by Jama Allegretto Lynch
Originally from Spencer, NY, Eva Koehler attended the University of Delaware as an Honors Program student from 2001-2005, graduating with an Honors Degree in International Relations, with minors in Economics and Music. During her sophomore year she traveled to South Africa via a winter session study abroad program, where she had the chance to volunteer with a local mission addressing the impacts of HIV/AIDS in a community outside of Pretoria. She returned to South Africa in the summer of 2003 via an Alumni Enrichment Award granted by the University of Delaware to volunteer full-time with the same mission, and then co-led a group of UD students who went to volunteer full time for four weeks in winter session of 2004.
The work in South Africa left two things certain in her mind: That good health is the foundation upon which communities can build better lives for themselves, and that she wanted to acquire more usable skills before returning overseas, so that organizations and communities could put her to use effectively. As such, she spent the year after graduation working in foundation and individual fundraising at the Center for Public Integrity in DC before pursuing a Masters in Public Health at Boston University. In addition to classroom lessons and student organizing work, she was able to take key lessons from working on a quality evaluation at Massachusetts General Hospital, and as a member of the advocacy team for Physicians for Human Rights’ Health Action AIDS Campaign during her graduate program.
After graduating, she worked at the Boston Public Health Commission managing grants for HIV/AIDS services under the federal Ryan White program. This offered her the chance to learn about health care in a city and state that have devoted enormous financial and human resources to improving the quality of citizens’ health, and to learn many basic systems of office management, reporting and planning. While keeping an eye out for ways to take her growing collection of skills overseas, she found out about the Global Health Corps, which partners with organizations to send teams of fellows for year long posts in the various skilled areas needed to keep a health system running. Village Health Works was one of several potential slots, and she was deeply impressed by the community ownership of the project and the deep needs which the project seeks to meet.
Her enthusiasm for the work increased when she had the opportunity to hear Deo speak in person and meet with him and Executive Director Sarah Broom when they visited Boston this spring. She was immensely excited to be offered the chance to serve as a Project Manager here, and looks forward to a year of working hard, learning much, and hopefully sharing the story of Village Health Works with as many people as possible.