Meet CUREkids Coordinator Avanell Brock
CURE Hospitals exist to “heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God”. Being based in Malawi and Mozambique for the past 13 years has made me very familiar with their hospital in Blantyre as a patient, patient’s parent and networker/referral service for friends from the village needing help. I’ve been really impressed with their quality of service and professionalism as well as the caliber of people they attract who work there.
One of the positions that falls squarely into my interest, and perhaps yours too, is called “CUREkids Coordinator“. I’ve known a few over the years who have been based out of Blantyre. I recently was able to chat with Avanell Brock (website | blog | Instagram) about her work at CURE and am excited to share our chat with you.
What does your job entail?
I am currently the CUREkids Coordinator at the CURE International Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. CURE provides free (or, at some of our hospitals, for a nominal fee) surgery for kids.
Our hospital in Malawi is an orthopedic hospital, treating bones and muscles, so we do lots of surgeries for deformities like knock-knee, bowleg, clubfoot, osteomyelitis (infected bone) and burn contractures.
Part of the way we raise funds is through child sponsorship; people can go on our website and follow a specific kid’s journey and donate towards their surgeries. As the CUREkids Coordinators my coworker Thandy (a native Malawian) and I make basic profiles for all of the kids, including a short story about them, a before, after, and profile photo.
We also have about 4 or 5 kids at any one time who are published to the CURE International website who I take photos and write daily status updates about. A big part of my job is photographing the surgeries of our published kids, and I am also required to write one blog post per month.
How did you first hear about the job?
I heard about the job through an acquaintance, Joel Witwer, who was a graduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology when I came in as a freshman and for a year had the CKC position in Zambia. He messaged me my junior year and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in the positions in other countries, and I applied for the first time soon after that.
What requirements did CURE have for their CUREkids Coordinator position?
The job description with requirements is pretty much always online since different countries need CKCs at different times of the year. Major requirements are photography, videography, writing/communication and travel experience, as well as being able to work with kids. You also need to sign a statement of faith, as CURE is a Christian organization.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I think being able to interact with Malawian kids on a daily basis is probably my favorite part of my job. Unless it’s right after surgery they’re pretty much always happy and giggly and its great to be in such a cheerful environment all the time.
It’s also really powerful when a kid walks in for their final appointment and you look at them and realize that no one who meets them now will ever know that they had a disability, and to realize that you had a small part in that, in their story.
What kind of training do you feel has been most important for your current position?
Definitely having 4 years in a well-known photography program at Rochester Institute of Technology was a big check for me, but in terms of the training that was most important… I actually applied for this job my junior year of college (intending on taking a gap year) and didn’t get it. The hiring manager told me to work getting some travel experience and on my videography portfolio. Because of that feedback, I traveled to India, and took several videography/multimedia classes my senior year.
Taking those multimedia classes in particular definitely finessed all of my skills, not just video but also photography, audiography and storytelling and was extremely valuable in my growth. Traveling to India I think was also crucial in showing me what I was in for living in a developing country and although I think I still would have adjusted fine showed that I was serious about wanting this job.
What do you wish you had learned more about (if anything). Or is this more of a learn-on-the-job kind of thing?
I had photography and job training before I came to Malawi but I really wish I had had more cross-cultural training on how Africans communicate, cultural expectations, social mores and the like. I wasn’t really provided with that sort of training and I think it would have been invaluable to have had a class or book on that.