Virtual Doctors Blog - Shakerrie Allmond
My name is Livi. I’m a final year university student in the UK and am planning a career in journalism. As such, I’m interested in writing about global affairs and am drawn to the work done by the Virtual Doctors. Here is the fourth instalment in a series of blogs I’ve written about the organisation and its stakeholders. I’ve been inspired by my conversations and want to introduce you to some of the employees and volunteers and give some brief insight into the diversity of roles they play. Everyone I speak too are all making a valuable contribution to help to deliver this innovative telemedicine service.
I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Shakerrie Allmond. She is on the Board of Directors for the Virtual Doctors - Zambia, living and working in Zambia herself. Shakerrie’s main function in the role is to manage relationships with staff and stakeholders, a task perfectly suited to her bubbly personality and infectious energy. She has been involved with the charity for a year and believes passionately in the work that they do.
Shakerrie hails from Richmond, Virginia, where she built up a wealth of experience in healthcare management. Being in this sector she has worked with multiple hospitals and nursing facilities in the Richmond, Yorktown and Washington DC areas. When asked about whether life in Zambia is different to that in Richmond her response was “oh yeah baby, vastly different”. To be honest, it was the answer I was expecting! Shakerrie misses the conveniences that she became accustomed to in the US but does enjoy the slower pace of life in Africa. It is much more relaxed and a less stressful environment to live in. She says, “eventually I will go back to the US but my ideal would be to find myself in a position where I can go back and forth, not necessarily settle in one place”.
A day in the life of Shakerrie involves many things. She works with the local staff to ensure that they are meeting their targets and looks over budgets to see that finances are being used efficiently and correctly. As well as this she troubleshoots any issues that people may be having or refers them to the right person and ensures that relationships with stakeholders are positive and therefore continue. This latter role means that she gets to organise events and create spaces for people to meet, network and build new relationships. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, she does some in-country fundraising on the side! It’s an incredibly varied and busy role but on the plus side, it seems that no day is the same and its certainly very sociable.
Shakerrie’s favourite part of working for the Virtual Doctors is “knowing that I am making a difference. Hearing back from Clinical Officers, working out in the field and seeing people being helped is really rewarding.” Those working for the Virtual Doctors prove that there are other ways of treating disease. It helps people to realise that you don’t necessarily need a high dose of antibiotics or a very complex treatment. There are simpler, more accessible ways to cure people. This is valuable work in a country such as Zambia.
I asked Shakerrie if she has always seen herself working for a charity. She replied that it is not necessarily the charity aspect that draws her in. Many organisations conduct a variety of charitable projects and so, for Shakerrie, her mission is more specific. In the work that she does Shakerrie will always ask herself, whether she is not only helping others, but providing them with a service they need and can use that doesn’t bring any harm to anyone else. At the Virtual Doctors she has found exactly that, the benefits their work bring to the community is far-reaching and long lasting.
Furthermore, on speaking to Shakerrie, this work looks set to continue! With a pilot underway in Malawi, a further six clinics are receiving the service. If deemed successful there are hopes the reach can extend across that country. And to add to the excitement of expansion discussions are ongoing for a trial, moving into Kenya next year. As well as this, Shakerrie’s team have been asked to scout Rwanda to explore whether the project would be viable there. This is great news and shows how ambitious the small charity is. Shakerrie says, “It’s great that the service is expanding because the Virtual Doctors is definitely doing good in the community. They are creating a better atmosphere for the healthcare workers who are usually very isolated.” Positive feedback such as this, from those like Shakerrie working out in the field, is wonderful to hear and helps assure the charity’s hardworking team that their work is making a difference.
Watch this space – there are many exciting things to discover and more interesting people to talk about… all of them playing a part in helping to deliver the Virtual Doctors vision to take the service across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
Volunteer Digital Champion
8 July 2019