Spotlight on Katherine Kalaris
Dawn Cushin McGowen coached Katherine through her Senior Moves in the Field and Senior Freestyle tests at South Mountain. She also completed all her Silver dances with David Lipowitz and then left us in 2003 to attend Dartmouth College. There she continued her skating career as a competitor on the undefeated Dartmouth Figure Skating Club Collegiate Team, which won 4 National Collegiate Team Championships. At the 2007 Collegiate Nationals, Katherine won the Junior Ladies Long Program and was inducted into the Dartmouth Athletic Hall of Fame.
We contacted Katherine recently and she brought us up to date:
I have been living in Yaoundé, Cameroon since August 2013 however this is not my first time living in Africa. My passion for Africa first began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso and it has taken me through Ethiopia before landing in Cameroon.
Cameroon is in Central West Africa, situated on the Gulf of Guinea, and is bordered by Nigeria, Chad, the Central Africa Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of the Congo. The country is one of the most biologically, geographically, and ethnically diverse nations in Africa. It is often called “Africa in miniature” or “Africa in microcosm.” There are 2 main cities in Cameroon: Yaoundé, which is located inland and is the political and administrative capital and Douala, located on the coast, hosting the country’s main port and acts as the economic capital. Cameroonians are a very vibrant and jovial people.
Yaoundé has about 1.5 million inhabitants and is a sprawling and very hilly city. It can be quite chaotic navigating the streets between the taxis, motos, people selling things, and the occasional herd of cattle. The city is very green and has relatively temperate weather all year round with a short and long dry and rainy seasons. On the weekends you will find lots of people walking and running up Mt. Fébé.
I work for the Clinton Health Access Initiative and run the Family Planning Program. We provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Public Health to increase the availability and access to family planning services. Cameroon has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality worldwide; there are 782 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. Access to family planning services to space and delay childbirth can reduce maternal deaths by one-third. Our work includes ensuring that there are healthcare workers trained in family planning and that contraceptives are available, as well as that services are being offered. We also support the Ministry with their strategic and operational planning for family planning and the rollout of a pharmaceutical logistics management information system. The work can be very challenging at times, but also very rewarding, and we have made a significant amount of progress in a relatively short period of time.