May 04, 2011
It’s amazing to realize that you can completely change your life in fewer than 30 days when you have the passion and motivation to do so. We often set our own limitations and roadblocks, but I think we can achieve anything we set our mind to. We might just need some patience and flexibility along the way, but once you take that first brave step, a whole new world opens up to you. Perhaps like many other volunteers, I found the first step difficult, but I have not looked back since.
Lynda Barton is volunteering with MOTECH through Grameen Foundation's Bankers without Borders program.
For years I’ve been interested in healthcare and microfinance, and the potential benefits that such initiatives can bring to the developing world. I’ve researched a number of organizations, in the hope of someday gaining first-hand knowledge by working with them in the field. Grameen Foundation really impressed me with its healthcare-related initiatives around the globe.
Given an incredible opportunity to help with one of Grameen Foundation's projects in Ghana, I took a courageous step in January and requested a nine-month leave of absence from the pharmaceutical company I had worked for in Switzerland since 2000. I was excited and terrified to take such a risk professionally, but I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing for me. I also knew that that the experience I’d gain clearly outweighed the perceived risks.
I was in the Ghana office by March 9th learning about Grameen Foundation's Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative, which uses innovative mobile phone-based solutions to help provide healthcare access to pregnant and new mothers in rural communities in Ghana. It's an exciting project and the team is very busy planning an expansion of its pilot program, to eventually scale up to the national level (pending funding).
I'm still getting up to speed with the details, but have been learning about the applications they use to capture client health data, as well as learning about the system for alerting clients about upcoming vaccinations and check-ups. The application/tool also delivers tips and useful health information to registered users. I feel very privileged to be helping this unique and talented group of people to accomplish such a sizeable task. I was expecting the pace to be slower than the office environment I left in Basel, but people here are really motivated by the project, and are often in the office beyond their scheduled workday.
Only two weeks into the assignment, I had the privilege of meeting the President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, Alex Counts, who visited our site to see our work first-hand. He was accompanied by David Edelstein, Director of the Grameen Foundation Technology Center, and Robyn MacIntire, Grameen Foundation’s Regional Director of Development. It was a wonderful opportunity for our entire team to meet these individuals and to learn more about the vision and passion that drives the company. We were all very inspired by their visit.