Nathalie C. Abejero

This site remains, as was my previous blog, a photo essay and musings on my work, life and travels– a personal website to make updates available to friends and family. A blogging plan might someday be a good idea, but for now it’s just a place to park strings of dissociated ramblings.

I’m American by nationality, Filipino by ethnicity, and Ibanag by dialect. Tagalog is my first tongue, though I was taught English as a first language. My parents each have their secret languages and my brother figured them out, but he didn’t share.

I’m not the braggable offspring Filipino parents wish for– “uh, no, she’s not a doctor, she works in uh [inaudible] CambodiaIdontreallyknowwhatshedoes”– but I hope I haven’t disappointed them too much. I love being in this part of the world, and I’m daily reminded how far they’ve come and how much change they’ve seen.

Like a typical Water Ox Rising Sagittarius, I got antsy after grad school and debated getting out of the US for a while. 62 million voters sealed that resolve in ’04 and I moved to the other side of the planet where I’ve been working in foreign aid since.

Myers Briggs tells me I’m an ISTJ (11.6% of the population!): unflappable, pragmatic, introspective :-) and abrasive, critical, unsentimental, reserved :-( So if I come across as rude, really I’m just being candid. But could also be I’m plain not keen on something and not good at hiding it…

I miss the usual things from home– sidewalks, nutrition info on processed food, regulated particulate matter levels. I don’t like cucumbers, I think potatoes are an inferior form of carbohydrates, and I can’t help but become extremely unimpressed when I see big gems on others.

I love the politics and tectonic lurches of today’s geo-economic landscape. With Asia rising as our besieged planet emerges from this downturn, where better to be than burning some serious CFCs in Southeast Asia? There’s a sizzle in our ozone-depleted air.

This is probably one of the more thought-out posts here LOL, but that’s the gist of who’s behind this site. Since you’re here, have a look around. And thanks for stopping by…   [9 Sept 2009]

Update 2 Nov 2018: I’m a public health professional who is now based in NYC after over eleven years in Southeast Asia. My background is in Quality Improvement (QI) and project management, fostering cross-collaborative opportunities to strengthen health systems and equitable access to quality services.

Opening bell at the Nasdaq for World AIDS Day 2017

When I first arrived in Cambodia it was still on the rebound from decades of conflict, building up a health corps and infrastructure with significant foreign assistance. It struggled with metrics like an MMR of 430 in 2003. I worked on teams that collaborated with partners and the Ministry of Health in establishing a culture of quality. The projects supported Cambodia’s national initiatives – specifically the national push for universal health care and building the capacity of the health system. My last major project there entailed working with the Quality Assurance Office of the Ministry of Health to design a system for measuring Quality of Care in public hospitals and health centers. I blogged about it here.

Home is where family is, and we brought the kids back to NYC in late 2015  so we can spend time with my aging Lola. Industries across the US were affected by massive changes in the health sector as the Affordable Care Act shifted the focus of health care to include broader factors that impact health outcomes. I worked with NYC’s municipal hospital system, which is transitioning from hospital-based disease-oriented care to primary care and community-based preventive approaches.

Both systems – despite vastly different resources and health care priorities – are aiming to make basic, essential primary care the cornerstone of their health systems.

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Field work with USAID

Lola passed away recently after a journey with dementia. After 13+ years of working at the systems level and in environments undergoing reform, navigating care from the patient’s perspective for the very first time was an eye-opening experience.

It’s an exciting time to be in this field. I’m interested in organizations with a focus on underserved communities/vulnerable populations. I like projects that take a systems approach to translating policy to action, and fostering cross-sector engagement to inform the policy sphere. I want to build on my background in QI to measure progress and use data to inform systems and community strengthening.

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Meanwhile on a personal level, I like to travel with my family. Two summers ago we took a tour of Southeast Asia with two preschoolers in tow. I park select thoughts on this blog, mostly to keep family and friends in the loop. I also post things I find interesting in global health and development, politics and parenting, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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I like to support efforts that raise diversity awareness, and getting involved in political action – particularly on issues affecting minorities, immigrants, disadvantaged and underserved populations. We were even extended an invitation by Obama to the White House after the 2008 elections because we blew the records for voter registration worldwide, beating even the mega-expat hubs of Germany and the UK!


Currently I’m assisting a small project that gives scholarships to girls in rural Cambodia; it was begun and maintained by my old Khmer language tutor, Madame Soun Neang. It was her life’s mission to ensure that young girls in her home province of Kampong Thom, Cambodia, finish their education. But she’s growing old and suffering chronic illnesses, so she requested help from friends, to ensure that this latest group of girls finish their university education. Fees from her continued Khmer language tutoring go towards the associated costs of these girls’ education (eg covering the family’s lost income by the girls attending school instead of working). Donations from friends and colleagues in both Cambodia and the US augment her meager tutoring salary.

Please visit their website for stories about the girls and their families, and updates on the issue of girls’ education globally. Below is a description of their group, Proteep (ប្រទីប):

“Proteep” (ប្រទីប) means light. In Cambodia, many girls are denied an education because families are too poor and choose to send their son to school instead. Yet when a girl goes to school, the cycle of poverty can be broken and the benefits can last for generations. As Mme. Soun Neang says, “I see the difference between my own life and my older sister who never went to school.”

Drawing her inspiration from her own story, in 2004, Mme. Suon Neang decided she wanted to make a difference and began to provide scholarships to girls from poor families who would not otherwise have gone to school or been able to complete their education. She selected four girls who were good students and had completed third grade. These girls have since completed their university education.