Amanda Prifti: Partners in Health

by Rachel Shaheen

Every­one is hard-working, unbe­liev­ably friendly, ded­i­cated and united for a greater pur­pose — end­ing global health inequal­ity. When some­thing so mean­ing­ful is a com­mon fac­tor in an envi­ron­ment, it’s elec­tri­fy­ing. Con­ta­gious. Invig­o­rat­ing. Really makes wak­ing up  every morn­ing a plea­sure rather than a chore,” said Amanda Prifti, a senior at North­east­ern fin­ish­ing her final co-op at Part­ners in Health.

            As a non­profit cor­po­ra­tion head­quar­tered in Boston, Part­ners in Health claims its pur­pose: “At its root, our mis­sion is both med­ical and moral. It is based on sol­i­dar­ity, rather than char­ity alone.” Prifti fur­ther explained that PIH “fights global inequal­i­ties through pro­vid­ing a high level of health care and accom­pa­ni­ment to the world’s less for­tu­nate. Work­ing across bor­ders, PIH chal­lenges finan­cial, social and gov­ern­men­tal norms to enforce human rights, to ensure that health care is deemed a human right and gets pro­vided to all.”

            Prifti was hired as the Oper­a­tions and IT Pro­cure­ment Assis­tant. To break her tasks down on a day-to-day basis, Prifti engages in: finan­cial report­ing, track­ing invoices, run­ning billing reports, track­ing IT equip­ment orders, answer­ing the PIH gen­eral info email account, and solv­ing minor IT issues. On an infor­mal basis, Prifti has taken on numer­ous other projects that have included pack­ing ship­ments to Rwanda and Haiti, print­ing last-minute logos for the lab coats of Paul Farmer at the Butaro Can­cer Cen­ter open­ing, observ­ing the PIH 25th Anniver­sary events, and mak­ing final prepa­ra­tions for the open­ing of the Mire­bal­ais Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal in Haiti.

            Prifti empha­sized that although her title may not appear to be glam­orous, she had been given sub­stan­tial oppor­tu­ni­ties to gain “an invalu­able amount of knowl­edge.” Because she has exposed her will­ing­ness to take on projects out­side of her offi­cial posi­tion, she has involved her­self in much of the organization’s enrich­ing work. She has even had the hon­or­able oppor­tu­nity of meet­ing Paul Farmer! 

            The most promi­nent exam­ple is her col­lab­o­ra­tion with the PIH’s new ini­tia­tive, PIH Engage, which has been well under­way for about two months. As Prifti described, “It is a ground break­ing move­ment — first of it’s kind at PIH. Bring­ing com­mu­ni­ties together from around the coun­try, PIH Engage uses edu­ca­tion, advo­cacy and fundrais­ing to fur­ther the change for global health care.”

            As a grass-roots dynamic, 15 regional orga­niz­ers and 30 com­mu­nity coor­di­na­tors are pro­vided with tools from the PIH National Team in order to bet­ter unite and engage local lev­els. Prifti par­tic­i­pated in a week­end train­ing for the pro­gram, in which she described with great enthu­si­asm: “We flew about 30 peo­ple from around the coun­try to Boston and spent the week­end launch­ing this pow­er­ful com­mu­nity engag­ing ini­tia­tive. The energy, moti­va­tion and power in the room was an absolute high­light of my co-op — well worth the 10 hours of sleep I got the entire weekend.”

            Prifti could not say enough about the incred­i­ble peo­ple she is sur­rounded by. PIH orga­nizes weekly meet­ings with the entire staff to share updates on each team’s work, along with “brown bag” lunches fea­tur­ing spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tions. Prifti attrib­utes her new knowl­edge, rela­tion­ships, and over-all involve­ment to events as such.

            Prifti made an ini­tial con­nec­tion with her for­mer co-op boss at the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, whom reached out to Part­ners in Health. This led to a phone con­ver­sa­tion, two in-person inter­views, and ulti­mately Prifti’s dream co-op. She expressed her appre­hen­sion about ever work­ing for such an incred­i­ble orga­ni­za­tion, but her per­sis­tence in uti­liz­ing her net­works and pur­su­ing her career goals, resulted in great suc­cess. Work­ing for PIH post-graduation would be ideal for Prifti. She would love to con­tinue work­ing along­side an incred­i­bly dri­ven group of peo­ple, as well as “deliv­er­ing a pref­er­en­tial health care option to the world’s poor.”

            The Oper­a­tions & IT posi­tion may be open in the future for stu­dents inter­ested in the orga­ni­za­tion. Prifti stressed not to be deterred from apply­ing if stu­dents do not have pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence in this type of work. PIH wel­comes any­one with an open mind, flex­i­bil­ity, and a deep pas­sion for the organization’s mission.

            There are other oppor­tu­ni­ties within PIH as a com­mu­nity mem­ber or coor­di­na­tor, under the PIH Engage. Feel free to con­tact Jon Shaf­fer at jshaffer@pih.org or Prifti her­self to join the team or link up with the clos­est engaged com­mu­nity. Addi­tion­ally, there is a more for­mal posi­tion with the PIH National Team. To find out more about Part­ners in Health, feel free to email Amanda Prifti with any ques­tions at prifti.a@husky.neu.edu

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