I am not in the “ignore President Trump’s tweets because they are a distraction from important things” camp. His most recent micro-harangues — accusing (without evidence) a news executive of wrongdoing, hinting that a television host may have been involved in murder and embracing the debunked anti-Muslim rantings of Britain’s alt-right — indicate some type of degeneration. The president seems to be in a downward spiral of anger, compulsion, conspiracy theorizing and prejudice that is alternately offensive and frightening.

Beth O’Connell became a Frist Global Health Leader in 2010, completing an internship in rural Rwanda for her Bachelor of Public Health. She received the award again in 2013 for an internship in rural Guatemala for her MPH. Today, Beth has earned a DrPH and works as an Assistant Professor in Public and Community Health at Liberty University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate public health courses, while continuing to serve and conduct research to improve health in low-resource communities both domestically and globally.

Some of Dr. O’Connell’s current projects include longitudinal evaluation of biosand water filters using field use indicators in Rwanda, impact of housing improvements on health-related quality of life in rural Appalachia, impact of solar light access in Guatemala, and secondary analysis of risk factors for diarrheal disease in sub-Saharan Africa. The water filter evaluation project is an ongoing effort in the same community she interned with in 2010 and came about when community members asked about filter effectiveness after events of concern. For example, a child added powdered soap to the filter hoping to make the water even cleaner. Since electricity and other resources are inconsistent there, an indicator of water quality was needed that did not require a laboratory setting. Several field use indicators were tested compared to the lab standard as part of her dissertation. The best of those is now being used to test the filters over time. Dr. O’Connell was recently awarded the Provost Research Initiative award at Liberty to continue this work with students in summer 2018. Publications and presentations have been disseminated to provide information to other projects, but the most important outcome is safe drinking water for an underserved population.

 “The Frist Global Health Leader experiences catalyzed my educational process and were foundational to my current research, service, and teaching efforts. My career and who I am as a person were immeasurably shaped by these opportunities. I am beyond thankful!”-
In March, President Trump issued a budget that recommended a 32 percent cut to foreign assistance. Faith-based organizations across the nation fought back and notable leaders in the nonprofit world—including those from Hope Through Healing Hands, the organization I work for—wrote and signed letters to Congress. They argued against cuts to a program that provides health care, food, emergency relief, clean water and education to the most vulnerable populations on the planet.
Following years of involvement in global humanitarian efforts, I was privileged recently to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with some of our Congressmen to discuss the importance of preserving this line item in our U.S. budget. What fuels my passion for this work are stories like the one I share here and Christ’s compassion flowing through me for those in direst need.
In Lugala, a village that is 10km from the Dodoma Region in Tanzania, it is common for a man to disappear in thin air when the partner gets pregnant only to reappear when the baby is born. This was shared by several women who said men do not support their partners when they get pregnant. This kind of entrenched financial and social neglect of pregnant mothers has left several women struggling with pregnancies alone without much support, even in times of emergencies.
Children bear the worst impact of the crisis in northeast Nigeria. This year, an estimated 450,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, making them nine times more likely to die from common illnesses such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. The health system, damaged by fighting, is one of the biggest casualties in the emergency. Families displaced by violence struggle to get their children the help they need to survive.
It’s not about a gleaming waiting room, with tiled floors, aircon, mounted televisions, beautiful furniture, portraits, magazines, coffee mixers and chilled water dispensers. It’s not about custom beds, cabinets and glass panelled waiting rooms with expensive lighting.

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