service for a third year. Stephen Cormier and Aditi Desai wrapped up their service as Peace Corps Volunteers in Cameroon and Uganda, respectively, and Folashade Osibanjo received a third year extension to work with the World Food Programme in Zambia.

Stephen Cormier served in Fundong, Cameroon, where he worked as a Public Health Coordinator with the Better Family Foundation. The Better Family Foundation was established to empower local families both socially and economically by providing education, training and financial aid to families and communities in need.

Stephen focused his Peace Corps service on developing organizational procedures and capacity of the foundation, developing individual capacity of foundation staff, increasing the foundation’s presence and access to funding opportunities, and assisting in the management and support of short-term volunteers to assist in the foundation’s ongoing projects.

Along with his work, Stephen also immersed himself into the culture of northwestern Cameroon, developing fluency in Pidgin English and basic knowledge of the local language of Kom. A nearby village recognized Stephen’s dedication to service to the local community by awarding him a title that places him within an elite group of people who act as advisors to the traditional ruler.

Aditi Desai in UgandaAditi Desai served in Rakai District, Uganda, where she worked with the Rakai Community School of Nursing primarily as a Health Educator and also as an Information Technology Specialist. Aditi worked closely with students, educating them on issues of HIV/AIDS, nutrition, malaria, and other health concerns. Aditi also developed course materials for computer technology and psychology.

In addition to her work with the nursing school, Aditi was very active in the area of youth development and empowerment. She led nutrition, epidemiology, bottle rockets, physical education, and HIV/AIDS sessions at camps for both boys and girls, she acted as a counselor and mentor at two different camps for boys, and she directed a camp for the promotion of science and technology for girls. Aditi also assisted in developing, planning, and carrying out reusable menstrual pads trainings.

Folashade Osibanjo spent her first two years of Peace Corps Service as a Community Health Improvement Volunteer in Kasiamau Village in Eastern Province, Zambia. She was assigned to work with the Nsadzu Zonal Health Center, focusing on community outreach. Folashade worked with villages in her area to help them identify healthcare needs and develop sustainable solutions to those needs they chose to address, including environmental hygiene, HIV/AIDS education, malaria, and nutrition.

Folashade Osibanjo in ZambiaAdditionally, Folashade worked in various capacities with various non-governmental organizations including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CARE International, the International Potato Center, and others. She also participated in youth development programs, co-facilitating a girls’ empowerment camp and recently assisted with training for a new intake of Peace Corps Volunteers that arrived in Zambia in June. As Folashade neared completion of two years of service, she applied for and was selected to serve for one additional year as a Peace Corps Volunteer with the World Food Programme in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka.

Congratulations to Stephen, Aditi, and Folashade on completion of two years of service as Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa. Good luck to Stephen and Aditi as they wrap up their final academic requirements to graduate from the College of Public Health this fall, and good luck to Folashade as she transitions to a third year of Peace Corps service with the World Food Programme.