Hamza Mannan is a third-year political science major at the University of California, Santa Barbara who joined Direct Relief at the start of this year as a Research and Analysis intern through the Sarah Miller McCune Endowed Public Service and Internship Program, a year-long project which pairs students with local nonprofits. Below he reflects on his experience so far:
There are a number of reasons why I was drawn toward interning for Direct Relief, the most important being the organization’s public health and humanitarian aid focus that spans the globe from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Japan and Haiti. Additionally, I admire that Direct Relief focuses on identifying community partners who are deeply committed to helping people in need. The organic model of working with local healthcare organizations ensures that during times of crises, there are already trustworthy partners on the ground who can act as first responders.
Prior to starting the internship with Direct Relief, I had a chance to tour the headquarters. On a whiteboard inside of the warehouse which houses the thousands of medical supplies that are packaged and shipped daily, there were names of several countries where aid was scheduled for delivery: Cambodia, Philippines, Haiti, India, and to my surprise, Lebanon. In a country that suffers from weekly pockets of violence, where conditions for aid workers are unsafe, and where travel warnings are advised by governments across the world, Direct Relief makes sure that refugees that continue to flow in from Syria are provided care and proper treatment.
Currently, I am working on a project that involves aggregating the numbers of supplies used for midwife kits that Direct Relief has sent to developing countries. In order to reduce rates of infant and maternal mortality, Direct Relief helps train midwives and equips them with the necessary tools required for safe deliveries, especially in areas where access to healthcare is limited.
Another similar project focuses on the obstetric fistula program, through which Direct Relief helps deliver valuable supplies to partner facilities in order to treat this life-threatening condition in which prolonged labor causes a hole in the birth canal, resulting in incontinence.
Ultimately both of these projects will help Direct Relief identify which products have the greatest demand in treating patients and how resources to partnering facilities can be allocated more efficiently. As the internship develops, I hope to familiarize myself with data collection and storage software in order to help Direct Relief better manage its extensive maps on aid distribution.
Through this internship, my hope is that I will be able to work in the service of those who are affected by natural disasters, lack of health care, and everything in between that makes living conditions harder. There’s no doubt that working with a group of highly motivated and ambitious people will only make the experience that much more enjoyable.