Tiffany Hsu is a firm believer that every individual can find service within themselves. Tiffany has been putting this into practice as a third year undergraduate student; she has been involved in campus service groups such as UCLA Habitat for Humanity, UCLA Circle K, Rotaract Club at UCLA, Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, and the Mobile Clinic Project. She has served on the Internal Programming Committee for UCLA’s Community Service Commission, works at the UCLA Center for World Health , is currently serving on the Community on Diversity and Equal Opportunity and has worked with international nonprofits and programs including RESULTS and the United Nation’s Shot@Life program. Tiffany is currently a Neuroscience major with a minor in Global Studies and believes that bridging the world of science and humanities can help her develop a greater perspective on global health issues and how to address them.
Three primary school boys, approximately age 10, are hard at work at their wooden desk, all sharing the same bench. They are beginning a “Journal Writing” assignment I brought for them. All faces are turned toward their papers, not the camera.
This past summer, Tiffany spent two months in the Ugandan village of Kanungu, about a seven hour drive from the capital city of Kampala. This opportunity came through the Uganda Development Initiative, which was introduced to her by a fellow Rotarian who worked in Uganda. Although no other volunteers had ever been sent to the site, Tiffany’s zeal and well thought out initiatives gave her the service opportunity of a lifetime. The Uganda Development Initiative mainly focuses on bringing education to children in the rural village of Kanungu, but Tiffany’s interest in public health also helped introduce a different idea into the educational component of the program. For the first month of her stay, Tiffany volunteered as a teacher at the local high school with a focus on biology and public health education. She taught about basic sanitation and prevention in order to educate the students about easy methods to limit the spread of infections and diseases. She prepared for this trip through her proactive desire to bring educational materials to Uganda. Hsu contacted local office supply stores and was able to bring suitcases of pens, paper, and other art supplies to the village. She also thought outside of the box by utilizing globes from the Fowler Museum’s 50th Anniversary Celebration exhibit and bringing those globes to the Ugandan students, many of whom had never seen one before and were fascinated by the visual of the Earth being round.
The Fowler Museum building, taken during the “Fowler at 50” celebration where thousands of globes of different sizes were strung together and hung up to make it appear as if the building was overflowing with globes.
Six primary students in the blue school uniform and shaved heads surround a globe, all looking intently down. They are three hands pointing to Uganda on the globe. No faces can be seen.
During the second month of her stay, Tiffany volunteered at the local Health Center, working on a proposal to upgrade the village’s Health Center to a fully functioning hospital. The Health Center in the village is the oldest health facility in the Southwestern region, with over 70 years under its belt serving the local community. Although this Center serves an entire community, it is constantly low on supplies, vaccines, and government funding. Tiffany and a local team are currently working on gaining support to bring this hospital to fruition. With support from the community and a hospital proposal project on the way, Tiffany and the team hope that the hospital will not only be viable in 5 years, but that it will also attract healthcare workers, surgeons, better ambulance travel, and more. According to Hsu, many of the children there see respiratory infections, malaria, pneumonia, and lack of vaccines as the norm, but Hsu and the team of visionaries are working to change that.
Kanungu Health Centre IV signpost listing services: general inpatient outpatient care, HIV counseling and testing, HIV/AIDS care and treatment services for both children, adolescents, and adults, TB screening and treatment for both children and adults, prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT), maternal and child health (antenatal and postnatal), immunization, general laboratory services, health education, malaria surveillance, integrated family planning services. On bottom: “This signpost was provided by Reproductive Health Uganda with support from USAID.
A look inside the one room general ward. There are mosquito nets rolled up hanging from the ceiling, six beds are shown with thin mattresses and worn blankets, two women are sitting, silhouetted on the left. The open door in the center back is the only source of light.
Besides her projects with the UDI non-profit, Hsu also spent her time in Uganda joining a theater group and learning to play the African xylophone, volunteering at a deaf school with her knowledge of ASL, and making connections that will far outlast her two months of service. Although Tiffany was only able to stay in Uganda for the summer, she knows her service isn’t finished. Now that she is back, she is working with the UDI Child Sponsorship Project to raise money so that many more students can gain an education, food, and clothing for an entire school year. Hsu wants to push the idea that anyone can do good despite their financial backgrounds. She has garnered support from her local Rotary club and her friends to team up and sponsor a child and is currently selling jewelry made from a local artisan in Uganda to raise money for children’s education.
Three different shots of the variety of bracelets Tiffany is selling as a fundraiser for child sponsorships. A multitude of color– the main ones are those of the Ugandan flag: red, black, yellow. Beads are handmade from paper and varnished along with acrylic beads.
Through her stay and experiences in Uganda, Hsu has learned much more about global health and issues affecting different communities. She understands that service projects cannot “fix” everything, but rather, they create partnerships where both parties learn mutually from one another. Besides learning to ride a motor bike through the dirt roads of Kanungu, Hsu says she’s also interested in advocating for people’s stories. She believes that health and education are two basic fundamentals, and that if someone has these two foundations at their disposal, then they have the power to do anything.
The beautiful African sunset, framed with the tropical flora, setting beneath the mountains in the distance.