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By Kate McAuliff

For the past month, Mission: Restore has had two incredible Summer Fellows. One week after our first Fellow arrived, our Field Team grew again to include Matthew O’Brien, an MPA student studying Economic and Political Development at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

From the moment we picked Matthew up at the small local airport, we were already discussing upcoming Mission: Restore activities. Despite my intentions of giving our newest Fellow some time to settle in, Matthew dove into work immediately, and now a month later he still maintains that energy and enthusiasm.

The strength of the Mission: Restore team lies in our varied expertise – Matthew brings his to our curriculum development and evaluation.

“My combined experience in public health and education in addition to my ongoing training in development provide me with some background to think through how to best evaluate health related training,” he says. Matthew’s diverse background combines science, health, and education. He earned his BA from Boston University in Biological Anthropology, taught with Teach for America in Chicago, and worked for a non-profit focusing on health education – his experience is a perfect match for evaluating Mission: Restore’s training curriculum and programs. Through evaluation, Mission: Restore can work toward ensuring the consistency and efficacy of our activities.

“This summer, I’m excited to support Mission: Restore’s push for improved evaluation of our surgical training and long-term patient outcomes. To do so, I am piloting new evaluation tools for local surgeon trainees to evaluate Mission: Restore’s work and building curriculum tools to support the highest quality training based on their input.”

A vital tool for the sustainability of Mission: Restore’s work is patient follow up. This summer, Matthew is conducting patient interviews. “I am conducting interviews with past patients of Mission: Restore’s partner surgeons to assess the effectiveness of their operations and learn more about the healthcare systems where we work.”

Last week, while we conducted surgical training at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar, Matthew met with patients who received surgery six months ago with Mission: Restore. This gave us a chance to see how they are recovering, and gave the patients an opportunity to share their experiences.

Keep an eye on the Mission: Restore blog to read the powerful stories of seeking care and the impact of reconstructive surgery!

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