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A life-changing experience

For 38 hours – a 14-hour flight plus 24 hours prior to my first day – I felt excited but also anxious, both feelings accentuated by the effect of jetlag. But five minutes into Day One, I came across two children collecting water from a contaminated water source. They were so happy to greet me, smiling and giving me a thumbs up. It was as if they were two angels sent with a message of welcome and thanks for accepting the challenge to help provide clean water even though it meant being away from my family and the comforts of my everyday life. Irfan Tarajia, RTC Fellow assigned to the Safe Water Network in India

From developing new therapies that treat and prevent disease to helping people in need, Merck is committed to improving health and well-being around the world.  The Merck Fellowship for Global Health is one way Merck is helping answer the global health needs of the underserved. Merck employees who participate in the program are called Richard T. Clark Fellows (RTC Fellows) in honor of retired Chairman and CEO Richard T. Clark and his philosophy of "passion, purpose and commitment to corporate responsibility."

Launched in 2012, the program offers Merck employees opportunities to share their skills with people around the world. As many as 30 Fellows are selected each year; the expertise of the applicants is matched to the needs of the partner organizations. During the three-month assignments, the Fellows are embedded within a non-profit organization in the field.

“The Fellowship program represents what is possible in private-public partnerships for global health,” said Karl Hofmann, president & CEO, PSI.

Marcie Cook, deputy regional director, PSI, commented, “Each Fellow walks away with something he or she never expected and becomes a richer person for the experience.”

During this experience, I've thought daily about my incredibly good fortune in life … where we have access to education, gainful employment, high-quality health care, and personal freedoms – not to mention potable water, paved roads, and other infrastructure I usually take for granted. Observing how much daily activity in a place like Kibera is dedicated to basic survival – food, water, fuel – really brought it home. Julia Shoff, RTC Fellow assigned to PSI in Washington, D.C. and Africa

RTC Fellows visiting the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi, India

Safe Water Network team at the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, India

RTC Fellow presentation

Safe Water Network launch in India

RTC Fellows in India

RTC Fellows with CEDPA team in Patna, India

In the Bhojpur district of Bihar, India, girls in a vocational and life skills
class make dress patterns as one option for earning a living.

RTC Fellows celebrate Diwali ("festival of lights") in India

RTC Fellow receives a bindi (forehead dot)

Daily life in India

RTC Fellow and PSI colleagues in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

RTC Fellows with PSI team in Africa

RTC Fellows and CEDPA team

The RTC Fellows worked with several humanitarian organizations in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh in Asia; and, Kenya and Tanzania in Africa, each with its own goals and challenges.

The Fellowship is indeed an experience of continuous learning which gets one out of one's comfort zone professionally, environmentally and emotionally. Nand Kumar, RTC Fellow assigned to icddr,b in Bangladesh

“Working with humanitarian organizations around the world in this way allows us to have a truly unique effect on people’s lives and better understand the future of healthcare,” said Mr. Clark.

While the program works to improve health literacy, increase access to health services and products, enhance access to health education and improve health outcomes, it also provides unique career development opportunities that help expand employees’ understanding of critical needs in different parts of the world.



RTC Fellows in the Field

Learn more about the Fellowship program