In a nutshell: In September 2011 I completed my master’s degree in medical anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I moved to London after working in Delhi for 2 ½ years with the Clinton Foundation Health Access Initiative. I developed an early interest in HIV/AIDS and international development thanks to my mom, who was actively involved with various HIV/AIDS groups in the mid-1990s in Philadelphia (where I grew up). I graduated from Georgetown University in 2006 where I continued to explore my interest in international development by studying abroad/working in southern and east Africa. Outside of work, I am a huge book nerd and love early morning runs. My life goal is to do a marathon on every continent - 2 down, 5 to go.
How did Kopernik enter your life? Kopernik came into my life thanks to a good friend. I took a few international development classes for my postgraduate degree and was frequently frustrated by the sector’s struggles to meet the needs of people living in poverty in a sustainable, scalable way. After graduation I wanted to continue to work in this sector but with an organization that approached the same issues with a new perspective that prioritized sustainability and scalability. After my friend described Kopernik’s model and values, I knew I needed to find out more.
What role do you play in the Kopernik team? I am currently a Kopernik Fellow based in Orissa, India. I am working on three projects with two organizations, all of which serve rural villages with tribal, scheduled caste and other backward caste households (historically the most marginalized and impoverished). I am conducting evaluations for the D.Light S10 solar lanterns sold in Daspalla Block, Nayagarh District with the Orissa State Volunteers and Social Workers Association (OSVSWA). I am also assisting OSVSWA with the baseline evaluation and distribution of Tulip Water Filters to 500 households in Puri District. The district was devastated by floods in September and many residents living below the poverty line have not had access to clean water since. Thanks to the generosity of the donors, Daiwa Securities Japan and Russell Investments Japan, the filters will be distributed for free. I am also working with Auro Mira Service Society to install Driptech irrigation systems on 66 plots in Kechla village. I will conduct baseline evaluations for that project as well.
What has been your most memorable experience to date? I love having a role where much of my time is spent trying to understand people’s expectations for and/or their relationships with the technology they have purchased. Many solar lantern owners in Khaligarti and Nardigoccha villages reported that their families were spending more time studying/reading because it was free to do so by solar light, as opposed to using kerosene lanterns; I never realized that studying could be expensive. I was also excited to hear that the Kechla farmers were discussing collectively using their drip irrigation systems for a high value crop like chili with the hope of bringing a buyer directly to the village to get the best possible price. And on a completely unrelated note, as I will likely never be living with a domesticated porcupine—quills and all—again, I am trying to appreciate the novelty of that opportunity while I’m staying in Kechla (despite how much she terrifies me).
What campaign or piece of technology is closest to your heart? I love the technology that is geared to improving agriculture practices and production. As they are implemented, those technologies will be a catalyst for continued growth and new opportunities for the owners.