Story posted February 08, 2008
Kali Erickson '94 has worked in Latin America and, most recently, southeastern Africa, addressing the health and nutrition needs of the poor. For her tireless efforts, Erickson has been selected by the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees to receive the 2008 Common Good Award.
Established on the occasion of the Bowdoin College Bicentennial, the Common Good Award honors those alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary, profound, and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gain in wealth or status.
Erickson, who received master's degrees in nutrition and public health from Tufts University in 2002, is currently working in southeastern Africa.
"I am working in central Mozambique, living in the city of Beira, which is pretty much ground zero for the AIDS epidemic," said Erickson. "I'm managing health and nutrition programs for an organization called Food for the Hungry."
The international relief and development organization endeavors to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the poor in more than 26 countries by implementing long-term development programs such as agriculture training, clean water and food security programs, church development, child development, nutrition education and HIV/AIDS care and prevention programs.
"[Beira] has very interesting architecture and history, but has suffered the effects of time, neglect and, of course, war," Erickson says. "I lived for seven years in Latin America, and worked in Nepal for a short time, but nothing compares with the issues in sub-Saharan Africa."
Erickson previously worked as a senior program specialist for Curamericas, an organization founded in 1983 with a flagship program in Bolivia's Altiplano. Curamericas uses census-based, impact-oriented methodology (CBIO) to address health needs in communities in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti and Mexico.
The CBIO approach incorporates a community census of households and a health assessment of the project area, a drawing of maps and numbering of households, and the development of a program plan with community members that includes both epidemiologically driven health objectives as well as community perceived health priorities.
She also served as the project director for Esperanza Peru's Child Survival Project in Apurímac in the high Andes of Peru. Esperanza works with local families and professionals on education, training local health providers, creating health education materials for non-literate audiences, designing health education campaigns and mobilizing local communities to confront health problems. Esperanza focuses on maternal health, nutrition, diarrhea disease control and respiratory disease control.
Erickson has also served as a member of the Safe Motherhood & Reproductive Health Working Group of the Child Survival Collaborations and Resources Group, a network of non-profits working together to improve primary healthcare for women and children in the communities in which they live.
Common Good Award recipients personify the idea of the common good as set forth by Bowdoin's first president, Joseph McKeen. In his inaugural address on September 2, 1902, McKeen reminded his audience that, "It ought always to be remembered that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education. It is not that they may be able to pass through life in an easy and reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society."
The Common Good Award will be presented Saturday, May 31, 2008, during Reunion Convocation.