Raphi Frankfurter takes on new role as executive director of Wellbody Alliance
David Wilson, media lab intern, Emerson College
Frankfurter, a 22-year-old Princeton University graduate, was named the executive director of Wellbody Alliance in June.
Frankfurter, who graduated in May, said his journey started while studying at Princeton. “They have a very generous international research internship program for undergraduates, which I really credit for getting me into this field,” he said.
Frankfurter has been involved with Wellbody Alliance for four years, starting as a summer research intern. He said he got hooked immediately, and found himself going to Sierra Leone every summer.
“We work in the most war-torn, neglected part of Sierra Leone,” Frankfurter said. “Our mission is to provide health care as a human right to the poor.”
Currently, Frankfurter is the only full-time employee in the United States at Wellbody Alliance, and is assisted by two part-time employees, and a handful of volunteers and interns. He described his leap into the Executive Director position as “a natural extension of the work.”
Frankfurter said he was interested in global health and doing a job of service, but he wasn’t expecting to secure a leadership position so early on. “I guess it would be a dream five years ago, but not a realistic dream,” he said.
“My true passion, and where I belong the most, is on the ground at Sierra Leone,” Frankfurter said. “I really love living in a community, learning the language, really getting a sense of the problems— and thinking of creative solutions to address them.”
Frankfurter said that in many instances, Wellbody Alliance gives out completely free care. He said that they go to great lengths to ensure that patients are seen all the way through, until they’re better.
“In Sierra Leone, and I think around the world, there are very few other organizations that take that stance,” Frankfurter said. “So to be surrounded by people that believe in that, that have the capacity to make that moral stance concrete, is really fulfilling.”
Frankfurter wants to see Wellbody Alliance become a fully functioning community hospital. And for now, he’s focusing on reproductive health services, cervical cancer services, and a delivery center, where women can recover safely after childbirth.