Class this week has been partly focused on The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. The goals are wide-ranging and cover themes such as No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Climate Action, and Good Health and Well-being. Achieving each goal is ambitious but urgent. My favourite thing about the SDGs is that they are interdependent. Each goal cannot be achieved without other goals working in unison. For example, if an organisation wanted to help provide contraception and family planning facilities in Nigeria, a place with the highest birth rate in thew world, it would be addressing Goal 3 (Health and Well-being). The project would not be successful without other aspects of the SDGs contributing to the project. For example, SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), as in Northern Nigeria, contraceptive prevalence is very low due to the fact that the husbands of these women have to consent before they access any form of contraception. These social norms and taboos play a role in preventing young girls from accessing sexual health care. SDG 4 (quality of education) would also be important as a lot of health outreach initiatives require educational programs running alongside them. The SDGs interdependence does make achieving them more challenging; a country cannot just strive to achieve one goal and then another later. The execution of these goals needs to be strategic and parallel. Is it an easy task? No. Is it a possible task? I don’t know. Is it something we should focus our energy and resources on? Absolutely.
Our visual literacy projects are both focused on Health and Well-being, contributing in a small way to SDG 3. The part of the SDGs that infiltrates our program most dramatically is not the technicalities behind them, but the term interdependence that joins them together. Our group is very interdependent. We function so well as a collective. Initially a group of strangers. Now a group of great friends with memories and laughs to last a lifetime. I have laughed to tears most days, and each person in our group brings something to make the program function. Helen, my wonderful room mate, brings her energetic smile and quick comments. Megan, my new friend from Michigan, brings her artistic vision and witty humour. Wanjiku, my fellow international student, brings the funniest and most surprising one liners. Jasmine, my hiking buddy, brings her organisational prowess and graceful poise. Kellen, my sound guy, brings his camera and photography skills wherever we go. Jordan, my society sister, brings her wide grin and kind heart. Heeral, my workout companion, brings his southern charm and encouraging words. Jazz, my spicy Mexican queen, brings her directing talent and vibrant personality. I bring hobnobs and a British accent.
We are a group of very different people. But we work together to achieve something special. Our projects have the ability to do great things in the world. This summer has the potential to be one we remember forever. Our projects and summers would not have worked with such cohesion if one of us were missing. We are a cohesive collective working together to achieve a big overarching goal, but also individual goals.
In our group, I have witnessed the way that so many factors play a role in success. I witnessed four people holding different objects around a camera to block light for the perfect shot whilst two other people recorded the whole thing to create one second of a documentary. Nicholas, a contact of Jonathan’s, used his local theatre knowledge to help us source all of our actors. Welcome made our dream clinic location a reality. These were some of many things needed to help us reach our project goal. Now I realise the immense task to achieve the SDGs and all the moving parts that need to function to achieve them. The key to success is team work. It is easy to say this as an individual looking in and definitely not that simple in reality. The team of Yale students currently occupying Mountain Inn have achieved what we have so far because we are all in this together-just like the High School Musical song. Maybe that is something that we need to do more as a global community too.