The program was very structured and I felt within three weeks we did far more then I was expecting. We covered the public and private health sectors of Kenya along with the village and the city. All four areas have a huge difference within the country. It was essential that we covered all four of those areas in order to really understand the public health care in Kenya. Even though I only have a base to my knowledge about Kenya and public health care I now have an understanding about where I can explore further in the subject, and what areas I take the most interest in. Even though I am not planning on being a medical student, this experience has opened my mind to other occupations I can do to make a difference that still are associated with public health.One of the coolest places we visited was Kibera. While we were there we talked with two mothers about the challenges they face raising their children as they struggle financially everyday. They were both smiling women and pleasant to talk to. We had a translator with us too although they both spoke English well. One mother talked to us outside her home because the baby was not yet old enough to be exposed to other people yet (that is a cultural practice), and the other mother welcomed us into hers and we were able to hold her twins! The second woman had another child, but it died at 10 months very quickly within a week of sickness. Her current twins were so cute though. Her living space was smaller than my room, and she pays 600 shillings a month to stay in her home. (That is about 6 dollars.) We gave each woman a bag of food in which she was very thankful for! Without the clinic on the edge of the neighborhood that takes care of part of the population in Kibera, her babies would not be the healthy babies they are! The need for aid and adequate and affordable health systems in and near the slums is huge! I learned this was similar to the very rural areas where transportation was difficult.I now understand the opportunity in this world that is not always in your face in the United States. I know where the United States struggles and what needs to be improved upon, but in Kenya you can see it every day where the change needs to happen. Just within Malaria and HIV alone, so many people’s lives are changed in a negative way. If there were more people who could see this part of the world, then more people could be inspired to help make a change no matter where it is. This trip has really forced me to focus on what I want to do with my life, and where I want to take my academics. In addition it made me so grateful for the opportunities I have. When you are constantly surrounded with people who are on the same playing field as you, you forget the big picture of life and what goes beyond your little bubble. I finally have the capability to take a step back and think about how I want to impact this world that needs so much attention.My name is Halley Choy
and I am a going to be a junior at St. Lawrence in the Fall. I am majoring in Environmental Studies and Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Before coming to Kenya, I knew very little about their culture, people, and healthcare system. I had expectations to visit some of the hospitals and clinics around Kenya and learn about the struggles and the kinds of diseases people face in the healthcare system here in Kenya. I hoped to learn about the culture, and some Swahili along the way. I had hoped to travel to the Mara to see some of the amazing wildlife. I had read about the Adamson family’s life in Elsamere and some of the towns and cities that we were going to be visiting like Eldoret, Kisumu, and Kibera so that I would be more prepared.Despite my readings and expectations of this course and Kenya, this study abroad experience has been much more then I have ever thought it would be. It has been a valuable experience to learn about diseases and then meet and talk to people that are dealing with these illnesses every day. I was able to learn in depth about fistulas and then actually meet women with fistulas at WADADIA. Before coming to Kenya, I had known nothing about female circumcision and fistulas. Learning about the challenges in the healthcare system in Kenya such as obtaining drugs and equipment due to limited expenses and providing free health care to patients has opened my eyes to the many struggles in Kenya and other developing countries.
My classmates and I also met with Sara Ellen and Joe Mamlin about the organization they started called AMPATH in Eldoret, Kenya. AMPATH is a partnership working with the Kenyan government and Indiana University. AMPATH is a great example of how all different branches of health care can come together. One of the Mamlin’s goals has been to work alongside Kenyans in teaching about health care and giving quality health care to the people of Kenya. Working together as a community, AMPATH has been going into difficult to reach rural villages with community clinical workers to treat patients, test for HIV, and educate about the basics of health care and maternity care. With three hundred clinics and such programs as OSCAR, Orphan Street Children At Risk, they are helping people to reach health care from all backgrounds in Western Kenya.
OSCAR is a program for children living on the streets where they can access free health care and testing for HIV. Over tea, we met with some of the street children of Eldoret and discussed the health problems and challenges growing up in the streets poses to them. The street children often have health problems such as skin diseases, jiggers, and injuries due to violence and fighting that goes on in the streets. Many of the boys had been pushed to the streets due to alcoholism or abuse in their families, the death of their parents or the corporate punishment in the many of the schools in the area. Despite these struggles and living on the streets where drugs and violence is common many of the teens that we spoke to want to and plan to get off the streets. They want to go back to school and have a successful job. To learn more about the great work that AMPATH program is doing here is the link to their website
At the Mamlin’s House in Eldoret with Emma Phippen, Wairimu Ndirangu, Haley Choy and Monica Manning
In Eldoret we also visited, TUMAINI an organization that is providing a safe, fun and learning environment for street boys. The boys put on a play for us about how a typical boy could become a street boy. Eventually they will be performing the play to the public to spread awareness about the numerous children living on the streets of Eldoret. Programs like OSCAR and TUMAINI are giving some of these street children hope and education for a better future off the streets.
I had not expected to feel so welcomed by so many people in Kenya. I have met some of the most inspiring people like Sarah Ellen and Joe Mamlin. I liked going to the Masai village and getting the chance to go into the homes like in the Kibera slums to learn about the people’s culture and health issues. I appreciated the hospitality of the people in Kenya very much like the Nightingale family and the AMPATH family. I felt very comfortable in all the places that we stayed and with most of the food that I ate. The welcoming hospitality has made me feel safe about coming here in the future and learning here a lot easier. One of my suggestions for the future would have been visiting a mental health facility or program in Kenya. If possible, this program should be a little longer for the students digested the material. Because of the program’s packed schedule the class should be counted as two units instead of just one and half.I am excited to be going home to tell my family and friends about all the great organizations and people that I have met in Kenya and how they are doing great things to help improve their healthcare system. This experience has helped me to grow, make great friends, to learn about the healthcare system in my own country, in Kenya, and other developing countries. I am happy that I have learned about the culture of Kenya from the different foods like Ugali and Kenyan chai – tea to the Masai people that we visited. It has been a great opportunity to see many different parts of Kenya and the different their health care providers from the teaching hospitals in Nairobi, the clinic in the Mara, and lastly the sustainable AMPATH program in Eldoret.I would recommend this course to students interested in the medical field. The course has also been designed for non- medical students. Actually for the health course summer program this summer we had a global studies, psychology, environmental studies, and sociology majors. I think we all felt very comfortable and interested with the class material throughout the entire course.My name is Emma Phippen
and I just graduated from SLU this last semester with a degree in sociology. I am so thankful to have been able to be a part of this amazing program because of the experiences I had. I could not have asked for a better way to end my St. Lawrence academic career. During this program we knew the trip would be very fast pace considering the itinerary was full of visiting many different health clinics, hospitals, and life improvement homes. The three of us had never been to Kenya, but we were willing to have open minds and learn about the different cultures that make up the country.The relationships that we established with our trip leaders and many people we met throughout the three weeks helped us acclimate to the new surroundings and established a comfortable environment for learning.
This program opened our eyes to the medical world and the aspect of social health care, a topic in which none of us ever took a particular interest in. Since being here and visiting the many different hospitals, clinics, and organizations our eyes were opened to the many different components that make up the Kenyan health care system and how it works. We were also very surprised by all of the other activities we did while on this trip like a sunrise safari in the Mara, visiting a Masai boma, going on a boat safari, and all of the shopping we did during our free time! The balance between work and play was perfect and kept us all on our toes the entire time. We were never disappointed by any of the days, and were excited every morning to learn and meet new people!
Emma Phippen with the Mara Talek community
Since this program was so hands on we believe that we were able to learn to our highest potential. This program helped us explore a way of learning that every student should experience because being thrown into a new setting filled with amazing opportunities, and people helps a student explore outside of their comfort zones. That can really test students’ abilities to learn and grow as an individual!
Students who want to experience learning in a way that is structured very differently than a classroom setting would love this program because of the field work and hands on experiences. Also students who are interested in entering into any sector of health would love this program and really connect to the topic! We met an alumni of the program, she did not go to St. Lawrence, but was a part of the Kenya semester program. She explained to us how the semester introduced her to Ampath, the program she works for. Students can be exposed to opportunity to connect with doctors and health professionals and may find inspiration for their future endeavors, or careers.