Danielle Nerber: Empowering Young Women in Rural Africa

Danielle is a senior who participated in the Tanzania trip this past summer. She is now leading a project that will empower young women in Africa by teaching them how to sew reusable sanitary pads.

Danielle Nerber is one of the students who went on the Tanzania trip this summer. She is a senior in the Honors College, majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Pharmacology and Toxicology, with the intent of moving on to medical school after she graduates in May. She's interested in pediatrics, women’s health and global health, and she would love to work for Doctors Without Borders someday.

Danielle certainly has an interest in studying and traveling abroad, having spent one summer abroad in Greece and Turkey and another in Spain and Portugal (both were study abroad programs through UB). She has always wanted to see the Serengeti, so she knew she had to go on this trip to Tanzania.

She admits she learned a lot about herself through the experience. “I learned that I am passionate about engaging with other cultures. I learned that I love sharing these experiences with other people because I want to educate others on the importance of getting out of your comfort zone, traveling, and seeing other parts of the world…I learned that the world isn’t as big and divided as it seems, and one shouldn’t fear what they don’t know, so go and explore.”

When describing her experience and the things she saw, she says that people tend to focus on what Africa doesn’t have, rather than on what they do have. “We were there to see what they do have, and see the beauty and eagerness to succeed that is engraved in the people and the country. We visited schools that were developed by nuns and other important figures in their communities, we visited organizations that work towards empowering girls and women, pushing education rather than early marriage…They all show how incredibly strong and hardworking the people are.”

As for what she got out of the trip, she says she now has an ambition to do more. “I came back knowing that the people I met made me a better person, one who will be more thankful, driven, and passionate for the world.”

She has already started working with this new flame of ambition. She’s currently working on a project that will prevent young girls from dropping out of school due to a lack of feminine hygiene products. Many organizations in Africa are already teaching women how to sew reusable sanitary pads, and Danielle is working on bringing this idea to the areas that she visits. She hopes that the project will empower young girls to stay in school and become educated, and that it will also empower women to start businesses.

Danielle leaves us with one piece of advice: keep an open mind. “Because of this, every place we visited and every person we met each stuck with me in a unique way that I won’t ever forget.”

 

Written by Amanda Hellwig ‘19