Career goal: Design and implement harm-reduction programs for marginalized populations.
Internship outline: Sara conducted an evaluation to determine the effectiveness of HIV prevention, substance abuse treatment and care services which are offered to Afghan refugee injecting drug users (IDUs) through four drop-in centers (DICs) located in the cities of Mashhad and Tehran. The program was implemented with the goal of improving Afghan refugee IDUs accessibility to the aforementioned services and reducing the adverse consequences of drug abuse for individuals and the society as whole. The evaluation was based on taped semi-structured interviews, discussion groups and a review of all major documents at each of the four DICs funded by UNODC.
Value of experience: My internship at UNODC helped me gain a better understanding of the challenges associated with the proper implementation, management and evaluation of harm reduction programs targeting marginalized populations in a socially conservative setting. Having the opportunity to work independently on the development and execution of an evaluation plan helped me gain valuable qualitative research skills. My overall internship experience and the inspiring work of my colleagues have solidified my desire to work with marginalized populations in the Middle East.
Best moment/experience: Having the opportunity to spend time at the DICs in Tehran and Mashhad was the most memorable part of my internship. Interviewing the drug users visiting these centers and in a few cases, getting to meet and speak to their families, was definitely an experience that I will never forget.
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- Sara visits the famous historical village of Abyaneh known for its traditional houses that are colored with a distinct reddish hue. Abyaneh is one of the oldest villages in Iran and in the background the ruins of an old fort are visible.
- Sara and the staff from one of the drop-in centers located in the city of Mashhad, where she spent a week interviewing Afghan refugee drug users.
- On the drive back from visiting the drop-in center just outside of Tehran, Sara captures a young shepherd wiping the sweat off his face amidst the searing noonday heat while tending to his sheep.
- Sara poses in front of a wooden door at the Golestan Palace in Tehran. The colorful, vibrant tiles accentuate her clothing and hijab.
- Tourists converge at Tag-e Bostan located in the city of Kermanshah as dusk approaches to take photos before sunset.
- Scene from the central bazaar in the city of Kermanshah on a quiet afternoon. A shopkeeper is busy preparing to open later in the evening.
- Sara is excited that an Abyunaki woman agreed to take a picture with her. The lady is dressed in traditional clothing, characterized by the long white scarf with a colorful pattern.
- The natural beauty of Iran.
- A view of Tehran’s bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic from a pedestrian overpass.