Name: Rania Dali
Class Year: 2022
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Internship Organization: Prevention Point Philadelphia
Job Title: Community Outreach, Development, and Education Intern
What’s happening at your internship?
Prevention Point is a public health organization that seeks to improve access to medical services and promote empowerment and safety to the community of Kensington, Philadelphia, which is largely affected by drug use and poverty. Therefore, every day my tasks change depending on the needs of our participants and my ability to cater to their needs.
Why did you apply for this internship? What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?
I applied to intern with Prevention Point Philadelphia because I wanted to work with a public health organization that is very integrated in the community that it serves, and when a friend at Bryn Mawr who interned with PPP last summer told me about her experience, it seemed perfect. PPP is in the heart of Kensington, which makes it easily accessible for people in need of syringe services, wound care, or just a hot meal. Now the question that comes up is: Why is an organization serving a community affected by drug use handing out free syringes on a weekly basis? This is called a harm reduction approach. Harm reduction aims to reduce the harm associated with drug use, meaning reducing the amount of overdose deaths and HIV/Hepatitis cases. Overcoming addiction is a battle and recovery is not a thought everyone has, therefore, many continue to use drugs no matter whether they have access to new syringes or not. Handing out new syringes means fewer people sharing their used syringes and fewer HIV/Hepatitis cases. Since PPP opened 27 years ago, it has expanded its services to include case management, HIV/Hepatitis testing, mail service, medically assisted treatment, shelter and more. As a result, I learned a lot about harm reduction as a service and practice. More importantly, I found ways to connect it to my major by exploring the cost effectiveness of PPP as a harm reduction program since it opened its doors and the ratio between cost of HIV cases prevented vs. the cost of syringes given out.
What has been your favorite part of this internship?
My favorite part of interning at Prevention Point has been working with my team and interacting with the participants. My team is very small so I can always get immediate feedback on my work and ask questions. Since I work as an outreach and engagement intern, a lot of my work serves to engage the community and allow the participants to voice their needs and concerns. Recently, I have been doing presentations about HIV medications and chronic homelessness to our participants in the drop-in area and they’re very responsive. They ask questions and provide me with feedback that I can use to better cater to their needs. For my most recent project, I filmed a guidelines video for our staff and participants and once I played it in the drop-ins, the participants were so excited to see familiar faces on the screen and they clapped at the end, which made me realize the impact I’m having on the community even if it means making one person smile.