Heading to Kenya!

17 05 2012

I’m currently sitting in the St. Louis airport getting ready to board the first of many flights that will eventually take me to Kenya. I was nervous yesterday, but this morning I feel a strong sense of calm. I do not know what may come my way, but I feel ready to at least try to face whatever it may be with gracious humor. After all, I’m going back to a second home.

I will be spending the next nine weeks with Sarah and Saira in Kunya, Kenya working with the NGO Mama na Dada (“mother and sister”) through DGHI’s Student Research Training Program. Kunya is a small village on the southern side of Lake Victoria near the western border of Kenya. Fishing and farming represent the biggest industries within the village. It is about two hours away from Kisumu, Kenya’s third biggest city. Mama na Dada works with health, education, women’s empowerment, and community development. I’m excited to try to contribute to their great work.

I guess I should not only introduce Kunya, but myself as well. I’m Kelly Schuering, a rising junior studying public policy and global health. I aspire to become a doctor one day and work in underserved populations around the world. I spent last summer in Kakamega, Kenya working at a children’s home through DukeEngage. I had such an incredible experience and fell in love with Kenya’s culture, its natural beauty, and most of all, the people who I met. I absolutely cannot wait to go back and see what Kenya holds for me this summer!
While in Kunya, we will be carrying out global health research in order to inform Mama na Dada’s programs and projects. Our research consists of three projects. The first will involve assessing nutritional status and cognitive development in primary and secondary school students to investigate the development of physical signs of undernutrition and their change with growth into adolescence. This project will help inform and evaluate the nutritional program of Mama na Dada and will build on the work of the students who have worked in Kunya the previous two summers. We also aim to develop and pilot culturally valid and appropriate assessments of cognitive development, for which we will interview mothers, teachers, and health workers on cognitive developmental milestones. Our second project seeks to identify the factors that influence pregnant women’s decisions on going to the clinic to give birth. This information may help to increase the utilization and accessibility of clinic resources during birth. Our last project investigates water usage, practices, and changes since the construction of the bore well in 2010, with the eventual intention of determining potential improvements to water-related health outcomes. We have worked hard to develop these projects, although I’m sure they’ll develop just as much, if not more, once we’re on the ground. It will be great to finally get some of our research questions answered!

Gotta go! Boarding is about to start. I’ll be sure to keep you updated once we arrive!





One response

17 05 2012

Happy and safe travels Sarah, Kelly and Saira! Look forward to hearing more soon.

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