Memoires of a Project Manager: Reflections of Alyanne Boon on five years at Health[e]Foundation

After working for five years as a Project Manager at Health[e]Foundation, Alyanne Boon is moving on to a new opportunity. Alyanne has been part of many events that shaped the foundation into what it is today. A brief look into some of her rememberable moments at Health[e]Foundation.

I became a Project Manager at Health[e]Foundation after working in various NGOs. Seeing the importance of good health for development made me determined to work in the healthcare sector. At Health[e]Foundation, I found the opportunity to engage in global health and technology, something that has kept me interested. I want to highlight three significant moments from the past five years:

The individual impact of training

In Health[e]Foundation’s programs, many healthcare professionals are trained. It’s easy to forget how this training impacts individual people. One story that stood out was about Amanuel Tebabal, a midwife and teacher in Bahir Dar – Ethiopia. He went through the Health[e]Families program and learned about midwifery practices. Amanuel shared a personal story with me. Amanuel’s mom had a difficult experience during her first pregnancy due to lack of professional healthcare providers, leading to the loss of her child. This inspired Amanuel to become a midwife. To help mothers, like he wanted his own mother to be helped. Amanuel appreciated the additional training from our program. He emphasized that midwifery is a dynamic and ever-changing profession, and updating knowledge is a basic responsibility for healthcare professionals. Our program enabled him to provide better care to his clients and teach his students. Amanuel’s story is just one of many that kept me motivated every day to continue our efforts in providing ongoing training to healthcare professionals.

Shifting the power

In 2020, when COVID-19 affected the world, it also impacted Health[e]Foundation’s work. Traveling for workshops with healthcare professionals in different countries became impossible. This situation accelerated the shift of responsibility to our local partners. From my perspective, this was a positive outcome of a tragic pandemic. The necessity to adapt forced us to train our local partners in using our e-learning platform, even in remote areas with less technological know-how. Despite challenges, the reshaped model of responsibilities has yielded success. For example, our partner in Suriname received online training and quickly mastered how to run the workshops, even handling the ever occurring technical challenges in digital learning. Together we organized online workshops for community health workers, and everyone successfully completed the training! This new approach persisted after the COVID-19 pandemic, with our local partners taking on more leadership in Health[e]Foundations’ activities.

Supporting pregnant women with the LUCY app

Last but definitely not least, is the development of the LUCY app. It began as a simple text and voice call service in 2015 in Ethiopia to share information with pregnant women about their pregnancy and newborn. Over time, it evolved into a successful smartphone app used widely in Suriname, Ethiopia, and Kenya, with over 10,000 users in three years. Working on the LUCY app from the beginning taught me about creating digital solutions in places with limited resources. The key lessons learned were to keep things simple, ensure your intervention does one thing really well, and people will value your product for it. We started with the LUCY app in Suriname, supporting over 5,000 women during their pregnancies and the first year with their newborns. Then, while circling back to where LUCY originated by developing a version for Ethiopia in Amharic and Oromo, we also expanded to Kenya with a Swahili version. Despite the fact that LUCY is a big success and highly valued, we do recognize that many women without smartphones could also benefit from its information. That’s why in 2023, we began developing LUCY for healthcare professionals, allowing them to better serve and inform clients without smartphones, ensuring no one is left behind. The Health[e]Foundation team will complete the final development stages, and the new version of LUCY will be launched in early 2024, so stay tuned!

It is my time to say goodbye to Health[e]Foundation, carrying valuable lessons to a new position. Thank you to everyone I have worked with in the past five years—participants, partners, stakeholders, donors, and, of course, our lovely team.