Mike Mallon, Ethiopia

MPH Graduate- Behavioral and Community Health Sciences- 2013

I lived and worked in the beautiful Ethiopian highland town of Debresina, home to an old Italian-built tunnel and stopping point for travelers on the thoroughfare between the capital Addis Ababa and another large regional city.

My primary project during my two years was the formation and implementation of a home based care program, aimed at providing care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS in his town and the surrounding rural areas. I partnered with the local government branch of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control office as well as the local health center. During the course of this program we trained local caregivers to deliver home-to-home care to people living with HIV/AIDS. This care included basic medical and nursing, but in reality the primary component was providing a support system to people who are often hidden or marginalized by admitting their HIV positive status. The caregivers were themselves HIV positive and they were able to talk with and help people with the social and psychological aspects of being HIV positive, all the while in the privacy of one’s own home.

I came into the Peace Corps with no prior experience in public health but my education came in the form of living for two years in Ethiopia and through the people I encountered during my stay. This prior experience dovetailed nicely with Pitt’s Public Health program, as the program rounded out my field level education I garnered while a PCV and provided additional conceptual and evidence-based insight to prepare me for a lengthy career in public health service and practice.