Healing the World through Communication: A Q&A with Lute M’kala, a PSI Global Health Corps Fellow

By Maria Dieter, External Relations and Communications Assistant, PSI

A person can contribute to the fight against injustice in any number of ways. Yesterday, we posted a Q&A with Global Health Corps fellow Jasmine Burton, who uses her expertise in toilet design to fight sanitation inequality. Today, we asked Society for Family Health and Global Health Corps fellow Lute “Ruth” M’kala a few questions about how she plans to use her expertise in communications to fight injustice.

A native of Mufulira, Zambia, Ruth is a graduate of the University of Namibia, where she majored in media studies and political science. Ruth understands that communication is the key to behavior change, and wants to use her knowledge of media studies to communicate an effective message to Zambians. With her “communication and media weapon,” Ruth joins the fight to give every person a healthy, dignified life.

PSI’s Maria Dieter chats with Ruth to learn a little more about her path to joining GHC.

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I see you have an extensive background in Communications and Media Studies. What motivated you to combine your background with global health?

GHC motivated me. I remember reading the ad in the paper and thinking to myself, ‘what are the odds that I get to be part of this community? Am I even good enough to be part of them? Could this be the first step for me in my cause and dream of healing the world?’

I remember reading the GHC mission and vision on the website and it amazed me how everything I’ve wanted to do since I was 11 years old was explained to me in just one paragraph;

“We believe that every person has the right to live a healthy, dignified life. We also believe that everyone has a role to play in advancing social justice through the health equity movement”.

I was filled with so much emotion because how could someone think just like me? How did I not know they are not only people out there BUT young people who are gearing up, standing up, taking and using their weapons and going to battle for health equity? In that moment, I decided I was going to use my communication and media weapon and join the fight. I decided whether I get chosen for the fellowship or not, I was still going to join in the fight because they had done me a favor by giving me a clear picture of what I wanted to do through the GHC vision.

How do you plan to use your skills in communications to benefit those Society for Family Health serves?

 SFH has been doing an amazing job in communicating their products and services and I feel so honored that I get to be part of this team. With the help and guidance of the SFH management, I plan on not only coming up with communication strategies that aim to communicate but also to come up with strategies that aim to communicate effectively. It is one thing to communicate, and but it is another thing to communicate effectively.

For example, sex is sex and whether we like it or not, young people are engaging themselves in the act so we might just as well talk to them about it. We might just as well show them how to use condoms. We might just as well encourage them to take contraceptives. We need to convince parents that we live in a world of ‘selfies’ now in which our children have the ‘I’ll do what I want’ mentality, and the best way to protect them is to talk to them about sex and educate them.

Healthy families make up a wealthy society and that is what SFH is all about as. I plan on bringing to the table my uncensored voice and ideas on how best we will reach our target audience in different ways while conveying the same message.

You’re originally from Zambia, but you’ve spent the past few years in Namibia. How does it feel to return home with so much more experience?

I had always wanted to come back to Zambia and use my knowledge to positively contribute to my country and having to coming back with not only knowledge but experience is such a delight. I am so excited that I came back with not only a dream of healing the world, but the actual dream becoming a reality, and now I get a chance to begin my work towards healing the world in my own country.

How do you think being a native Zambian will bolster your experience with GHC?

Just the fact that GHC has given me the opportunity to be a change maker in my own country is the boost I need. I plan on pursuing a Masters in International Relations and what better way to head that direction with my first step being GHC.

Your co-fellow’s work focuses on sanitation. Are you planning on working in WASH as well, or are there other areas you are interested in pursuing?

Everyone has their own dream and aspirations and Jazz is a perfect co-fellow. She is … driven to make the world a better place and I admire her work.

One thing I know about my journey is that it is a  journey that will enable me to advocate for anything that screams social inequality, advocating for us to adopt what philosopher John Rawls referred to as the ‘Veil of Ignorance’  in which decisions are made with no one having the knowledge of their position in society.

Barbara Bush and GHC fellows

Ruth with Barbara Bush and other GHC fellows