My name is Corina Clemente and I am originally from Venezuela but was previously living in Washington DC before coming to Mozambique. I studied International Relations at Georgetown University and Global Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to Gorongosa I worked for 4 years for Population Services International (PSI) a social marketing organization in HIV prevention, family planning and maternal health programs in Latin America and Africa. I also spent 2 years working with a foster care program and doing research on the prevention of child neglect amongst immigrant populations in Washington DC.
I came to Gorongosa through the USAID Global Health Fellows program in November 2011. The job appealed to me because I love the Portuguese language, which I began to learn in Brazil as a high school volunteer for Amigos de las Americas. Later I continued to study Portuguese throughout college and was very fortunate to spend a semester of study abroad in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. When I first got out of school I worked principally on projects in Latin America and with Latino immigrants in the US. However, over the years development aid to Latin America dramatically decreased (thankfully due to decreased need) so I began to work in supporting programs in Africa more and more. After spending several years mostly working out of DC and traveling for short periods abroad I began looking for opportunities to spend more substantial time in the field working on program implementation. Over a work trip to Kenya in early 2011 I visited the Maasai Mara Reserve on my own to go on safari, where I learned about the complex relationship between the Maasai community and the reserve, and the ongoing challenges in conservation and peaceful human-animal co-existence. A few months later I found out about the opportunity to work in Gorongosa on a community health project and hurried to apply for the post. I loved the idea of being able to practice public health while living in a national park where I could be so close to wildlife every day. For these reasons, coming to work in Mozambique was a perfect fit!
I manage the USAID-funded Ecohealth program, an activity that falls within the Gorongosa Restoration Project's Community Relations Department. We utilize the population, health and environment (PHE) development approach to find integrated solutions to problems faced by resource-dependent communities, such as the subsistence farmers living in rural communities in the buffer zone of Gorongosa National Park. Ecohealth aims at increasing access to health services and information to community members living at great distances from clinics or hospitals. We do this by training and supporting community health workers and traditional birth attendants and providing routine mobile clinic services. In addition we work to increase awareness of women's rights, the dangers of early marriage and national laws against domestic violence and child protection.
Everything we do is in partnership with local government authorities, for example our mobile clinics are staffed by nurses from the local hospital. We also work closely with Mt. Sinai Global Health Center in New York City, which regularly sends students and faculty to provide technical assistance.
I love being a part of the Ecohealth program because I get to work daily with tireless Mozambican health care providers who do a phenomenal job treating the sick and suffering with extremely limited resources. I am also proud to be a part of the ambitious Gorongosa Restoration Project, which is attempting to bring humans and nature back into balance in a place with incredible biodiversity and natural heritage.