UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: United Nations Volunteers
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Peter Claesson, UNV Country Director
Student Name: Tanya Gonzalez
Year: 2005

Problem Statement
According to the 2003 United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, Honduras is the second poorest country in the Americas, following Haiti. Human Development Indicators for Honduras reveal that the quality of life for the average Honduran is substandard.
The obvious need for change in Honduras has attracted the work of many different types of organizations and individuals in the field of human development. The multitude of programs has made it difficult for organizations or individuals to communicate their results to each other, collaborate, and create awareness of their work within the international funding community.

Organizational Setting
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) is the voluntary service branch of the United Nations that facilitates human development through the exchange of ideas, teaching, training and encouragement of local counterparts. The UNV also works towards promoting and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designated for each country.

Place of Project within Organization
Under the guidance of my preceptor, Peter Claesson, I researched, interviewed and drafted summaries of successful human development experiences in Honduras. These summaries will be included in a book entitled A New World-Under Construction; the purpose of which is to caption the attention of the international funding community, create organizational awareness, and to inspire alliances, collaborations, and replication of these experiences in other areas. The goals of this book fall under the UNV mission of facilitating human development.

Work on the book progressed as outlined in the scope of work and I was able to finish writing summaries for the 24 projects to which I was assigned. Final versions for 5 of the projects remain uncompleted because revisions have not been received from the respective organization. However, it is expected that the late October publishing date will still be met.

Theoretical Comparisons
The theory and rationale behind an organization’s intervention was one criteria used to determine the eligibility of an organization. The most common concepts and theories used were community organizing and participation, empowerment and the social ecological theory.

Recommendations for Similar Projects
The strongest lesson learned from working on this project was the need to have an organized, systematic way of choosing organizations and a set template for writing the summaries.

Professional Development
As a result of this internship, I have improved my writing, interpersonal, decision making, organizational and Spanish skills. Additionally, exposure to several different fields of development has increased my breadth of knowledge in this area, a benefit for my future career in international development.


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