Who are the volunteers behind the projects?
Our members aren't only engineers!
Meet Judy Hodge, veterinarian and public health consultant by day, and Usalama's co-public health lead by night. Judy currently lives in Manitoba, Canada, but is still an active member of the Usalama project.
Judy, what's your day job?
I'm a public health veterinarian with the Government of Manitoba, Canada in the department of Agriculture. I work closely with the departments of (human) Health and (wildlife) Conservation to prevent and manage diseases that affect both humans and animals (called "zoonoses"), such as rabies, anthrax, and lyme disease.
What's your role in EWB?
I am the co-public health lead for the Usalama project, so we're responsible for conducting the project's impact on health in the community. I travelled with the engineering team in January 2013 for the assessment trip and we conducted focus groups and interviews with community leaders, water board members, and healthcare providers. I took this information back to the health team and we developed a survey to assess health and access to drinking water. In August 2013, right before the engineers arrived for the implementation phase, we travelled to Usalama and conducted the surveys at almost every household. This information will be our baseline data on health. In February 2017, we will return to Usalama to re-administer the surveys and then see what impact the project has had on the community! This information will hopefully be helpful in improving future projects in the community and for the EWB-NY chapter.
What got you started with EWB?
In September 2011, I became the Projects Coordinator for the Global Public Health Action Network (GHPAN), a student-led group based in the Master of Public Health program at New York University, where I was also a student. We worked closely with EWB-NY to link students in public health with volunteer opportunities in EWB, benefitting both parties as the students get valuable real life experience! In April 2012, my term with GPHAN was ending and I was excited to be a volunteer on an actual project! The former President of GPHAN, Katie-Sue Derejko, volunteered with me and together we have been co-leading the health assessment and will travel together to conduct the final surveys.
What’s your favorite thing about EWB?
Definitely the people! I love working with people from different disciplines and I love the diversity of engineering -- my favourite question to ask new colleagues is, "What kind of engineer are you?" I've learned a ton about engineering (and even learned how to survey... that was a long time ago in 2011, surveying for practice in Central Park... I was glad all the engineers in our January trip stayed healthy so I didn't have to step in! I'm not a great surveyor, haha!). Veterinary medicine has similar diversity, but often people only know the dog&cat kind, so it was fun to also expand awareness of veterinary medicine in public health!
What’s the biggest challenge with EWB?
Fundraising. It's a constant challenge and no one likes asking for money, but it is so important and we made it as fun as possible I think! At one event we posted a picture of a math problem that I took at an elementary school in Grenada -- it was fun to watch the engineers work it out! We also had the band "Charming Disaster" come to one of our events, which was also fun!
As the Usalama project wraps up, what’s next for you?
I'm working with the NGO Community Veterinary Outreach to organize a pilot clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in April 2017, which will provide preventive veterinary medicine homeless and marginally housed people and their pets using a "One Health" approach to also provide human health services at the same time. Another important issue here is the lack of access to clean drinking water in First Nations communities right here in Manitoba.
What would you say to people who want to get involved?