Navigating Non-Profits

After studying abroad the fall semester of my junior year in Geneva, Switzerland, where I spent time learning about the operations of major international institutions and NGOs, I knew that I wanted to look for opportunities working for a smaller, more direct service oriented international non-profit. I spent a lot of time looking at the mission of NGOs in the Boston area and SBHF really stood out to me. The organization’s dedication to provide well-rounded health care to any patient that walks in the door, while also working to empower the community through a wide variety of programs, and its commitment to keeping a majority Haiti staff really drew me to SBHF. I think that this organization is an outstanding example of what holistic healthcare means. As the non-profit industry is incredibly vast, and this insight has provided me with the tools needed to navigate various opportunities in the future.

Going into my senior year at Boston College, my experience as the Development Intern for the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation has provided me with a sense of confidence and direction in my path for life after graduation. Having the opportunity to work alongside staff from various departments throughout the organization has given me insight about what each role entails and which types of roles I hope to see myself working towards. My experience at SBHF has also provided me with many of the technical skills needed for working in non-profits while also engaging my perspective on international development and global health work. I think the biggest takeaway I have gained from this experience is that with confidence, drive, and dedication to goal (or entire mission of an organization), it is possible to achieve incredible things. I witnessed this so many times in my work at the organization, whether it be the installing of a waterline in the rural mountain town, flying in patients that could not be treated anywhere else in the country, or the treatment of a burn victims with a new skin graft machine. There have been so many times where I have been in awe of the work and people involved with SBHF both in the Newton office and in Haiti, and I am very humbled to be have been a part of it.

 

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Contradictions & Compassion in Global Health Work

hospital

It is difficult to find a place on earth that is more unlike rural Haiti than Newton, Massachusetts.  As I make my morning commute outbound on the Green Line with an additional mile walk through well manicured suburban neighborhoods, the thought of what it may be like to be waking up in the rural town of Fond-des-Blancs continuously crosses my mind.  Nestled in the mountains of southern Haiti, the community rises each day with the challenge of getting by in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In an attempt to bridge these two communities the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation works to reduce unnecessary suffering and improve the standard of living for the southern peninsula of Haiti.

My passion for work in Global Health and Development has been inspired and cultivated throughout my past three years at Boston College. As an International Studies major with minors in Medical Humanities and Philosophy, I have spent a lot of time exploring the theories, policies, and ethics involved in international development.   This has provided me with an understanding of the importance of sustainability in non-profit operations. SBHF upholds this standard through its holistic vision of health and its commitment to the community–as 98% of employees are Haitian.  This has shaped my perspective while completing daily tasks such as donor data entry, taking phone calls, and editing newsletters, as I better understand how my role is integral in achieving the organization’s vision. 

Most importantly, Boston College has provided me with a deeper understanding of how compassionate actions must uphold the dignity of every person.  For St. Boniface, this means never turning a patient away.  While skyping with the Haiti office in a recent meeting, two premature babies were flown to the Hospital  to receive the care that could not be offered in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. These moments of limitless care fill me with a sense of a humility throughout my work and bring me to a fuller understanding of solidarity and service.

Written by Megan Keenan, BC Class of 2017