Project Concern International Stays Close To Home

On the 50th anniversary of its creation, Project Concern International, a not-for-profit organization, can claim to have achieved tangible and life changing results for millions around the globe by providing clean water, health and nutrition education, combat disease - including HIV among the many services.

The founder, Jim Turpin is a doctor who lived and worked in Coronado in 1961 when he volunteered at a Tijuana clinic. During that trip, he helped save the lives of two children dying of pneumonia. His work in Tijuana inspired him to create PCI to help those in need of health services.

With time PCI has expanded its role and is now helping millions in 16 countries around the world. Funded through grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates and Starbucks foundations, support from the U.S. government and private donations; PCI does its work through field offices in each country with local directors who live in the area and are more in touch with the people and issues. PCI has a $40 million budget and 500 employees. Its headquarters are in San Diego, something unusual for this type of organization. “[Dr. Turpin] is the reason we’re in San Diego. We are considered an NGO (Non Governmental Organization), anything of our size and scope is in Washington D.C.,” explained Annette Gregg, PCI’s senior director of marketing and communication. PCI also has an office in Washington D.C.

Although Turpin now lives in North Carolina, he is still involved in PCI and is the organization’s cultural leader. “Jim [Turpin] led with health outreach but [PCI] has grown into a holistic and integrated program including violence against women, human trafficking and global poverty. It’s not a simple issue, it’s not just about water,” said Gregg.

PCI’s Coronado legacy continues with a third generation Coronadan, Amy Hansen, the new business development officer. “I do a lot of resource mobilization, bring funding programs [where needed], fund projects worldwide, sometimes focus on specific countries,” she explained. Hansen first started with PCI as an intern before entering graduate school. “I went to Bolivia and helped with the documentation of the achievement of our programs,” she said. In the five years she has worked at PCI she has travelled to South Africa, Zambia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico. “She is our top development officer. With what she has been exposed to, our Coronado legacy continues first with Jim, then with Amy,” explained Gregg.

Hansen is not traveling so much these days but she is always in touch with people in field. “I get to interact with our 16 countries. Although I’m not based overseas I interact via Skype on a regular basis and I keep in touch with what’s going on on the ground. I read about what’s going on in the field and see the results. I’m happy to go to work,” she said. Hansen loves the many aspects of her work, but a program close to her heart is the women empowered program currently going on in Ethiopia.

“Women come together and pool resources, do things like buying in bulk, sell (the product) make a profit and engage in entrepreneurial activities. The results are not only economic but social, it’s mind blowing. Before they may have been afraid to speak out...” she said. “This program is rolling out universally ... our goal is to enroll 100,000 women in over three years,” said Gregg. “We’re passing on a new way of thinking to the children observing that and that’s the reason we’re so excited.”

PCI has also started working in the United States. The women empowered program is being launched in National City where there is a large presence of Ethiopian, Filipino, Mexican immigrants who need entrepreneurial skills like keeping logbooks and accounting. PCI also doesn’t stray from its original goal of health related issues. Working with 70 agencies, PCI is providing access to health care for women and children in National City. According to PCI’s U.S.& Border Programs, PCI will “provide pregnant women with home visitation, case management and support to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery ... ongoing care for up to two years.

In addition to the assistance of a doula ‘birth coach,’ women also receive assessments and support for postpartum depression and domestic violence; personalized health planning for improved nutrition and well-being; life skills training; and preconception education and guidance.” Another close to home project was the fourth annual Santa party and health fair on December 12. PCI volunteers with PCI and Black Infant Health held this event at the Jacobs Market Creek Plaza in San Diego. Toys collected by Diegueno Country School in Rancho Santa Fe were distributed to more than 160 children. The fair featured dental screenings, healthy nutrition and mobile health care services.

 On April 28, 2013 PCI will hold Walk for Water in Mission Bay where participants are encouraged to carry a bucket of water to simulate the long walk people in developing countries need to endure to carry water to their home.

To find out more about PCI go to

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