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Meet a Project Coordinator

Hello, I am Phiwe Dauwa, a project coordinator at Grow Great Champions.

I have completed a Bachelor of Social Science in Nursing from the University of the Free State with a special focus in Community, Midwifery and Psychiatry nursing.

I have also completed short courses from UNICEF WHO (Mother baby-friendly initiative lactation management course), Helping Babies Breath course, and the HarvardX (Strengthening Community Health Worker Programs) course.

I am currently enrolled in a Communication and Influence in the Digital Age course through UCT

Jack of all trades is the perfect description for a typical day at work for me. I spend 80% of my time working in the office or at home.

Each day is different. One day I need complete silence to creatively write and plan communication and content material for health workers for our social media platforms. The next day, I am collating maternal and child data that we receive from different clinics across different provinces.

Since we are working on an app for Community Health Workers (CHWs), I also work on creating training material for maternal and child health.

I'm also learning about the digital space to ensure the most effective way to scale an app.

The day-to-day administrative tasks of our project are also attended by me i.e. dealing with different service providers and ensuring we’re within budget.

The other 20% of my time involves travelling to provinces where we have partnerships with the Department of Health. I train CHWs on maternal and health best practices and anthropometric measurements to assist children to thrive in their communities.

At times I am involved in directing and the content creation of educational videos and photography.

My travels also present opportunities to develop relationships and collaborate with the Department of Health.

What are the pros of being a project coordinator? It’s one of my dreams come true, but beyond that, this job has expanded my mind to something way beyond what I could have imagined.

Contrary to working in a Neonatal ICU environment, there is more ease in terms of the environment and the fact that I can wear jammies and still do my work is a bonus 😊

The downside is that I always have a lot on the go and I am involved in every aspect of the project. If I take one day off, I know there’s a lot more waiting for me when I get back.

I never thought this is where I would be; I only dreamed so.

Actually, last year while developing maternal and child content for the app and attending Artificial Intelligence webinars, I thought, "How did I get here?"

I studied Nursing. I have always been interested in helping children develop to be the best they can be (thriving, not just surviving). I got myself involved in spaces such as UNICEF. I came across Grow Great.

I wasn’t sure if I even qualified, but I applied anyway.

I don’t practice as a Registered Nurse clinically anymore; however, I continue to ensure that I am registered and kept abreast with the South African Nursing Council (SANC).

I am still registered with SANC to maintain my credentials as a registered nurse- as I am still working in the health space. That way, people understand my background.

As A project coordinator, there is no official registration body.

Volunteering for UNICEF was a great experience! I have always been interested in the health and well-being of children.

Since UNICEF is involved in all aspects of the well-being of children, volunteering allowed me to learn a lot about children’s rights and how those systems work.

The experience helped me expand my knowledge on all the needs that a child has.

I learnt how to channel routes or build relationships if I want to create change or improvements, and most importantly, having the right knowledge/language once an opportunity is at the table.

I am also an Aspen Healthy Community Fellow.

The Healthy Communities Fellowship provides communications and storytelling training to frontline innovators who are building healthy communities.

The fellowship is a space to meet like-minded peers from different countries.

We share best health practices and create networks/allies. We were trained on ways to generate change in our communities on burning health issues through communications such as writing op-eds, public speaking, media training and storytelling.

We then transitioned into senior Aspen fellows where we gained a lifelong connection to the Aspen Institute that will always be a platform to help amplify our work and provide access to mentoring.

The Grow Great Campaign seeks to galvanise South Africa towards achieving zero stunting in children by 2030.

I applied and got the job as the coordinator. The campaign uses data to mobilise policymakers, and stories to inspire the public.

We have communities of practice to support Community Health Workers and mom & baby classes to support parents.

The campaign aims is to ensure South Africa moves towards a future where no child is unjustly denied the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Being part of this campaign has greatly impacted my career due to the networks I continue to create and the endless opportunities presented.

My role has evolved to more than what I, or the organization, could have imagined or planned initially.

I could further my studies in communications, public health, in technology... The possibilities are now endless!

Children and health career paths are rooted in having a real intent to help others. The rest, I think, is about applying yourself.

Knowledge is important. Create networks, put yourself out there and work, work, work is my advice for anyone interested in taking on a career path involving children and/or health.

Preparation meets opportunity. I believe that, in this day and age, you should not limit yourself to conventional career paths. It might not happen today but if you have a vision, work to ensure that when an opportunity arises, you have been preparing yourself.

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