the countdown

16 05 2010

5 vaccinations,

4 trips to Wal-Mart,

3 bank visits before a successful wire transfer,

2 packed suitcases (kind of),

1 day to takeoff.

Hallo! Thanks for joining me this summer as I go to Kunya Village, located in the Nyanza Province near Lake Victoria in Kenya. Some brief information about me: my name is Alice Zhang and I’m a rising junior at Duke University majoring in Biology and with a certificate in Global Health. My project this summer will be an epidemiological survey on water-borne diseases in Kunya Village. Kunya Village, despite being located on the shores of Lake Victoria, suffers from a lack of clean water. As a result, many of the villagers have water-borne diseases, such as diarrhea and schistosomiasis. My goals this summer will be to identify the presence of water-borne diseases, connect the water-borne diseases to water sources used, and identify risk factors. I will be working with an organization there, Mama na Dada, who has implemented a variety of projects to serve Kunya Village, including a water project.

Many people have asked me, “Why Kenya?” When I heard about Mama na Dada and the projects that they have implemented in Kunya Village, an agricultural and fishing village with a 40 percent HIV/AIDS rate, I was amazed by the dedication and the success of their projects, ranging from a day care center for AIDS orphans to a micro-credit program. I’m honored to help this organization further the development of Kunya Village and to promote the health of its villagers.

And after months of e-mail correspondence with Mama na Dada and planning out logistical details, I can’t believe that I’ll be actually arriving in two days. I have some idea of what to expect, but for the most part I am looking forward to seeing in person what Kunya Village actually looks like and meeting everyone in person. I hope that in two months time, I’ll come back with a rewarding experience and a head full of new ideas and thoughts. I am excited for the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone – I have never been to a country where I am so out of my element – and to finally apply what I’ve been learning in the classroom into “real life.”

But for now, my suitcase awaits me. Ta!

-Alice Zhang.

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