So this point in our project cycle is the end of the school year, so we have a whole lot of data entry, analysis, and report writing to do. Each year we give all of the students a pre and post health knowledge test and a pre and post attitude and behavior survey. The purpose of these is to see if the students learned anything new throughout the year and if it has had an affect on their health behaviors. We give it to the students at our control group and partner schools to see if the changes is score can be attributed to our program or to random other things happening in the community. Then we analyze the data and see if there is a statistically significant difference between the two groups. This is an incredibly boring and time consuming process, but it is part of what all organizations have to do to make sure that their programs are working. One of the fact of NGO life as it were. But as I am sitting here reading the exams and grading them, I feel like I am researching the lives of my students. The attitude and behavior survey asks them about washing their hands, cleaning, and what they eat. Basically it asks them what they do on a day to day basis to improve their health. It also asks for them to list three things they like about themselves. The difficulty of explaining this concept to the students has been surprising. You ask the average American child what they like about themselves, and they will be able to come up with a long list. The children here end up saying things they like to do, to eat, or nothing at all. It is strange and a little sad to me that our children can’t process the thought of self-esteem. I wish I could talk to them about it, but my Nepali is rudimentary at best, so we can’t communicate with one another. But through these exams and surveys, I think I am getting to know the CHHIP students a little bit better. And hopefully I will be able to remember that as I am analyzing numbers and writing reports. They aren’t just numbers, they are children that I have met and that I am slowly getting to know throughout my time here. I think this is something that all monitoring and evaluation professionals should remember. Many of them might not get the opportunity to meet the people that their program hurts with, but if they remember that the numbers are people, it will be like they are meeting them and learning a lot about them.
Megan believes that health is an integral part of international development. To achieve maximum potential within a community, that community needs to be healthy. She has come to this conclusion because of her experiences abroad and in the US during her undergraduate and graduate degrees. While in college, she spent a summer volunteering at an orphanage in rural Rajasthan. During this adventure, she saw the many health issues facing women and children in India, particularly in rural areas with limited access to health care. This trip inspired her undergraduate thesis and motivated her to pursue graduate degrees in social work and public health. While in graduate school, she solidified her interest in sexual and reproductive health and maternal and child health. These areas were the focus of her research and projects throughout school. She participated in an internship in India at MAMTA: Health Institute for Mother and Child in the summer of 2012. During this internship, she had the opportunity to learn about Indian health systems and adolescent sexual health schemes. She fell in love with India during her volunteer and internship experiences and wants to live there on a permanent basis now that she has completed her graduate degree.