Friday, May 16, 2014

UNM Nursing Students to Spend Two Weeks at a Health Clinic in Rural Western Kenya

Photo: Project Helping Hands
The village of  Oyugis is about 328 kilometers (about 200 miles) west of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and just a few kilometers east of  Lake Victoria. See map. This is where eight students from the University of New Mexico College of Nursing will be spending two weeks in October.

The primary focus for this team is to provide general health care and health education services. "During our two weeks in Kenya we will be staffing a health clinic started by a group  of women, the Wa Wa Ti, who initiated the clinic because of the deaths of their husbands and children due to HIV/AIDS," said  Judith Harris, assistant professor at the UNM School of Nursing."

The trip is sponsored by Project Helping Hands, a non-profit organization that sends teams of volunteers to provide medical care and health education for people in nine developing nations. Teams support clinics and other health facilities in Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Sudan, Bolivia, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Philippines.

"While Kenya has a comprehensive social insurance plan, it covers less than half of the working population. Diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dysentery, and tuberculosis are very common," Project Helping Hands said in a country profile.

Clinical Experience
Project Helping Hands has been sending teams to Oyugis for several years,and students from UNM health sciences programs have been among those who helped at the clinic for the two-week period. "I went to Kenya for the first time in 2010 and thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for students to have a clinical experience there," Harris said in an interview for the UNM Health Sciences newsletter. "It's important for students to see what other countries have available in terms of health care systems and the clinical experience they gain is vital."

Each day,  the clinic assists 300 to 400 patients of all ages.  "I was shocked with how many people we saw at the clinic, but the children stood out the most for me," said Antoinette Russell, who participated in an earlier delegation. "So many of them were without parents or any adults. They would walk with us to and from the clinic. Then, all of a sudden, they would say ‘goodbye’ and take off running somewhere else." Read more in "Take My Hand"

Bake sale in front of UNM Student Union Building, May 13
Raising Funds
 The cost of the trip per student is $3,700, which means that participants have to particpate in fundrasing activities over the next few weeks and months. "We are currently having bake sales, raffle sales, and other fundraising activities to cover the cost of the worthwhile endeavor," said Harris.

If you would like to help provide financial assistance for the students, please drop a note to Judith Harris,
There is an option on the Project Helping Hands site to donate on behalf of a particular student.  Harris will provide you with a list of the eight students.  (Two students have set up Web sites to raise funds Yeshemabet Turner and Matt Grindstaff)

The expenses related to the trip are not the only contribution required of team members.  They are also expected to gather and bring a  minimum of 50 pounds of medicines/medical supplies (or  take the "supply buy out option").

Spending time at the clinic is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, but participants will also have an opportunity to broaden their cultural horizons. The trip includes a visit to the Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve.

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