June 9, 2022

5 Questions with Fumane Lekoala

Our monthly check-in with staff from around the world. Learn more about the people who work at CHAI.

Please tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to CHAI.

My academic background is in English and theatre. Prior to joining CHAI, I worked for a local communication organization where I conducted a lot of research on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) prevention among adolescents and young people. The research informed the National HIV Social and Behavioural Communication Strategic Plan. This is where I fell in love with public health leading to a growing interest in working for health organizations.

When I applied to CHAI, I had no idea what CHAI was or what the organization did apart from the fact that it is an international health organization. My interest peaked when I was preparing for the interview and did a comprehensive internet search on CHAI. CHAI’s mission and values continue to resonate deeply with me, especially our commitment to support governments and work in complete cooperation with host countries. My first project at CHAI was a district-level implementation of the pediatric HIV project, coordinating the efforts of four implementing partners and successfully identifying and linking hundreds of children and adults to HIV treatment programs. I am currently working on the Vaccines Program supporting the introduction of new vaccines in Lesotho and strengthening immunization service delivery systems at all levels.

1. What does a typical day at CHAI look like to you?

We work in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, specifically the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI). Every day at CHAI is different, but most of my work centers on providing technical support to the EPI program at the national and district levels. So, most times I am in strategic direction setting and progress monitoring meetings with the EPI and its partners.

2. What is the best thing about your job?

I love working autonomously, while also knowing that should I need support from my colleagues and supervisors, it will be instantaneously available. CHAI affords me the opportunity to truly own my work and to grow in my public health career.

3. What is the most challenging part of your job?

Working with the Ministry of Health is both a challenge and a thrill. In providing support, we cannot move forward before our counterparts within the ministry are clear on the vision and work that we are proposing. Fortunately, relationship management and coordination are CHAI’s strong points. While it may take a while for a project to gain momentum, once everyone comes on board with the plan, we execute our work plan with ease.

4. What has been one of your proudest moments working at CHAI?

In April 2022, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Education finally launched the HPV vaccination campaign. This happened exactly three years since our first HPV technical working group meeting in May 2019. We have vaccinated approximately 100,000 girls in Lesotho to protect them against cervical cancer. I am most proud of our collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Training, Ministry of Local Government, and Chieftainship, at both the national and district levels from the very beginning of planning. Together, we have demonstrated the immense potential to succeed when multi-disciplinary stakeholders collaborations lead planning and shape health interventions.

5. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

While on a team retreat last year, I shocked myself by abseiling down a 25-meter cliff and landing on a rocky river edge. I’m planning to conquer the 108 meters abseil soon.

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