UMD: A Globally Connected University

Meagan Hawes

 One of the first of many things my Global Health Corps (GHC) co-fellow taught me is the word “turikumwe” (tur-wee-koom-way).  In Rwanda’s native tongue, turikumwe means “all together.”  The word is emblazoned on billboards in the capital city; you hear it repeated in the mantras of NGOs, and feel it in the passionate murmurs of community leaders.  Turikumwe.  All together.  What a wonderful introduction to the spirit of community that is central to GHC.

 Global Health Corps is a year-long paid fellowship that places change-makers under 30 in leadership positions within organizations working towards health equity worldwide.  Each year the GHC begins with a myriad of ambitious and dedicated young leaders. What the class grows into—far more powerful—is a community of global activists, working all together towards health as a human right worldwide.  

 GHC fellows work in two-person “co-fellow” teams, where one international fellow is paired with one national fellow. The team is placed within an organization in one of six countries: Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, and the United States, where fellows work to support existing programs and build local capacity.  My co-fellow and I were placed in a town in rural Rwanda, where we served our fellowship year working as field officers for the British-based nonprofit Health Poverty Action.  

 As GHC fellows, we worked to build the capacity of our organization’s local staff and strengthen systems that would endure beyond our fellowship tenure.  We worked on girls’ education campaigns, the repair of broken wells, and advocacy efforts for those subjected to sexual and gender-based violence. There is an African proverb that reads, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  This is true both for GHC and for the communities it serves.  

 To find out more information about Global Health Corps, please visit