Emma Clark traveled
to Botswana this month to begin her research on “Understanding
Impediments to Traditional Healing/Biomedical Collaboration,”
a 10-month study of possibilities for positive interactions
among the country’s traditional healers in rural areas
and the government’s health care system.
the attitudes of biomedical and traditional healers toward
collaboration, the barriers that have prevented it from occurring
can be addressed,” explains Clark. “This will
hopefully make quality health care accessible to people in
even the most rural areas of Botswana, through systems of
referral and increased training in modern health care methods.”
Botswana, a landlocked
country north of South Africa, is grappling with high rates
of HIV/AIDS, and its citizens have the lowest life expectancy
(40 years) in the world.
For Clark, who
is from Auburn, Alabama, it’s a return to Africa, where
she traveled for her Junior Year Abroad to study at the University
of Cape Town in South Africa, during which she visited Botswana.
“I thought it was beautiful, and met a lot of really
great people,” she says of Botswana, “so I was
interested in going back.”
to the continent the following summer with a Praxis internship
to work at the Bwindi Community Health Center, a small clinic
in rural Uganda, assisting with collaborations between traditional
healers and the clinic.
Clark plans to
enter the Yale University School of Public Health in fall
2007 to study global health. But first, she plans to leave
Africa with a grasp of Setswana, the most widely spoken dialect
in Botswana, and an understanding of Tswana culture and traditions
and beliefs, as well as a number of good friends.
“The beauty of traveling and living in other countries
is that you don’t know exactly what you’ll get
out of it,” she says. “What I learned previously
from being in Africa, and really anywhere in the world, is
that you have to be very flexible. As long as you keep an
open mind, you get so much out of the most random, small things.
If you go with the flow, it’ll be a great experience,