Victoria Smith '06 — Developing Countries
Victoria Smith is paying it forward as she works to improve the health of people in one of the most remote areas in the world
By Donna Parker
Madalitso Mapi, mother, Barnet Mapi, son, and her two other children speak with Smith and Blessings Banda, HIV/Nutrition program manager for APZU.
Victoria Smith traveled to Malawi a year ago to serve as the external relations coordinator for Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU)-the sister site of Partners in Health (PIH). She documents the organization's incredible impact on saving lives and improving global health with stories and photos that are used for donor relations, communications, and social media.
"I am so grateful for this opportunity," Victoria says. "Serving the country of Malawi, which is very rural and one of the least developed countries in the world, is very exciting."
Daily, she interviews patients who have received services from PIH and shares those stories via the Internet. She also builds development and communications capacity for APZU by documenting their work through stories and photography for development and communications material. This is no easy task, considering there are no paved roads and Victoria lives an hour's drive up a dirt mountain road, which she says is really not a road at all.
"There are 130,000 people in my district, so I travel in either a Land Rover or on a motorcycle. It is a really fun scene to be here," Victoria says. "Many families live in brick huts, which they build themselves, and it is such a rich area in terms of community and culture."
Victoria's own living quarters are considered "posh," due to the rare amenities of cold running water, electricity, and even Internet access. "It is also a very safe place to live," she says. "People are amazed at that. There are about 15 expats here and we all feel very safe."
Victoria had never left the U.S. until she studeid abroad in the U.K. while attending Trinity. "Once I started to travel, the whole world was opened up to me," Victoria says. "I made a commitment in college to explore and become more involved in international causes."
Victoria says Trinity was a strong influence in her social justice role. "Dr. Gibson and Dr. Butler were huge mentors. Dr. Mary Anne Tetrault in political science helped me see my role in activism, and Dr. Aarons in the English department helped me get my first grant writing job while still at Trinity," she says.
On campus, Victoria was involved with the Trinity University Volunteer Action Community (TUVAC) as co-director and co-head of the recycling proram, which occupied a large part of her time. She's kept many of her college friends and looks forward to continuing her activist efforts and traveling the world while doing so.
"I'm coming home this summer after working in the field for a year, and I'm actually very sad about leaving Malawi," Victoria says. "However, I plan to use this time as a transition to work and use this experience to fuel my next step."
You may email Victoria at
Story posted: July 2013