Mumbai and Maharashtra, India
Career goal: Pursue a career in global health and community development.
Internship outline: Mary conducted an independent research project, in which she interviewed mothers living in an urban slum of Mumbai. The purpose of her research was to identify positive behaviors and attributes among slum dwellers that contribute to their children’s health and nutrition. She worked in collaboration with SNEHA (snehamumbai.org), a Mumbai-based non-profit organization with a focus on research. SNEHA programs operate in Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia and the heart of Mumbai.
Value of experience: This internship provided me with invaluable skills and knowledge. I experienced firsthand how an NGO functions, from executive meetings to on-the-ground field work, and successfully tackled the inherent challenges that come with doing research in an unfamiliar site. I enjoyed doing fieldwork in an underserved, marginalized community because it brought me close to the people who live there. This prepared me for a career in global health because it reminded me of the people that public health research is meant to serve.
Best moment/experience: One of the best things about doing fieldwork in Dharavi is the ability to meet so many people. I met families who were welcoming and friendly, and who often offered me food and drink when I entered their humble homes. On one occasion, a family I befriended gifted me a plastic watch so that I would remember them; it was a gift that I accepted thankfully.
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- Mary visits a mother and her two children in their Dharavi as part of her fieldwork. During the visit, Mary took measurements of the children and discussed feeding practices and other topics.
- Mary’s friend holds a bottle of Canadian maple syrup that Mary gave as a parting gift.
- During her daily fieldwork, Mary follows SNEHA community organizers to homes in Dharavi. Here, she enters through one of the many street openings.
- One of the main roads in Dharavi is marked by poor infrastructure and constant traffic.
- Mary attends the India Launch of the 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition in Delhi. The conference addressed global and local forces that drive malnutrition among India’s poor.
- Open public space is hard to find in Dharavi. Here, children play and adults socialize.
- One of many families Mary visited during her fieldwork. They welcomed her with open arms.
- In the lobby of the grand Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai.
- A special side trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra. Viewing the breathtaking sight in person was a highlight of Mary’s trip.
- Once the interviews were over, Mary enjoys spending time with the families and playing with the children.