Hello everyone! My name is Katie Landis and I will be working as a Program Associate this semester for VaxTrac’s Vial-to-Child project in Nepal. Originally from Corvallis, Oregon, I graduated from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) in 2013 with majors in psychology and international studies and a minor in Chinese.
Many of my undergraduate experiences shaped my interest in public health. Through my work with University of Oregon Peer Health Education and SCREEN, an Oregon breast and cervical cancer-screening project, I learned more about healthcare systems and preventing disease. Then in summer 2011, I studied abroad in Kunming, China where I learned about traditional medicine and community health. The experience helped me to realize the importance of understanding culture in public health interventions. The trip definitely made an impact on me, because after graduation I moved back to Kunming for one year on a government scholarship. I spent the year improving my Mandarin skills, teaching English, and building up my spicy food tolerance. I hope to continue developing my language skills and to one day contribute to public health research in China. Luckily, it’s easy to become addicted to Chinese TV shows, or “language practice”!
I am currently a graduate student at Emory University pursuing my MSPH in Health Services Research and Health Policy. I enjoy my program’s focus on learning to critically evaluate and produce strong research. I’m excited to apply these skills to the Nepal Vial-to-Child project. As a Program Associate, I will be conducting extensive literature reviews on mHealth topics in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of current research. Next, I will work with Mark and Lauren to draft the Nepal evaluation research proposal for UNICEF for Phase 1 of the pilot. I will also have the opportunity to review relevant evaluation tools and data gathering techniques from the Benin projects, and help revise the key core tools to be piloted in Nepal later this year.
I look forward to collaborating with VaxTrac’s staff and partners, as well as learning about the research process from a global health perspective. It’s going to be a great semester!
By Jessi Hanson, M&E Manager:
Judicael is a Technician in our Benin VaxTrac office. Nicknamed ‘Judi’ for short, he is one of our longest employees who came on several years ago when we were still piloting our technology. Judicael’s hometown is Azove, Kouffo, Benin. Judicael studied computer science as well as music. He lives currently between the capitol city of Cotonou and the region of Allada, where he is in charge of supporting the local project clinics.
As part of his daily routine, Judicael rides his motorcycle between project clinics to monitor and fix the VaxTrac system in each clinic. On an average day, he will visit about 3 clinics, talking with the health workers and the administrators to ask about how the computers are working and to inquire about any potential problems, such as syncing issues to the Cloud. Health workers often light up when they see Judicael approach, knowing they can rely on him to help solve any technical problem.
Judicael is recently a new father and a loving husband. He values balancing work and family life, yet says that the VaxTrac team is like a second family to him. Judi also is an exceptional singer and pianist. He can be found some days playing music on an electric keyboard, alongside Fidele, the Regional Manager, playing guitar. Judi is famous on the team for his dance moves, and often will try to teach visiting international staff some local steps. His notorious partner in crime among the staff is Thibaut. The two are like brothers after 3 years of working together as technicians.
We thank Judi for his incredible hard work and dedication to VaxTrac! Judicael is a valued member of the VaxTrac team!
By Jessi Hanson, M&E Manager:
Anselme is VaxTrac’s Head of Transportation, in Benin. He has been a licensed, professional driver and mechanic for many years. He completed formal training in auto repair and auto mechanics. In any sticky situation in the field on a dirt road and the vehicle is having troubles, Anselme’s our guy for the job! Even after spot-fixing an engine in the back country, Anselme manages to keep his clothes more cleanly pressed than the rest of the team. He knows the location of nearly every clinic working with VaxTrac, able to navigate unmarked country roads with ease. The words that define Anselme: courteous, kind, organized, patient, and dedicated!
Anselme also has a knack for English. It took a few trips by the US staff to realize that Anselme didn’t just have the ‘moderate English skills’ that he humbly claimed in his interview, but in fact, that he is quite fluent. It was a wonderful surprise especially to the US staff like Jessi whose French is pretty poor, and who, without Anselme’s assistance, could often order the wrong dish or improperly introduce herself to a health worker in field.
Anselme is a man of few words but whose actions speak volumes to his teammates! He always goes beyond the scope of his responsibilities to assist the team with their work on a daily basis. Quick and brilliant, the team relies on Anselme often for support, as well as advice both professional and personal. Anselme often offers to help staff with completing family weekend chores in his spare time. A husband and father himself, he still seems to make time to help those he cares about.
We give a huge high five to Anselme, a valued member of the VaxTrac team!
By Jessi Hanson, M&E Manager:
Pascal is one of VaxTrac’s newest team members! He joined in 2014 as Field Supervisor. As Field Supervisor, Pascal travels to the field where he assists our project sites to mentor and support project health workers, supervise project activities, and promote community engagement and program quality improvement.
Pascal is recognized in the organization for his strong dedication to promoting the health and wellbeing of children through community engagement. One of VaxTrac’s hopes is to help increase family engagement in their children’s vaccinations. Pascal helps build the capacity and knowledge of health workers in our clinics to provide improved services to child patients and their mothers who come into the clinics. He offers solutions to better track incomplete or unfulfilled vaccinations. Pascal is often found speaking heart-to-heart with the health workers and mothers of the children in the clinic. “I love my work,” he confessed.
Pascal is also known amongst his teammates as: charismatic, thoughtful, devoted, and the man to turn to for help. He is family-oriented and devoted to his community. He also is one of the most energetic dancers on the team, often dancing to fun music at staff gatherings. One of the only other staffers who could compete with his enthusiasm for the dance floor is Judicael. In 2015, maybe VaxTrac will consider a declared dance off!
Our hats off to our celebrated team member, Pascal!
Thibaut is one of VaxTrac’s Technicians, in our Benin Office. A graduate of College Catholique Pere Aupiais, Thibaut joined VaxTrac in 2012. He and his team partner, Judicael, supported the expansion of the VaxTrac program throughout all the health clinics in the health zones of Porto Novo and Allada. He is one of the oldest staff members amongst the field team.
As a technician, his main role is to support VaxTrac’s system in field. Most days of the week, Thibaut travels between clinics to monitor the VaxTrac system and to check for any software issues. He provides ongoing training to our trained health workers on how to use the system effectively, often answering their questions and troubleshooting any hardware issues.
He is often called endearingly ‘Thibo’ by the American team members, mostly because of their poor French skills but also because it sounds like ‘Turbo’. One of the places that Thibo can be found is speeding down a dirt road on his way to work in a VaxTrac program health clinic, in the Porto Novo region. Thibaut’s efficiency in solving problems both in and outside of the office is another wonderful quality valued by his colleagues.
Thibaut is famous among his team for his gregarious smile and positivity. He is one of the best video gamers in the organization. He loves pizza but will probably turn down an offer for Thai food. He also is well-known for his amazing English skills, often acting as the translator for visiting guests when in field visiting clinics and talking with health workers and parents. His dedication and reliability top his long list of skillsets. We, at VaxTrac, celebrate Thibault as a valued colleague!