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Lindsay Vander Hoek

Employer: Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
Position: Volunteer Intern
Location: Mwana, Tanzania
Dates: September to December, 2006

For my ENVS internship I had the privilege of working with Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC). The organization focuses on bringing transformational development to areas of the world that experience poverty and injustice, among other things. I joined Steve and Jan Michmerhuizen in Mwanza, Tanzania (East Africa) from September to December, 2006.

The main goal of my time was to write a report comparing aspects of the environment to community health. This include many things, more than just those that will be mentioned here. I developed a database of information about the health of children under 5 in a nearby village that CRWRC has been involved in since 1991. The program in the village is known as Community Based Health Care (CBHC), using a child’s weight vs. age to theoretically determine their health, and therefore the health of the larger community. I also worked with CRWRC to carry out Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) research in the village to find out information such as the amount of rainfall by year. The RRA information collected along with the health data was written out in a report, still underway, to compare the research to the health data, as well as show the success of the CBHC program. I also did a series of interviews with various non-government organizations in the area to expose myself to different practices and goals of other organizations.

My time in Tanzania taught me many things, including (some) Swahili and Tanzanian culture, how community development works, how to use MS Excel, as well as gave me exposure to many thought provoking situations. I didn’t learn in depth about environmental issues affecting the whole country but rather focused on one small area. I was still able to see how dependent peoples lives are on the environment. I also came to understand that people in impoverished situations need both support and encouragement in order to see that they do have the hope, knowledge and means to make better lives for themselves without relying completely on outside sources.