Dr. Eleanor Ann Nwadinobi is the Regional Representative of Sub-Saharan Africa for the DPI/NGO Executive Committee. Currently, Dr. Nwadinobi works with widows in rural Nigeria. Her parent NGO is the “Medical Women’s International Association,” an organization formed in 1919, which takes pride in being the oldest women’s medical association in the world. Dr. Nwadinobi has been serving for three and a half years as the liaison between the executive committee and the DPI NGOs in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a regional representative her favorite moments have been sharing and hearing the stories of other NGOs at the annual conferences. She loves what she calls the “camaraderie and the energy” of all the groups coming together from all over the world.
Dr. Nwadinobi emphasizes the importance of really listening to rural women’s needs when it comes to developing programs. She shared a story about an NGO that drilled a well in a rural African community, believing it would fulfill a need for the women because they would no longer have to travel to obtain water. When the workers came back a year later, they found the well unused and not maintained. When they asked the community why the well had not been used, the women said that traveling to fetch water was the only time they had to themselves. It gave them two hours in the day to laugh, cry, share stories and interact with other women in the community. When the well was drilled, they lost this precious time. Dr. Nwadinobi points to this story as important advice for the NGO community: people’s needs must be at the forefront of any development program.