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20 Qs with PMA2020/Ethiopia | Mahari

1.     What is your name and role in PMA2020?
​Mahari Yihdego, Research Coordinator of the core PMA2020/Ethiopia and Program Coordinator of the PMA2020 Maternal and Newborn Health validation study.​


2.    How did you get involved with PMA2020?
I got involved from the commencement of the program in Ethiopia, November 2014. I was contact by the Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI (Drs. Solomon Shiferaw and Assefa Seme) who invited me to work as the regional coordinator of the Southern Nations Nationalities and People​ (SNNP) region. I didn’t hesitate even for a second and accepted their invitation with gratitude, which was the turning point in my professional career!

3.    What does your typical day look like?
Most days I wake up early in the morning and join the central staff of PMA2020/Ethiopia team in the office. I got involved in both technical and administrative activities. For example, during the most recent field survey (Round 4), I participated in the preparation, training and the actual fieldwork; some of the activities that I got involved are in development, modification and translation of the PMA2020 survey tools, booking of the training centers, preparation of training materials and dealing with all payment-related activities for the field team. 

4.    What skills do you most frequently employ in your work with PMA2020?
Facilitating and coordinating trainings and field-related activities. I’m also heavily engaged in the training and supervision of the field team. I get to apply my teaching and research skills and experiences.

5.    What is your favorite thing about working with PMA2020?
It makes me familiar with the latest technologies of data collection and dissemination. It is also a great pleasure to get the opportunity of working with very intellectual and decent people.

6.    If you could describe PMA2020 in three words, what would you say?
Smart, Swift and Trustworthy!

7.    Why do you think PMA2020 is important?
I believe that it is wise to make decisions based on frequent and reliable data. PMA2020 is a pioneer in delivering cost effective, timely and reliable data to policy makers and programmers. Therefore, PMA2020 is very important to ensure the availability of such data, which most organizations and governments are in need of.

8.    What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Recruiting Resident Enumerators (REs) for most of the enumeration areas (EAs). Given the overall educational status of the country and the remoteness of the EAs we faced some challenges of getting REs that qualify for the required criteria and who are also residents of the selected EAs.

Mahari-1_20161001_102544 copy.jpg9.    What do you like to do in your free time?
I really enjoy watching movies and listening to international news.

10.    If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
Chairman of the Microsoft Corporation, William Henry Gates III. 

11.    What are some valuable lessons learned from your time in PMA2020?
We should always explore new ways of approaching the tasks that we want to accomplish. I should keep moving forward regardless of the speculations that frequently knock on everybody’s door saying that we cannot do it, whatever "it" may be, and all the discouraging ideas we hear.

12.    How would you encourage young students hoping to do similar work that you are doing?
The future is bright for the youngsters as we are benefiting more than the preceding generations. If they utilize just part of the energy they possess they will inevitably be more successful than my generation; but I believe that they should be committed and hardworking to the tasks they are entrusted.

13.    If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?

14.    What is your favorite public health topic?
Maternal and child health issues.

15.    Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I would like to be one of the best researchers and academicians in Ethiopia.

16.    What are you afraid of?
Conflict and instability.

17.    What is the most interesting thing you have learned while working with PMA2020?
The miracles of the Open Data Kit (ODK) application and the forms.

18.    If you could change one thing about anything, what would it be?
I would change the world to be a very peaceful and better place for humankind.

Mahari-3_DSC02196.jpg19.    Who is your role model and why?
In the place where I grew up, we just wished to be either a doctor, pilot, engineer; however, my former teachers, Drs. Amanuel Gessessaw & Fitihanegest Mamo, both obstetrician and gynecologist, were my heroes and wonderful teachers who made me to wish and decide to be a teacher.

20.    Any last words?
I would like to thank the organizers of the ‘20 Days of Data’ for offering me to share my experiences to the world. I would like to thank the PMA2020/Ethiopia field team, the Johns Hopkins team, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopian Public Health Association, Central Statistics Agency of Ethiopia, other government and nongovernment organizations for their hard work and cooperation throughout the success stories of the PMA2020/Ethiopia project. Last but not least, it gives me a great pleasure that I have the opportunity to forward my deepest gratitude to Drs. Solomon Shiferaw and Assefa Seme, the PIs of the project and my instructors, for the golden opportunities they offered me and for entrusting me in such an important job.