I live in Senegal because I work here and I am thankful for my job.
As I explained previously, I moved to Dakar in August to work for a nonprofit and non-governmental organization as part of a US-based fellowship program. Since I did not go through the regular job application process, I am not an employee of the organization. In fact, I am a consultant according to my contract. That said, my current role is quite dissimilar from my previous consultancy jobs.
From Monday to Friday, I interact with or complete tasks to support members of the research, monitoring and evaluation teams in the 10 countries of the WCA region at PSI. I work with the Regional Evidence Leader (my supervisor) and Regional Researcher (who lives in Cameroon) to write or edit reports, advocacy briefs and other documents. My role also involves developing and giving presentations for trainings, creating data collection forms and other related tools on a health information systems software, finding and reviewing literature, and checking on Stata the quality and accuracy of the data collected in the field. I speak, write or read in both English and French every day. I have also translated a couple of documents. In the process, I have strengthened my ability to communicate efficiently and effectively in both languages at work.
Since it is the weekend of Thanksgiving, I reflect on what I am thankful for concerning my job in this post.
5 Reasons Why I Am Thankful For My Job
It is relevant to what I want to do in my career
I am thankful for a job relevant to what I would like to do in my career. This role also provides an opportunity to apply some of what I studied. (Note: I have Master of Science in Public Health with a specialization in International Health and Health Systems from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health).
I like its location
Although my relationship with Dakar is complicated to explain and understand at times, I cannot deny that Dakar is one of the best cities where to live in Africa – especially as an expatriate. I love meeting people from every corner of the world who are here for various interesting reasons. I like having many options for what to do in my spare time. Further, I work in Sacre Coeur III – a safe, lively and up-and-coming neighborhood.
I have co-workers all over the world
Every week, I communicate with, hear or receive emails from people in different parts of the world. I like interacting with such a diverse group of professionals with different backgrounds and working styles.
I could not have asked for a better supervisor
Seriously. Since we met (on Skype) during my interview, my supervisor and I have enjoyed a good relationship. Besides being a travel enthusiast and blogger like me, he happily answers questions and shares his experience. My supervisor has also been patient, understanding and supportive as I dealt (and still deal) with different situations or challenges.
I work on exciting projects and gain valuable knowledge
Since I work at the regional level, I support activities in every country of the region. In the process, I contributed to tasks on HIV, social marketing, family planning, maternal and child health. My knowledge of HIV especially increased vastly through my work with the team in Guinea. There, I joined the early stages of a study on the behavior, attitudes and practices of some key populations at risk of HIV infection. In so doing, I participated in final reviews of the protocol and methodology, and the training of data collectors. Later, I edited the manual for data collectors and some questionnaires they will use in the field.
The most rewarding part of the trip was the training of data collectors. In one session, trainers asked participants to share their views on statements like “female sex workers are responsible for divorce” or “homosexuality is a divine punishment” to highlight misconceptions and the harmful effects of prejudice. Some participants, who are part of the study’s target population, responded to what is said about their profession or lifestyle. Others, who agreed with prejudiced statements, reminded me that one’s background affects us so much that even kind and well-meaning people can hold controversial and harmful views. More importantly, I am more aware of the importance to respect others’ choices and be careful about what I say on them.
I cannot stop being thankful for the possibility to have such experiences and meet the people I have met so far. Therefore I cannot stop being thankful for the reason why I live in Dakar.