Throughout the summer, SEAD interns will be sharing with us stories and experiences from their summer internships. Today's post comes to us from Vinesh Kapil who has been interning with USAID on the Saving Lives at Birth campaign. Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development works to find innovative ideas around the world that can help reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Vinesh shares with us the work he has been doing while in DC this summer.
After I pass through security, I settle into another day at the office. Sometimes I have to catch myself- if it weren’t for the multiple boxes of Spongebob macaroni and cheese in my cupboards at home, I would almost feel like I’m living the adult life. The heat, the busy commute, the work I do, it all seems so very real.
Through Duke SEAD, HESN and USAID, I am working on the planning and execution of the Saving Lives at Birth Development Exchange. My internship is multifaceted, fast-paced, and I can say with 100% accuracy that no day is exactly the same as another. The DevX, an event that brings together entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, donors and organizations from all around the world, is a chance for “game-changers” to showcase how their work is improving maternal and child health. It is a chance to share ideas, to learn from each other’s successes (and mistakes), and to inspire one another with the passion that pushed so many of the participants to find a way to improve health outcomes for mothers and children in the first place.
When I consider the internship at a more “macro” level, I realize that the goal of this project, indeed, the goal of the entire “Grand Challenge” from which it arose, could not be more real. The effect of such a program, funding these innovators, and exposing the public to what has been done, and what is left to do, is not only real work but it is one of the most worthwhile things I could be doing. Sure, I’m not in the field every day saving lives. And there are days when I wonder exactly how what I’m doing is improving health for others around the world. But then I recognize that the work I’m doing is contributing to a larger cause, to a larger machine. By doing my work (doing it well, I might add), I am helping to further a cause. So yes, some days, I might jokingly tell myself that the fact that I’m living the adult life is just an illusion. But I must remember that the work I’m doing is indeed real. It is concerning a problem that is a reality for many around the world and I am proud that I am able to contribute to alleviating those problems in my own way. It is an absolute pleasure to represent Duke here at USAID, be that as a young student pretending to be an adult, or an adult holding on to his Spongebob macaroni for all he is worth.