Interview with International Development Practitioner Sachi Shah

Sachi Shah is on a mission to improve environmental sustainability and human health in low-income urban areas in Malawi. In an interview with Global Health Aging, Sachi talks about why she started the Truss Group, the connection to healthy aging, and the top three needs in Malawi. Follow on Twitter @sachish9 and Instagram @trussgroup

Can you tell us about your work?
I run a social enterprise in Blantyre, Malawi that focuses on waste management, and plastic recycling. We create cement substitutes from recycled plastic and focus on high-impact building projects such as disaster-resistant housing and pit latrines.

Why did you start the Truss Group?
Truss is an extension of a project I started with high-school students four years ago in Blantyre. I believe that if spaces are freed of waste, and more sustainable construction is encouraged in urban areas, then human and environmental health will benefit exponentially. I wanted to return to do more than just volunteer work for a couple of months.

How does your work relate to healthy aging?
Mismanaged waste is known to breed diseases and negatively affect both human and environmental health and productivity. While our focus is not primarily older adults, a healthy environment benefits everyone, especially more vulnerable groups such as older adults.

Are there any exciting projects on the rise?
We are aiming to come up with a model for disaster resistant housing before the end of the year. We are also looking at how we can move into exploring other infrastructure that can support better health and environments beyond waste management.

What are the top three needs in Malawi?
Better health infrastructure, decreased corruption, waste management

You were a Global Health Corps fellow. What did it entail?
I did communications, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and health program development for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark in the USA during my fellowship year. Global Health Corps is a wonderful world-wide community of dedicated professionals working to develop better health care for all. It is also a very supportive community invested in peer learning.

What are you most proud of?
I think my ability to be resilient and resourceful. Entrepreneurship requires you to learn this and quickly.

What are your favorite articles on Global Health Aging?

What do you like to do for fun?
Spend time in nature, and with friends, watch movies, read. I’m trying to write more too!

Where can our readers learn more about your work and connect with you?
Connect with me via sshah@trussgroup.org. Our website, www.trussgroup.org, will go live in a week.

Sachi Shah serves as founder/director of Truss Group, a multi-faceted social enterprise that works towards environmental sustainability and human health improvement in low-income urban areas in Malawi. She has worked as a Global Health Corps fellow and Communications and Programs Associate at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark. Previously, Sachi wrote and edited for Global Health Aging and has interned with The Rockefeller Foundation among other organizations. She has a degree concentrated in international development from Sarah Lawrence College, NY. Sachi has pursued research and fieldwork in various subjects including, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), sustainable energy, child development, urban design and policy, environmental policy, and movement building. She serves on the board of Renew’N’Able Malawi (RENAMA), a Malawian non-governmental organization (NGO) for sustainable energy and manages the Blantyre Farmer’s Market. 

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