NFGL Local Network Umeå: Aiming for a better tomorrow

Having been born and raised in the tropical weather of Bangladesh, moving to Umeå in Sweden's far north was a challenge for Dr. Moyukh Chowdhary. But his struggle with the darkness and cold weather was soon melted away by the warmth of campus life.

NFGL Local Network Umeå: Aiming for a better tomorrow
Photo: NFGL Local Network Umeå

During my clinical career as a medical doctor in China and Bangladesh, I realised how important it is to strengthen the health system and public health research work to facilitate a healthy world.

The generous scholarship from the Swedish Institute not only gave me an opportunity to pursue quality education in public health science but also to improve my organisational skills while addressing social responsibilities.

Besides studying, I have been serving as the Chairperson of the SI Network for Future Global Leaders Local Network Umeå and Advisory Board Coordinator at Swedish Network for International Health (SNIH).  

My belief is that scientific research or business development is never complete until it contributes to the society, and SI NFGL gives a platform to the scholars to address global issues from different perspectives.

Since 2014, SI NFGL Umeå has been actively involved in strengthening leadership, innovation, human rights, skill development and knowledge transfer. We have arranged three events this academic year so far.

Our first event was “The Red Cross Venture”, organised by Olivi Silalahi and Sarah Hamza.

Talking about the event, Olivi said: “Learning Swedish values through the local organisation, such as Röda Korset I Umeå, has given me a deeper understanding of its commitment to global humanitarian issues. Here, we have the advantage of not only improving our knowledge and organisational skills, but also extending our networking.”

Our second event was ''A guide to your first freelance job''.

The speaker for the event was Ahmed Eleyan, a skilled freelancer studying Human-Computer Interaction and Social Media at Umeå University and most importantly, one of our current board members! Ahmed gave an insight into the initial skills needed to get started working online independently and to develop a freelancing career. More than 35 participants attended the event.

Following on from our events on gender issues in previous years, last month, we arranged our third event of the year “Let’s Get Better Together: LGBT Rights in Healthcare and Society”.

Ida Linander and Rachel Mcdonald were the speakers at the event. Ida is an M.D. working with transgender people’s experiences of health and healthcare and Rachel is a LGBTQ+ activist.

They talked about LGBT rights in Swedish contexts: the achievements, research findings and ongoing initiatives. The event included an interesting panel discussion moderated by Fahria Kabir where participants shared their ideas and experiences. Sarata Sowe, the vice-chair and Nora Arifi, our treasurer, coordinated the event.

Moreover, all of our PR and communications are being taken care of by Quang Bui and his creative ideas!  

Our network is built on mutual respect and a spirit of teamwork where we make decisions in a democratic way and distribute our duties accordingly.

In the coming days, we are planning to organise an event at the UN city on the Sustainable Development Goals and another seminar on research funding and social entrepreneurship.

SI NFGL gave us all the opportunity to experience the charm of multicultural society. In the words of our colleague Lilit Harutyunyan, “What is the SI scholarship for you? A prize, a gift, an award…? For me, the SI scholarship is an empowering privilege and an incredible opportunity to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience here in Sweden to share your ideas with talented and passionate people from different parts of the world, the future global leaders and make your little contribution”.

If this practice of collaboration and mutual respect we have in SI NFGL networks could be reflected in every sector across the globe, we can certainly hope for a better tomorrow —  a world beyond borders, religion and race.





Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.