By Stephanie Iwunze
As a third year student of Public Health, a 6 month work experience with a public health or public health related organisation forms a compulsory component of my bachelors degree program. I looked forward to this experience from my first year in Baze because I just wanted an escape from writing tests and examinations.
The days leading to my first day at Connected Development (CODE) were a bit difficult for me to process. I was no longer enthusiastic about skipping tests and exams, instead I was wondering if I was ready after all.
I joined the team on a Tuesday in the middle of May. As an intern, the idea is to amass as much knowledge and experience as I can by working with all the departments in CODE. The programs department was the first department I worked with. Ruth Okafor, a programs officer was directly responsible for assigning tasks to me and the first task was to take notes for a meeting’s report.
Turns out this meeting was a weeklong workshop to review all the projects CODE is currently working on. At first I had no idea what was going on until I barely managed to make sense of the abstract words and acronyms I heard. Eventually, there was something I could fully comprehend without opening my dictionary or losing my train of thoughts; Project Sabi, a project aimed at tackling Gender-based Violence supported by Oxfam Voice.
Another project that resonated with me was EMOC (Empowering Oil Rich Communities) supported by the FORD foundation. The aim of the project is simply to amplify the demands of citizens in oil-rich communities. The strategy employed for this project which involves citizen participation is something I find interesting especially because progress has been recorded around government waste management in the focal state; Rivers State.
The “Girl Child Education” project in partnership with Malala Fund which seeks to address the current state of our educational sector is one other project I quickly picked interest in. My interest in this project is simply because it aims at ensuring the provision of 12 year free and compulsory education with no hidden charges. I am really looking forward to the education summit in Adamawa during the last week of July. During the summit, all the North-East governors will pledge their support towards improving girl child education in their states.
Thankfully, the workshop acted as a crash course on CODE’s activities for me.I also got to meet other staff members including the Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal. His humility and ability to cordially relate with everyone inspired me. I watched him motivate CODErs to think outside the box and acknowledge the little success stories they get. I was encouraged to put in my best while having confidence in my abilities no matter how small.
I was still trying to fully settle into the system when I was asked to join a team to draft a grant proposal for conducting a research on Violence Against Women and Children (VAW/VAC) from the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI). This formed part of my onboarding process alongside other relatively new staff members. It was a huge challenge because I had struggled overtime with working in teams and I had no idea what a proposal was supposed to look like. Overtime, I enjoyed working with my team. We went back and forth on different concepts, raised constructive criticism and learnt from each other before we finally sent in a concept note on our proposed research topic for approval.
My third week kicked off with a motor park town hall meeting for Project Sabi which is focused on stimulating a movement aimed at ending all forms of violence against Women and Girls with men as the advocates in the participating states; Lagos, Abuja and Enugu.
Apart from the fact that I could easily relate to the project, it was a big learning experience for me. I observed the project officers come up with ways to manage whatever situation was thrown at us within seconds. Some key stakeholders of the project like the NURTW, NAPTIP, NOA and MoWA were in attendance. They made their contributions to the meeting after which plans for signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) commenced.
I was assigned to the Human Resource department in my fourth week and I worked directly under our HR manager, Nene Ibeku. We were working on hiring a few support staff members for a project running in seven states so I assisted with drafting the terms of reference (TORs) for the different roles we were hiring. So far, this has been one of the most challenging tasks I have worked on but with Nene’s support and encouragement, I was able to put something meaningful together.
My time at CODE has been somewhat challenging but intriguing and I look forward to working with the several departments and doing even more challenging work before the end of my internship here at CODE.
Stephanie Iwunze is a third year student of Public Health at Baze University, Abuja. She hopes to use her experience at CODE as a stepping stone into an impactful Public Health career.