We’re on the last week of our trip, and these eight weeks have flown by fast! Our summer trip is winding down, and we’re wrapping up our plans as we prepare to leave in one week, but it feels like we should stay a few more. The app mSaada is really coming together (go Thao!), and we’ve learned SO much on the daily challenges of global health projects. Currently we’re wrapping the Standard Operating Procedure, FAQs, and training manuals for Community Health Volunteers (CHVs), research assistants, and other members of the team. There are still many logistical challenges to work though like how to mobilize over 400 CHVs to the different communities that they serve, and how to register each CHV and their clients. We’re here only over the summer, but the team here in Kisumu does so much work for mSaada, and I’ll miss them when we leave. The best part about being in the office is being able to pop into each other’s rooms to make a joke or ask a question, and that’ll be harder to do over zoom. I’ll still be in Kenya until the end of the summer, so hopefully I can contribute wherever I can to help move along the training of CHVs and the rest of mSaada.


Overall, it’s just exciting to see a global health project progress right from the beginning. Usually, in my experience as a student, I am exposed to finished products—projects that are long past the development phase—and this is a rare opportunity to learn about just how much work is put into global health ventures. In the future, I would want to know what multi-pronged solutions look like, especially in the field of cervical cancer/HPV treatment and prevention. For example, Isabel, Sydney, and I are in the beginning stages of starting a childcare program at Lumumba for women with HPV/cervical cancer and antenatal care appointments. It would be great to see the impact of projects that combine home visits/self-screening with software like mSaada, childcare programs, anti-stigma training, and any other methods.


In addition to the people that we met in Lumumba and through this mSaada project, I met a woman named Rosemary while visiting Dunga Hill Camp (a must-visit restaurant that’s right next to a lake and has great live music). She runs a nursery school called Garden of Hope, which provides primary-level education for vulnerable children (usually 3-9 years old) who are not yet enrolled in primary school or who have dropped out of primary school. Many of the children are orphaned or come from families that don’t have resources to provide for them, so she also runs feeding programs and provides medical care for them. Rosemary also sells handmade purses, wallets, blankets, clothing, and jewelry at Dunga Hill, and all of the proceeds go to the nursery school. She started in 2013 and used to educate and feed children out of her home in Nykach until someone donated a building for her which helped her program grow. Then, she started another nursery school in Kisumu with the hope of helping more vulnerable children stay in school and get the care they need.


Usually, when people hear Rosemary’s story, they want to support her program however they can. A farmer donated 40 crates of eggs to Garden of Hope, so they’re running a feeding program this coming Saturday for all of the children in the community, and we’re planning to go and help cook. One of the owners from Dunga Hill heard about Rosemary’s school, and he gave her free space to sell goods that help run Garden of Hope. A woman named Bridget and her son Lawrence donated their old home to the nursery school in Kisumu. I got to talk to them on our visit to the school, and they still want to support the program, so they are offering space in their current home for any teachers/caretakers who work in Garden of Hope. For medical care, Rosemary met Dr. Victoria, the clinical care coordinator from the Railways Hospital (I actually visited this hospital and met Dr. Victoria when doing site visits for mSaada with Breandan and Jennifer), and Dr. Victoria wanted to do whatever she could do to help. Rosemary told me Dr. Victoria said, “Rosemary, just bring the children. We’ll take care of them.”


Like Dr. Victoria, Lawrence, Bridget, and so many others who have worked with Rosemary over the years, I hope to do what I can and give whatever I can. I’m definitely visiting Garden of Hope when back in Kisumu, and I want to support them over the school year. For all future SRT students, I recommend going to Garden of Hope to say hi to the students, Rosemary, Lawrence and Bridget! We loved visiting them, and I’m sure you will too. Also, if you want to learn more about the program or support them, here is a link to their Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/people/Garden-of-HOPE/100069232920765/


Small updates:

We took a boat tour of lake Victoria in Seme and had a picnic on a small island. It was so beautiful and idyllic, and I recommend it to future SRT students.


We met a school dance team from a Maasai village that we’ve been keeping in contact with, and they just got to nationals!


We met a family in the Impala sanctuary that runs a CHV-based nonprofit in Kenya, and they have been a great contact for us.


The CCC (Clinical Care Coordinator) at Lumumba Hospital invited us for a family dinner, and we had great homecooked food!


A dance group called Dancing Feet performed at Dunga Hill, and Sydney got their contacts to set up a workshop with them with dance groups at Duke. They’re also posting a live recording of their performance on the 22nd!

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