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Sommer Scholars

Meghan Battle

Master of Public Health Student

The Cambodian woman, a mother of several children, was in her late 30s and having one life-threatening miscarriage after another. Her husband wouldn’t allow birth control, and she was determined to obey him, she told Meghan Battle, cofounder of Our Strength, a health education and counseling program for women in Battambang, Cambodia. Battle refuses to be discouraged. Staff members of Our Strength continue to visit the woman, she says, to deepen her trust in them. “We don’t want to be an organization that ignores family dynamics,” Battle says. “You may come to a country with ideas about what health programs should look like, but the people to whom we’re providing the services should decide what is offered, and how it’s offered.” After graduating from college, Battle moved to northwest Cambodia, learned to speak Khmer and, with Cambodian colleague Kunthea Ros, founded a women’s health education program at the Msg. Oscar Romero Pastoral Center. Last year, the two women launched Our Strength, the nation’s only nongovernmental organization for holistic women’s health education and counseling. With a staff of three full-time women, a part-time accountant, 16 village health volunteers and an annual budget of around $30,000, Our Strength served 1,000 women in its first year of operation. “We’re all about trying to change structures like poor health systems that make it more difficult for people to make good choices,” she says. 1,000: Number of women served in one year by Our Strength, the NGO co-founded by Battle