This is the seventh post in our Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) series.
As an MBA/MPH student, Grace Lesser (2016) had the unique opportunity to receive both the UC Berkeley Global Health Reporting Fellowship and support from the Haas Social Impact Fund (HSIF) and Rashell Young Fellowship this past summer. With these fellowships, she pursued a customer insights/photojournalism study on access to maternal and reproductive health services in post-earthquake Nepal with One Heart Worldwide (OHW), a maternal health NGO with an extraordinary boots-on-the-ground presence in relief efforts there. “My goal in doing this project,” Grace said, “was to provide a counterpoint to the dryness of the policy conversation, or the flatness of the funding dialogue. My original goal was to document narratives across several different countries, but when the earthquake hit Nepal and I had the opportunity to go through a relief organization with a real local presence, I focused my efforts on examining health access in the wake of the crisis.”
Grace traveled to some of the most remote areas of the world with One Heart Worldwide as they delivered essential medicines and vaccines to areas that would soon be isolated by the impending three-month monsoon season, going beyond herself to contribute in her own tiny way to the relief efforts and to raise awareness about Nepal. This work was done with mentorship from Ideas42, a behavioral economics firm exploring behavior patterns around adoption and adherence of family planning.
Though her work was technically focused on public health research, Grace found that it went far beyond just that: “reproductive health access has broad political, economic, and social (gender empowerment) implications. Research has shown that family planning is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce maternal mortality, and that declines in fertility through family planning are linked with accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction. It’s my hope that by bringing some of the personal stories to life from around the world, by taking a human-centered approach to development efforts in resource-poor countries around the world, we can start to see how access fits into a broader ecosystem of economic development and growth.”
Find out more about how to get involved in the Haas Social Impact Fund.