Having been selected out of 500 odd applicants, Kim Fry is about to take on a potentally life changing Fellowship over three months, travelling between Seattle and South Africa. He tells us more about this once in a life time opportunity and what it means to him.
So Kim, you’ve been selected to take part in some pretty special research through MSD. Tell us what it is that you’re tripping across the globe to do!
I have been chosen this year as 1 of 30 MSD Fellows globally who will be matched with various NGOs (non-government organisations or charities as we used to call them!) and spend 3 months immersed with them to complete a defined project. The project that I and 2 other colleagues will work on is for a small bio-therapeutics company based in Capetown, called Afrigen. Their vision is to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines targeted to the key infectious diseases within Africa (HIV, TB, leishmaniasis, malaria). This vision is nicely summed up by their tag-line “In Africa, For Africa”. We will work closely with Afrigen and their parent company IDRI (who are based in Seattle, Washington) to develop a high level strategic plan to identify what Afrigen need to do to accelerate their vision.
This is quite a privilege. What made you want to be involved?
Working in the pharma industry, I know our products have a profound and positive impact on the health of Kiwis…however this impact I rarely get to see first-hand. By being accepted for the MSD/RTC Fellowship, the work I do will have a lot more meaning in terms of helping Africans access better health resources, something we in the developed world take for granted. My main motivation is the sense of ‘giving back’ and being of service to a population that really needs more help than they are getting.
For you, what does this mean in a personal and professional capacity?
Personally, the sense of being of service to humankind is the real buzz I expect to get (the project work itself will not be new to me!). I hope to spend some of the downtime I have while in Capetown (e.g. weekends) to get involved in community based charities, whether working in a ‘soup kitchen’, helping the young and needy; that type of thing inspires me. I also want to use this opportunity to really get to know a community that will be very different to the one I experience on a daily basis. Previous years Fellow describe their experiences as truly life-changing.
You’re a seasoned traveller, but this is quite different. What are you doing to prepare yourself for three months travelling between Seattle and South Africa?
Apart from the travel vaccinations and the frustration that is the online US Visa application process, trying to confine my wardrobe for 3 months away in two different continents and the climate differences each present between Sub-Saharan Africa and Seattle is my main challenge! Looking forward to the cuisine of South Africa (all that meat!) and I will make a special trip to Portland, Oregon to sample their fine craft beers.
While you’re in Seattle…could you find the Kurt Cobain memorial and take a picture of it please? It’s vital research also.
Who’s Kurt Cobain? (just joking Annie, given you’re such a fan, of course I will)
Where can people go to find out more about the Fellowship and what you will be involved in?
This link will take people who are interested to learn more, to the official MSD Fellowship community website.
Kim intends to post blogs during his Fellowship. We will repsot those as he does so we can follow his journey.You can also get updates and further info on his LinkedIn profile.