Are you passionate about global maternal and child health? Do you want to learn how to make real-world impact on the ground by actually doing it? Are there any skills you want to hone related to research, programming, or international development? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then apply to join the SAFE team in Uganda this year!
SAFE has been taking students, recent graduates, and professionals to Uganda to partner with rural communities to improve maternal and child health for almost 10 years. We have opportunities both in research and in programming, and are looking for the right candidates to fill each position as a vital component of our dedicated team. Projects descriptions are below:
Survivor Stories: Student will utilize story-telling to influence birth preparedness and care-seeking behaviors. SAFE emphasizes compelling storytelling and listening to the community’s perspective. The story-telling can take a variety of forms—audial, visual, mixed—all aimed at positive behavior change for improved community health. Project will be conducted in partnership with past SAFE program beneficiaries. Background in storytelling and qualitative interviewing is helpful.
Surgical Capacity Assessment: SAFE seeks to better understand local surgical capacity. Student will conduct a literature review and design/implement a mixed methods evaluation to assess access and quality of surgical care, with emphasis on the Bellwether procedures. Background in mixed methods research is required.
SAFE Facility Support: SAFE seeks a clinical health student (medical, nursing, or physicians assistant) student or recent graduate to facilitate a mixed methods assessment of the health facility we run. Activities will include a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the facility’s inventory and case load, forecasting of case load by type of cases by month and by year, observational assessments and in-depth interviews, that should inform a discussion about new ways to link the community to the facility and increase intervention utilization.
Community Partners: Student will partner with an assigned community group to develop new community outreaches and implement them at a community health fair. Community groups utilize music, dramas, and songs to educate the community about topics such as the Three Delays, the importance of seeking antenatal care, nutrition, family planning, birth preparedness, and the need for male involvement during the pregnancy timeline. Ideal student for this position has a background in health education, theater, or another related topic.
The RESCU-ME (Rural Emergency Surgical Care for Under-5 and Maternal Emergencies) Project: Student will work with SAFE staff to expand a comprehensive emergency referral network for surgical care need during and after birth. Emphasis of this project will be placed on partnership and systems building, costing, advertising, and piloting an expanded model of a current system. Background in health systems or emergency medical services helpful; will gladly accept a multi-disciplinary team of students working together.
Tweena (“Even Us”): A Labor Support Program: An interdisciplinary team, comprised of a trained doula, L/D nurse, or midwife and a businessperson will work with our community group of traditional birth attendants to design and pilot a doula-like birth support program. The goal of this program is to repurpose TBAs to escort women to a health facility for delivery and help them provide socio-emotional support, while also helping them build it into a viable business.
Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Ambassadors: Student will leverage local leadership by empowering people to become MCH ambassadors. Student will set in place methods for MCH ambassadors to keep records of demographic information, update data quarterly to reflect accurate information, and act as local advocates of maternal and child health, leading by example through practicing positive health-promoting behaviors such as nutritional demonstration gardens. The project aims to turn local leadership into ambassadors who can educate the community on relevant health topics and be a source of mentorship and consultation for mothers and families. Ideal student for the project will possess knowledge of behavior change theory.
Olugendo (“The Journey”) Critical Referral Mapping: Student will restructure and streamline the referral system to enable pregnant mothers to receive the necessary care, particularly in emergency situations. Mapping of routes, available resources at each facility, and available health providers using satellite images and handheld GPS unit in the field to produce an interactive map will improve a mother’s ability to receive timely and adequate services in times of life or death. Helpful background includes exposure to or interest in GIS and knowledge of health systems strengthening.
Hidden Stories of Teenage Mothers: Teenage mothers are a marginalized group that experiences negative stigma, which can lead to the failure to receive sufficient health services and decreased health outcomes. Student will develop programs to specifically support teenage mothers with the goal of removing stigma and empowering teenage mothers to find a new start for their lives. The project will support teenage mothers to seek antenatal care, deliver in health facilities, and find their next steps post-pregnancy. Student must possess compassion and sensitivity; knowledge of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and education helpful.
Makuutu Community Group Expansion: As SAFE is expanding into a new sub-county this year, student will support the expansion process and the formation of SAFE community groups. The project will synthesize lessons learnt from existing community groups and set the foundation for new groups. Student will be improve their recruitment process, structure, and operation with the hopes of creating sustainable community groups that have the skills and passion to solve their communities’ health issues. Knowledge of health education and behavior change helpful.
The SAFE Ssebo (Man): Student will work to understand the male perspective on general, reproductive, maternal and child health decisions and services, and then help men organize into groups to lobby for health improvements in their communities, with emphasis on health issues pertinent to MCH populations.
A SAFE Story: Designed for undergraduate students or volunteers from non-health-related fields getting their first taste of global public health, this internship asks the student to live and work alongside a SAFE community group to understand the community group members’ lives, struggles and triumphs in relationship to maternal and child health. You will learn about qualitative interviewing techniques and develop a semi-structured interview guide before you depart for Uganda, then in Uganda you will interview each group member to document their individual stories as well as plan a maternal and child health outreach with the group as a whole. Any stories you gather may be added to a book SAFE officers are authoring about the struggles and triumphs of Ugandan families and their journey to improve maternal and child health. If published, you will be acknowledged as a contributing author.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Where will I live?
You will either live at the SAFE office in town, or in a village intern house, depending on the unique needs of your project. At either location, you will be staying with SAFE staff, and often with other students.
Question: What are the pre-requisites in terms of age, training, and background?
Pre-requisites are project-specific, though all volunteers must be adaptable, flexible, have cultural humility, and a desire and willingness to learn. Additionally, all volunteers are required to go through SAFE’s 7 week online preparatory course, which focuses on development ethics, maternal and child health, and skill/knowledge development specific to the project on which the volunteer will be working. We do take undergraduate students every year, and sometimes have families/groups for specific projects, but a majority of our interns are MPH, MD, or other terminal degree students. If you have questions, let’s talk!
Question: Do you take groups?
We love working with groups! But there has to be a good fit. We are committed to responsible, ethical, and long-term development work. That means that our volunteers really do have to possess the desire and ability to provide a tangible service to the community that responds directly to a stated need. We have worked with university groups, medical teams, and some families. If you feel that your group might be interested in working with us, reach out! We will gladly set up a time to chat.
Question: How much does it cost?
You will pay a program fee that covers the cost of your in-country transport, housing, and dinner every night you stay at SAFE-provided housing, along with programmatic staff who set up your accommodations and provide programming and translation services to the project on which you will be working. For individual students, the cost is $520 base + $180/week. The base cost covers expenses that do not change regardless of the amount of time you stay in Uganda—transport to and from the airport, supplies for cooking and sleeping, project staff to set up your accommodations, and a contribution to the project on which you will be working. The weekly costs include communication, translation services, food and accommodations, and project-related transport. If you are part of a group or arrange to arrive on the same day as three or more other volunteers, we can provide a discount to your program fee. For more information, please contact us. Other costs you should budget for include airfare to/from Entebbe, Uganda, visa ($100 at the airport), immunizations, malaria meds, breakfast, and personal expenses.
Question: How do students and volunteers cover the costs?
Many of the students who work with us receive grants from their schools. We are very happy to help you write proposals or provide letters of support or explanation. Students and general volunteers have also utilized personal fundraisers or letter-writing to earn money towards their in-country costs. We have a template form letter that accepted candidates are welcome to adapt to their personal needs, should it be helpful.
Question: How do I apply?
If you are interested in joining our team, please send an email to email@example.com with your most recent CV/resume, the top 2 projects in which you are interested, and a summary of what you are hoping to gain from your SAFE experience. We look forward to hearing from you!