Faith ChabediDr. Faith Chabedi initiated a non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides eye care to underprivileged children in her native South Africa prior to her enrollment in the Salus MPH program. An NGO is an organization independent of any form of government intervention – even if government funded – with specific objectives that are oriented to bring about desirable change in a given community or area or situation.

As an optometrist she says, “I see a connection between the lack of health information in South Africa (except on HIV) and poor treatment compliance due to a lack of health literacy and effective communication.” She wants to fill that gap. Dr. Chabedi gives talks to educate, influence and lobby for eye care
and health as human rights.

Her MPH capstone project encouraged her to “ask questions about things happening around me, especially those impacted by my profession.” South Africa has less information about eye care and there is an opportunity to fill the gap by conducting research to provide answers. Dr. Chabedi notes, “When I was in (optometry) school I thought it would be easier to leave private practice and concentrate completely on public health.” The reality is that she continues to practice optometry, combining that profession with her public health background which she notes, “gave me the confidence to speak from researched information.”

A current member and past president of the South African Optometric Association, Dr. Chabedi is also a senior clinical advisor for Special Olympics Opening Eyes Africa Region, a volunteer post near and dear to her heart. Her advice for new graduates is to volunteer, as the experience can also provide an opportunity to serve as well as to acquire practice hours.

As for work/life balance, Dr. Chabedi says, “I have three children. My activities revolve around them, to meet their needs both at home and at school.” Admitting that “this is just not easy,” Dr. Chabedi says she has learned to seek help and to do “only what I need to do and leave the rest to the delegated parties with accountability.” While she admits it is not a perfect setup, it works for this busy woman who is committed to making big changes.