Supporting medical school for young people in Africa
How can a business school student contribute to a new medical school in rural Africa? It was through an internship after high school that bachelor student Lennart Corleissen became part of the team running Projekt Misside, an association that initiates and supports social projects in Guinea, in West Africa. He uses his knowledge and skills to contribute to the association’s marketing, administration, partnership activities and planned integration in the Netherlands.
Eager to gain some work experience before starting his BSc in International Business Administration at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), Lennart completed a two-month internship at Simmel AG – a private supermarket chain in southern and eastern Germany, which is the project’s main supporter among many other volunteers. Subsequently in 2017, he visited Télimélé in Guinea in order to support Projekt Misside’s medical school.
Amadou Yombo Diallo, who was born in Télimélé and now works as a teacher in Germany, founded the association many years ago. “I was lucky to attain an excellent education in Europe. Many Guineans do not have this opportunity and suffer from bad circumstances every day. Education is the one and only way how we can help the people.”
Simmel AG had bought the land in Guinea in 2015, and started building the medical school, with the help of many volunteer visits, which opened in 2017. The project includes a hospital, a lab, and a boarding school for girls. The premises span 11,000 m2 on the outskirts of Télimélé, where about 200,000 people live. More than 6,000 Guineans have already received medical aid by a team of six doctors, and more than 300 students currently receive medical education through Projekt Misside.
“I was impressed by how a European company and a strong force of volunteers and supporters can make such a social impact so far away,” says Lennart. “Especially young women in Télimélé are really benefiting from this project.”
Around 200 of the students are girls. Twenty of them live in the boarding school, with 12 of their children being cared for at an in-house crèche. “This is extraordinary in a country where many girls are married at age 14 and dependent on their husbands. The 200 girls at Projekt Misside now live a different reality, and the project is only just getting started,” Lennart said.
Less than two years since the project began, Lennart is involved in numerous ways. For example, he co-manages the social media accounts and website of Projekt Misside, providing updates about what is currently happening there.
In addition to these marketing efforts, Lennart is helping to optimise business processes and foster partnerships for Projekt Misside. He also informs Simmel employees, management and customers about developments at Projekt Misside.
The project team has plans for 2019 to enhance the learning processes through additional materials, teachers, and increased co-operation with universities and other hospitals. Recently one hospital was able to perform operations and thoroughly educate the medical staff through visits from German doctors. And an auditorium is currently being built to allow for lectures and gatherings of larger groups of students.
Lennart says he is inspired by what he’s learning at RSM. For example, he said Professor Lucas Meijs empowered and massively supported him with new ideas and links to other people. And Dr Juup Essers shared his theories about social interaction and psychological theory in one of his lectures.
“At RSM, I learned how to work in a structured manner and develop creative business ideas which I now apply in the project, in courses such as Effective Business Communication and Organisational Behaviour.” Lennart added that one of the project’s goals is to find support in the Netherlands. Amadou’s younger brother Aliou, who lives in Eindhoven, is co-leading the support initiative and strives to accomplish this goal together with Lennart.
Lennart will work at Simmel again this summer, and looks forward to visiting the school and hospital of Projekt Misside in Télimélé again in 2020.
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