Community Engagement in Grenada


Soha Khedkar

3rd Year, MBA, MPH, Health Behavior Health Education Candidate

The Public Health in Action week-long field experience in Grenada is one I’ll never forget. As a first timer to public health community engagement fieldwork, my excitement for this work was initially paired with apprehension. What if I can’t connect with local Grenadians? What if they don’t trust me enough to share their stories? What if I say or do something culturally insensitive without realizing it? Would I ever be able to do work like this again? 

Once we arrived in Grenada, I quickly realized that my fears could be set aside. The Grenadian people may have the most welcoming, kind, and open culture that I have ever interacted with.  Wherever we went, locals were incredibly willing to share their support, stories, customs, and even their homes with us.  

My team was working with the Grenada Red Cross Society (GRCS) to understand local perspectives and behaviors related to voluntary blood donation. The GRCS team was very thoughtful in putting together a schedule for us, which enabled us to traverse most of the island and interact with a wide variety of stakeholders and locals, including schoolteachers, policemen,  shop owners, and even some lively college students. We couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor team - they both set us up for success by ensuring we had all the support we needed,  while also giving us the autonomy to interview stakeholders and locals as we saw fit. 

While the week was full of too many learnings to recount completely, these are the ones I will  cherish the most from this experience: 

  • The absolute generosity of the Grenadian people is their superpower and secret weapon. Every individual we spoke to expressed a passionate desire to help others,  even if it meant some discomfort for themselves. 
  •  Grenadians are very humble and incredibly self-aware. Many were very transparent with us about the gaps in their knowledge related to blood donation and their willingness to learn and change their behaviors if they simply had more information. 
  •  Finally, community engagement fieldwork is one of the most rewarding experiences I  may ever have. This experience deepened my appreciation for public health work and strengthened my resolve to advocate for community engagement in any healthcare work  I do in the future. 

As we wrap up our final report and deliverables for this project, I truly believe that our work will have lasting impacts on the Grenadian people. It is humbling and profoundly gratifying to know that I may have contributed in a small way to a big cause for a community that is incredibly resilient, caring, and deserving.