Since I began studying public health, I have been interested in improving the health of socially marginalized groups. So, when I read about the practicum at Zi Teng, an NGO that focuses on improving the well-being of sex workers in Hong Kong, I thought it would be a great fit for me.
Most of my work at Zi Teng was out in the community, raising awareness about our services and collecting data and information on the sex workers needs. Every workday, I would spend most of my time traveling to a district in HK, to the brothels, massage parlors, and other places of business, to distribute newsletters and sexual health products and try to build trust with the women, so that should they have a problem, they knew whom to contact. I learned that despite being considered a “high-risk” group for HIV, STDs are not the major issues of HK sex workers, but rather violence, theft, violation, and discrimination are the factors that threaten health in this population.
I was constantly challenged and forced to step outside of my comfort zone, both in terms of my communication abilities and cultural competency. As a result I am a stronger, more assertive, and professional because of my practicum experience.
Brianna Hope OTT (MPH Full-Time 2016-2017, ID)