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Keeping Up With Katrina

After her first few weeks in Chongwe, Zambia, Katrina Lewis has acclimated to the culture and drops us a line to say “muli bwanji”

May 26, 2016

It requires a leap of faith to travel to southern Africa for your first Co-op, but Katrina Lewis is embracing the experience with open arms and an open mind.

“The experience so far has been amazing and kind of indescribable,” said Lewis, who is only able to touch base periodically during her six-month tenure in Zambia. “I can’t believe I’ve met so many people in just one month of being here.”

Lewis is participating in an international Co-op arranged through a partnership between the Office of International Programs at the Dornsife School of Public Health and World Vision – an organization focused on tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. Lewis chose this program because of the opportunity to address significant public health issues in local Zambian communities, and to focus on women’s health challenges.

“I’m really excited to be working on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) which is a brand new World Vision project aimed at improving the menstrual hygiene of women and younger children in schools and local communities. They are looking to me to help get the project running by the end of my time in Zambia,” said Lewis.

The MHM project aligns well with Lewis’s academic and professional goals – to become a nurse specializing in women’s health.

In addition to helping women better understand their hygiene needs, Lewis is participating on the Sesame Project which uses puppets to help children understand water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) messaging. All of Lewis’s efforts are focused on improving health outcomes in local communities through education and prevention.

While Lewis is in the initial stages of her WASH and MHM projects, she has spent a great deal of time getting used to Zambian culture – including food.

“The basic dish here is nshima,” said Lewis, “and it’s different. I was proud of myself for trying it because I’m a very picky eater. I’ve even learned how to cook it and all my friends are requesting to try my recipe.”

Lewis will be fully acclimated to Zambian culture in no time! Be sure to keep up with Katrina as she moves forward with her international Co-op in Off the Charts.

 By Tom Grabiak ‘15