Local Sister helps soon-to-be AIDS orphans in Ethiopia

"Elizabeth Sumamo and Melanie Meardi each received a degree at the University of Alberta’s recent Fall Convocation 2006. Although they each completed different programs in the School of Public Health – Sumamo finished an MPH (Global Health) and Meardi earned an MSc (Health Promotion) – they share a passion for working with marginalized populations to improve their health and completed the practicum component of their respective programs abroad -- Sumamo in Ethiopia and Meardi in Tanzania.

"Sumamo spent nearly six months working with the Hiwot HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Support Organization, a non-governmental organization founded in 1999 to motivate, educate, and empower Ethiopians to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. She served as an intern on the International Memory Project, an initiative aimed at supporting children who were facing the prospect of losing their HIV-positive parents.

"'My role was to help with memory work training for HIV-positive parents, their caregivers, and their children,' says Sumamo. One aspect of memory work, which is an element of the International Memory Work Project, involves parents and children working together to develop a memory book that includes important information about family and friends, parents’ beliefs, ideals and hopes for their children, traditions and special family memories. 'The aim of the project,' explains Sumamo, 'is to promote open communication between parents and their children and to give them the opportunity to discuss important subjects that will help them to them prepare for their futures.'"

"Commenting on the value of her practicum experience, Sumamo indicated that she views it as an essential component of her MPH program. 'I learned a lot in my classes and my coursework provided me with a good theoretical foundation, but the practicum really reinforced things for me,' she stated."