I would say that one of the most unique aspects of the Bush Fellowship Journey has been the license to invest in our personal wellness and growth. For someone whose profession is defined by providing service to others through medical care, and whose personal life is also an extension of service (caring for our children and supporting my family in Ethiopia), I needed the permission and the opportunity to invest in myself. That is what Bush fellowship gives us. In my Bush fellowship plan, I said that I would like to expand my network, my leadership skills, learn how to be a better story teller but also take the time to fill my cup so I can give more to others.
From leadership and networking perspective, I am excited to have been accepted to join the 2023 North America Leadership Cohort of Women Lift, A leadership training program for mid career global health women leaders. This was a competitive selection process and I am sure being a Bush Fellow has helped. This program will launch in May 2023 and is fully funded but I look forward to using my Bush fellowship funds to engage in global networking events that spawn from the Women Lift program. One such event that I hope to attend is the Women Deliver Conference in Rwanda this summer. The conference brings community women's health champions, funders, policy makers, and country leaders in the same space to discuss ways that we can work towards a more equitable world for women.
From a personal wellness perspective, I have had a challenging year in 2022 with sudden loss of my younger brother and a personal health challenge learning to live with a chronic disease. These challenges have taken a big toll on me but one thing I am very grateful for is my decision to practice self compassion through meditation as part of my Bush Fellowship journey. I took a week long Medicine and Compassion retreat in the fall of 2022 and I will do another week long retreat in Nepal in the fall of 2023. I have made friends with a special community through this retreat and I look forward to seeing them again. I have also been working on my daily meditation/Yoga practice all of which have alleviated some of the suffering. I think setting the intention to prioritize personal wellness as part of my Bush Fellowship has come in when I needed it most. They say that when you verbalize your intentions, you have a higher chance of following through with it. I have found it to be true in this case.
My other goal for my fellowship journey was to hone my skills as a story teller. I have been fortunate enough to be connected to an incredible documentary film crew from Ireland who will be partnering with me to work on a mini-film to highlight the issue of maternal health inequities in low resource countries . We will be partnering with our global partners in Uganda to capture the story of a woman in Uganda who has suffered and healed from obstetric fistula, a terrible birth injury due to obstructed labor from lack of access to obstetric care. I look forward to traveling to Uganda to do this work this coming summer and to explore ways to use this to raise awareness among the global community. I have also been volunteering to speak to media about health equity issues. Although a lot of these media invitations are facilitated through my university, I suspect that being a bush fellow likely contributed to my visibility.
Lastly, I have really enjoyed reading what my amazing Bush fellowship cohort members have been sharing on our shared space. It is wonderful to learn that we are all struggling and thriving at the same time. It is also great to be inspired knowing that there are incredible people in the world who are doing their best to make a difference. It is a beautiful antidote to what we see and hear on the media.