When I first approached SPECT with my interest in volunteering in Tanzania, I never could have imagined just how much I would learn during such a short period of time and the extent to which my experiences on the ground would not only inspire me to remain involved in the organization but also make me feel proud of the tasks I was able to help with, no matter how small they felt at the time.
For those who don’t know me, my name is Renata Mrema and my professional skills certainly aren’t based in the health care field. I’ve lived many lives, flipping between industrial operations, to the corporate world, and finally resuming my role later in life as a management student. Through my studies and life experiences I’ve found my passion in environmental, social, and cultural sustainability, with a focus specifically on tourism.
Through my university studies I was introduced to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and undertook a seminar to promote these goals as a SDG ambassador. While I think we can all agree there are many global challenges that numerous organizations are working tirelessly towards finding solutions for, the complexity and gravity of these challenges can be overwhelming to say the least. The SDG’s aim is “to set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all” – a end goal I’m sure we can all get behind (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/). One tactic that the SDG team encourages is for the public to select a goal that resonates with them, and to take steps, no matter how small, to help achieve that goal. In the past, I’ve always selected goal #13: Climate Action because I felt that I can wholeheartedly take steps towards achieving this goal in my personal life and I felt confident in my abilities to make a difference with this goal. As someone who is not educated in the fields of infrastructure, education, health care, or engineering I felt I was unequipped to contribute towards any of the skills-based goals and that they were simply out of my reach. It wasn’t until after my time volunteering with SPECT that I realized I can take steps to help with other goals too.
During SPECT’s Training of Trainers (ToT) course and regional hospital tours in the Mara Region I realized that SPECT is very much aligned with the SDG’s and fighting tooth and nail on a daily basis for goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being. As a long-time follower of SPECT’s work, what I failed to recognize is just how crucial the organizations work is to the sustainable development of not just specific countries, but to everyone globally. Their work affects everyone – people of all ages, all genders, and all socioeconomic backgrounds.
I’d like to share two of the UN Good Health and Well-Being targets with you and I’m sure you’ll see the obvious alignment between SPECT’s mission and what the UN SDG’s are trying to achieve:
- Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States
- Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks
For more information on this goal, I urge you to explore the UN Sustainable Development Goals website as listed here: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/.
I realize that by volunteering with SPECT I have only contributed a small fraction to the overall SPECT story, but for myself, this experience has had a profound effect that I believe I am just beginning to grasp. It has opened my eyes to the impact team work can have and that there is really a role in this organization for everyone. While I may feel that I cannot contribute much beyond organizational and administrative duties, knowing I can take this task off the shoulders of those who are more equipped to directly impact the health care of a community is a worthwhile cause that I cannot downplay. We all have unique strengths and abilities, and when we work together we can make improvements in leaps and bounds in areas we couldn’t have imagined possible on our own. Volunteering with SPECT has truly made me believe that with hard work, dedication, and team work, no goal should ever be seen as off limits or unachievable.
Renata Mrema SPECT Volunteer