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Rodgers a 2011 Samuel Huntingdon Public Service Award Winner
Source: Google Alert
Source Date: Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Tanzania
Created: Oct 05, 2011

He is the first student from Pitt to receive the honor.

Rodgers’ project, “The Poultry Program for People Living with HIV and AIDS in Rwambaizi,” is patterned after a project for women’s groups implemented by Karagwe Development and Relief Services, which has been providing services to the people of the Karagwe District of Tanzania for more than a decade.

He is working alongside an organization called BasicNeeds, so he will be working in both Karagwe District, where the village of Rwambaizi is located, and Dar es Salaam, the main city in Tanzania. BasicNeeds is an international NGO working to improve the lives of mentally ill people, especially in places where mental health and psychiatric services are unavailable or lacking. 

In Tanzania, AIDS is linked with mental illness in various ways: 

q People with HIV often suffer from inordinate amounts of stress. Mentally ill people are often at greater risk of contracting HIV because of their condition, especially women who are sexually harassed but may not be able to seek help because of their condition.

q The HIV virus can also cause direct neural damage to brain cells in a condition called “AIDS dementia complex.”

q People with mental illness can’t always take care of themselves if they have an HIV infection.

Rodgers’ proposed poultry project is intended to help families in which people are dealing with HIV, mental illness, or both. It provides a source of income and food, and through educational programming and support, people can be taught to breed chickens, which makes this program long-lasting and sustainable.

After setting up the poultry program, he’ll be working with BasicNeeds to initiate other programs through participatory action research. What this means is that the communities with which they work will be involved in decision-making, unlike many programs that dictate how a community’s problems will be solved. It’s a more democratic and less coercive approach that encourages community members to get involved.

Rodgers has been accepted to Tulane University School of Medicine, where he’ll enroll when he returns. He eventually hopes to work internationally as a physician and public health worker to improve health services for marginalized communities. 

Rodgers knows Swahili, and hopes to become fluent while he is abroad.  

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