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  • Siobhan Reeves

    Posted on 25th January 2015 by Global Health Gateway in

    Siobhan Reeves, a Masters of International Relations student, shares her inspiring story volunteering with Klibur Domin, a health care based NGO in Timor-Leste

    GHG: Tell us about yourself.
    I was born in Melbourne and grew up in rural Victoria and then in County Clare, Ireland. I studied a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, and then undertook a Masters in International Relations at the University of Melbourne in 2012. Global health is one of the key international issues I am interested in, and through studying international relations I’ve gained a better appreciation of the great capacity to deal with problems on a global scale but also of the problems of harnessing political will across governments and other key partners. I volunteered at the Leprosy Mission in Melbourne for a few months in 2012 which was quite an eye-opening experience. I was fortunate enough to be working with the annual reports from their projects around the world, which gave me a great insight ‘behind-the-scenes’ as it were.

    GHG: Tell us about your work with Klibur Domin?
    A friend who did her internship here told me about Klibur Domin, and I found it appealing, applied to volunteer and started in January. Klibur Domin, meaning Sharing Love in Tetun, is a healthcare NGO based in the village of Tibar, west of Dili in Timor-Leste. They run three programs: Inpatient care, TB and MDR-TB treatment, and Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR). I work to support the programs, which involves writing reports, conducting research, compiling data, developing a website, translating letters, etc.

    So far a major part of my work has been in relation to the Tuberculosis program, including developing a booklet to educate primary school children about Tuberculosis. I have also written a case study on one of our MDR-TB patients for a report on MDR-TB in children, which has just been released by the Sentinel Project, a partnership between the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, USA and the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis in Chennai, India. In terms of challenges, it has been a little difficult to adjust to the slower pace, but I think the greatest challenge will be saying goodbye at the end of the year.

    GHG: What’s the most inspiring book you’ve ever read?
    In relation to global health, I’d recommend three: – The Hidden World, by Leonard Cheshire VC: an inspiring reflection from the most decorated British airman in WW2 who went on to found homes for dying and disabled around the world, and it is this work which is the focus of The Hidden World. He and his wife Susan Ryder are a great inspiration to me; in fact Klibur Domin was founded in 2000 by the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation Australia. – The Night They Burned the Mountain, by Thomas Dooley: I first read this book when I was quite young and was struck by the work of this young American doctor in Vietnam and Laos, who died in 1961 from cancer at just 34 years of age. He advocated strongly for accessible healthcare in the remotest of regions, and it is extraordinary what he achieved in just six years between his first coming to Indochina and his untimely death. He also wrote Deliver Us From Evil and The Edge of Tomorrow. – Ships of Mercy: Bringing Hope and Healing to the World’s Forgetting Poor, by Don Stephens: the remarkable story of the founding of Mercy Ships which currently deploys the world’s largest private hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, and works with host nations to support and develop their healthcare systems. I am continually amazed and motivated by a dream as big as a hospital ship becoming a reality.

    GHG: Give us a moment you’ve had working in global health that will make those of us still stuck at home envious of your lifestyle during this job?
    As part of the CBR program at Klibur Domin, which works with people with disabilities in their villages, we have a respite centre where some children stay for several weeks for intensive therapy. Recently as the rainy season is mostly over and the beaches are not as full of silt, we took one of the girls with cerebral palsy to the beach which was really enjoyable, and I was reminded of how privileged I am to be working here. Many of the CBR clients had never walked, some never even left their beds, until the CBR program found them, and it’s a wonderful to see the difference that Klibur Domin makes to their lives.

    GHG: What are your tips for people interested in working in global health?
    There are so many fantastic opportunities, even for those without a health background like myself: seek them out! Don’t be shy about approaching organisations you admire or are interested in about the possibility of volunteering or an internship. Keep abreast of the major issues in global health; I keep an eye on BBC News Health update but there are many others – I recommend the list of podcasts on the Global Health Gateway website.

     Websites recommended by Siobhan

    WHO online (www.who.int): Through the Stop TB Partnership I was directed to resources from the WHO online, which as well as the expected (country statistics, treatment manuals, etc.), they also have a great portal, the WHO Global Health Observatory (http://www.who.int/gho/en/).

    The “Our Global Voices” blog (http://blogs.cdc.gov/global/): From the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, this blog has some very interesting updates on a range of global health issues.

    And of course the Global Health Gateway website: I particular enjoy the recommendations for books and films as well as the insightful articles posted.

     For more information on Klibur Domin, visit www.kliburdomin.org