AKU-VIP Alumni Spotlight: Mira Hennawy​​


Mira was an AKU-VIP intern with the Aga Khan Foundation, Syria working on partnerships and communications.

Q: What kinds of projects were you working on?

A: I worked on developing a suite of 10 programme briefs that outlined the objectives, achievements, scope, and framework of key AKDN humanitarian programmes in Syria to support resource mobilization efforts.

I wrote about projects on emergency food & cash assistance; farm livelihoods; humanitarian enterprise development; education & early childhood development; community engagement; community health; health counseling center; hygiene promotion; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services.

Q: What were some highlights during your internship?

​A: I developed very strong critical analysis skills through learning how to take large chunks of data and strategically interpret, summarize, and present it in a concise and effective way to mobilize efforts in the humanitarian field. This is a key skill to have in international development, as the briefs I helped develop have the capacity to support the design and implementation of humanitarian development programming. 

I was also able to establish a good relationship with my mentor, prove my skill set and work ethic. The unit I worked with was under-resourced and less active in their communications activities before I came on board as an intern, so I managed to contribute through the briefs to ensure that all the good work AKDN agencies in Syria have done are being correctly and impactfully conveyed to generate more grants, funding, and support. I also gained a global professional network and a unique experience as AKF Syria’s first-ever intern.

Q: How has your participation in the AKU-VIP influenced your endeavors going forward?

​A: This programme allowed me to continue growing my experience and skills in my field of International Development even during a global pandemic. Traveling and obtaining this form of experience would not have been possible other than through programmes such as the AKU-VIP. In addition to my work with AKF Syria, I was able to learn a lot about my field through workshops and webinars held and hosted by AKU—such as Rethinking Development: An Impact Based Approach. Such workshops allowed me to better understand how global development issues are largely systemic, and they taught me the various tools I can use to approach such wicked problems in the future.

Q: What are you up to nowadays?

​A: I am currently writing my thesis for my undergraduate degree on girls’ education in northern Ghana, which was inspired by my 10-month co-op placement in Ghana. My internship with AKF Syria led me to a position as an International Development and Research Assistant at Canada World Youth, supporting the implementation of their Women’s Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Initiative.

Q: Any advice for future incoming virtual interns? 

A: Work on projects and assignments that you align with because passion produces success. Always be ready to learn more and willing to improve, listen, and communicate as it will guide you to grow professionally and personally. This virtual internship enables us to continue doing amazing work, be of assistance to placement organizations, and improve our skill sets without demanding much of our time. It is accessible and an excellent program!​