Peace Corps Health Extension Volunteer Ethiopia, East Africa
David Norris served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Meteso, a village in southwestern Ethiopia, from March 2016 – March 2018. As a health extension volunteer he focused on the health of his community, specifically: water sanitation and hygiene, HIV, gender equality, and ending preventable child and maternal deaths. The majority of his work was with students at the local primary school. The students were eager to learn and highly motivated and inspired David to complete a female latrine grant project on the school compound. Alongside his counterparts from the school, they successfully fundraised and managed this project, allowing students to maintain cleanliness and privacy, in hopes to increase female student enrollment.
David’s service didn’t solely focus on the primary school, but also with mothers in his community. He conducted weekly household visits, both observational and instructional, as part of a new health project framework of Peace Corps Ethiopia. Integrated within his small community, he was able to provide an unparalleled level of intimacy to his target populations. In the words of Marie McLeod, Director of Peace Corps Office of Global Health and HIV, “the true value of service cannot be reported or recorded because it is the moments that have happened in between the projects that deliver the greatest impact”.
As he began working in Ethiopia, David realized he loved the work he was doing but only wished he had a greater scope of practice. With very limited intervention possibilities, he felt that he could have made a greater impact if he had more training in a health specialty. It was this aspect of his service that contributed to his decision to become a nurse.