Over the last decade, Last Mile Health has grown from a district-level pilot with 30 community health workers to transforming how community-based primary healthcare is delivered through nationally scaled programs in countries beyond Liberia and online training programs via the Community Heath Academy. As we further our impact, realizing Last Mile Health’s vision will hinge on our ability to build a global team that is values-aligned, committed for the long-term, and representative of the diverse populations we serve. With our expansion into new geographies, one of Last Mile Health’s major priorities for FY20 is to invest in the workforces and systems necessary to carry progress forward. This commitment is reflected in the additions we’ve recently made to our staff.

To effectively and intentionally scale our values alongside our programs, we have relied on the same unique principles that remain fundamental to our work.

We Obsess About Exceptional Work

Hiring the pioneering team members for our new country program in Malawi required identifying individuals who have deep programmatic expertise within the country and who possess professional agility.

“When thinking about recruitment for the [Malawi] team, we looked for candidates who were adept at problem-solving and are excited to define a way forward that left room for reflection and evaluation,” says Last Mile Health’s Katelyn Reinert, Manager of People Operations. 

Finding candidates that understood Malawi’s health system was especially critical. By being intentional about the hiring practices, Last Mile Health’s People Operations team was able to identify and hire top tier candidates committed to building strong systems that will transform access to care in the region. 

Combined, the three employees on Malawi’s launch team have over 48 years of experience working in Malawi’s health sector, with contributions at the local, district, and national levels in more than five different focus areas, including health systems strengthening, WASH, HIV/AIDS, health financing, and advocacy.

Abigail Nyaka, Sosten Chilumpha, and Ndasowa Chitule from Last Mile Health’s Malawi team.

We Are All Teachers and Learners

In November 2019, the newly-hired Malawi country team traveled to Liberia to participate in an intensive orientation to hear insight and expertise from colleagues who were instrumental to Last Mile Health’s growth in Liberia. Conversations focused on the organization’s approach to partnering with the government, designing national community health worker programs, innovating to improve service delivery, and building team culture and systems.

“The Liberia orientation was helpful in understanding the core of Last Mile Health’s work, both in terms of values and the processes and style of work,” says Ndasowa Chitule, Director of Programs, Malawi. “The training helped us learn more about our colleagues, while also appreciate the differences between the Malawian and Liberian healthcare systems.”

Critical to Last Mile Health’s value of listening and learning from one another, this opportunity united colleagues working across different countries and areas of expertise to share knowledge, establish context, and set up communication channels for cross-program learning and collaboration.

Equipped with a diversity of perspectives and first-hand knowledge, the Malawi team was ready to take back their learnings from Liberia, and iterate and adapt them as they work to strengthen and support the national community health program in Malawi.

We Are All In This Together

Though geographically-dispersed, Last Mile Health’s growing team remains united in the shared commitment to save lives and pursue equity in healthcare for the world’s marginalized communities.

“By interacting with everyone in Liberia, I could see and feel the staff’s passion,” says Ndasowa. “It inspired me to realize that while Malawi is different, yes, we can build on this passion and momentum in the organization to bring some positive change to Malawi.”

Ndasowa adds, “It is also comforting to know that we have colleagues facing similar obstacles, and that whether in Malawi, Liberia, New York City, or Boston, we have a team of people behind us and supporting us.” 

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The Empathy Gap

Posted on 03/31/2020

Abraham Zerihun Megentta is the Regional Advisor Consultant, East and Southern Africa for Last Mile Health’s Community Health Academy. Below, he reflects on what we can learn about empathy from the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, has now spread to more than 100 countries including my home country, Ethiopia. Panic, […]

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