Welsh will bring health strategies to Ugandan villagers this summer
When it comes to traveling the world, Coloradan Margo Welsh says the most exotic place she’s been is Ecuador.
But that will change this summer.
Welsh, who is a Master of Positive Health Psychology student, is Africa-bound as part of the Uganda Village Project (UVP).
UVP deploys teams in Uganda’s Iganga District to focus on improving public health and sustainable development in villages with limited resources. Starting in early June, for two months, Welsh will be part of a team that will devise better disease prevention and survival strategies in one of the villages in the region.
“When I’m done with my degree, I want to do applied work and take what I’ve learned into the field,” said Welsh, who decide on grad school (and CGU) after spending several years in the blood banking industry as a manager and technician. “To be able to do that now in a place that really needs it is so exciting to me.”
Struggling for years under political turmoil and religious conflict, this nation of 42 million in east-central Africa suffers from a high mortality rate, a large population under the age of 15, and widespread challenges connected with malaria, HIV, and water sanitation.
Welsh, whose advisors are SCGH Professor Darleen Peterson and DBOS Professor Jason Siegel, said that each UVP team focuses on educating villagers and, in the absence of an effective national health infrastructure, helping them figure out local solutions to decrease their exposure to disease.
“So much of what we’ll be doing rests on education,” she said. “Solutions that seem simple or obvious to us aren’t to them. They just don’t know about these things, which is why we’ll be there.”
Because of her prior managerial experience, Welsh will lead her village’s team of six members, which will consist of three Ugandans (who can help with translation and related issues) and three international members. She said her team will focus on educational intervention, an evaluation component, and training a village health team (community volunteers who will continue once they leave in August) to continue the work.
When Welsh was considering a degree program, she said what appealed to her about CGU’s was the way that this degree combines public health training with positive psychology. She has nothing but good things to say about the program, which she likes for being inclusive of so many elements typically broken into separate programs at other schools.
“Most programs in the U.S. focus on just one aspect,” she said, “but this program brings all of those aspects together into one. You get the best of both worlds, and that was important to me.”