Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Workshop Business

On Thursday and Friday last week, we hosted a "Good Clinical Practice" workshop for all of the field assistants. Some of the topics covered included: a historical context, research ethics, research approval process, and study-specific information and guidance. Here are some snaps from the training:

Also, the workshop was at this quaint little resort by the Yala River:

Over the weekend, us gals went on a bike bicycle tour with some new friends. We hit up the Kisumu Musuem, the local port, and a real, live African market. ;-)

Yesterday, we went to the lowlands clinic and met with some community health workers. Tomorrow, I'll be piloting my positive deviance interview. Wish me luck!

Asante sana!

"You don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great." On a poster of Rhianna (and a calendar) in the guesthouse the other night. Classic!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Zebra Kicked


My first week in Kenya has been fantastic. Over the weekend, Ashley, Elise & I went to the Impala Sanctuary, where I got kicked by a zebra. I couldn't resist my urge to get as a close as possible to them and try to touch. Lesson learned: zebras kick like donkeys... strong donkeys.

We went out for some dancing on Friday night. I was pleased to hear the smooth jams of West Africa. P-Square is a hit all over the continent! It was nice to get to know some of the people who are also staying in our compound, too.

On Sunday, we headed back to the highlands. We got to witness the field assistants walking around to the different study sites tracking their latitude and longitude coordinates, which will later be imported into a GIS map.

Maurice is the project coordinator and the main guy helping us with our individual projects. Happy to have him as a supervisor!

 We've also been busy preparing our projects and getting settled into our temporary home. I'll be talking to the field assistants, clinic staff, community health workers and some other community leaders to try to identify some of the positive deviants and then hopefully I'll be able to interview some of them. (Refer to the post from June 9 for more information about my project.)

 This picture is of a bednet being used for a chicken coop.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rainy Highlands

Spent last night in a more rural, mountainous area about an hour and half outside of Kisumu. The lush rolling hills and the crispness of the late night rains are enough reason to stay forever. We met with some of the field assistants, who are working with the research study and surveying homes in the highlands area. We'll probably be working with them quite a bit this summer.

Our abode in the highlands.

Friendly neighbor

 Ash and Elise at the EQUATOR. Cool!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This Ain't No Peace Corps.

After two missed connections, lost bags, and awkward plane sleeping, I've arrived safely in Kisumu. I've been traveling with my classmate and friend, Ashley, so it was nice to have a travel buddy. We were welcomed by Elise, an undergraduate student at UA, and our professor and her family. The compound we are staying in is the bomb diggity. The first picture is of our apartment - with wireless internet! The second snap is the pool in our compound and the last picture is Simba, the compound dog. Living large!

I'm still adjusting from sleep deprivation and the time difference, so not much of an update now. Today, we are heading to the study site in the mountains, otherwise known as the highlands. More to come!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Ndiyo, nyuma Afrika!

Hello there old friend! It has been awhile since you’ve visited. I apologize for my absence, but it turns out that graduate school is an all-consuming event leaving me little time and energy to update this blog. But I’m back and ready to tell you about my life happenings.

My first year of graduate school has been a whirlwind. I’ve been challenged in my courses and have pushed myself to self-reflect on my interests and passion as I continue to navigate my life path. Some highlights from the past year have been:

1. Living and loving Tucson, a place full of character and characters
2. Ringing in another new year with family and friends back home
3. Visitors! My brothers and high schools friends were feeling the west coast vibes
4. Acclimating to desert life and taking advantage of my geography to learn more about the US/Mexico border
5. Being a part of a team of students who traveled to the Mexico/Guatemala border to learn about migration in Latin America
6. Discussing and writing, with an academic lens, about some of my experiences in Sierra Leone and relating them to my coursework
7. Bouncing over to Chicago to dance with my Peace Corps padi dem

Now that you’ve been officially updated, I want to share my (new) news with you – I’m escaping the unforgiving Arizonan summer to venture to Kisumu, Kenya for my Master of Public Health Internship. 

Yes, back to Africa (as this blog titles informed you)! Back to the warmth and comfort of the African sun – to a place I still call home. I feel fortunate that my path has brought me to East Africa again, but this time is different than the first. Once a wide-eyed and na├»ve girl, I have now grown into the woman who I will be for the rest of my life. I’ve gained confidence and self-awareness and am ready to continue to learn and grow through this new experience.

The last couple of days I have been reflecting on how this trip to Kenya will affect me emotionally. Will the guilt that I felt leaving Sierra Leone resurface? Will I meet Kenyans and see the faces of my friends and be reminded of my homesickness for Sweet Salone? Am I even ready to open my heart and my mind to embrace a new land?

Welp! I’m on the plane on the way to Nairobi, so we’ll find out the answers to those questions sooner than you think. Stay tuned!

You may be wondering about this internship business. In November of last year, one of my professors sent out an email to our school announcing an internship funded by her current research study with malaria in Kenya. I jumped at the opportunity to go back to Africa and to work with malaria again. I feel so privileged to have been awarded this position and am eager to work towards achieving my professional goals.

(Wow, I sound like I’m writing for a school application. Sorry-o! I’ll add in the spunk you all love when I’m blogging about my Kenyan tales.)

The project that my professor is working on involves the effects of climate change on mosquito populations in a mountainous setting and how malaria is becoming an emerging infectious disease in the area. Sounds pretty cool, right? I will be working on one aspect of the project that I’ve had sparks of interest in since Sierra Leone. The title of my project is “Using the Positive Deviance Model to Identify Community-Based Malaria Control Strategies in Western Kenya.” Positive Deviance (PD) explores the notion that in communities where there is a prevalent issue, may it be obesity, female genital mutilation, malnutrition, or what have you, there are individuals and families in that community, who despite similar obstacles as their neighbors, are able to overcome that particular problem. I will specifically be observing families who use bednets and other malaria-preventative strategies and try to better understand why these people chose to do so and what are the underlying forces that help sustain the health of their family. My exploration will be channeled through observing, interviewing and digital storytelling. I’m ecstatic about this opportunity to wear the hat of a researcher!

Well, my friends, I’m off again, but I only leave so that I can come back again. J Wish me luck! Please keep me in your positive thoughts and prayers. Can’t wait for all things Africa. Keep you posted.


p.s. I haven’t forgotten about my niche. Here you go…“Communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women.” — Michelle Obama