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6/28/2011 - "Travel to Kenya with Mashavu Team" by Chanda Turner, Ph.D.

Travel to Kenya with Mashavu Team

by Chanda Turner, Ph.D.

Chanda Turner received an ARC research grant in Spring 2009 for her project entitled "International Technology Transfer of Mashavu Telemedicine".

Traveling to Nyeri Kenya with the Mashavu team from Penn State University was my great academic adventure of Summer 2009. Before arriving in Nairobi, Kenya, I made a stop in Amsterdam, spending the entire day exploring that beautiful city all by myself giving me a sense of freedom unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. While in Amsterdam, although extremely tired from a sleepless overnight flight I visited the Van Gogh museum and walked great distances throughout the city.

Upon arrival in Nairobi, Khanjan Mehta and I, along with a team from the Children’s Youth Empowerment Center (CYEC) traveled by van to Nyeri, a mid-sized city located two hours north of Nairobi. Along the way, we picked up a couple of young boys to return to the CYEC, a place for “street kids” or children who have been abandoned by their parents for any multitude of reasons. After arriving at the CYEC (located in Nyeri), I was so impressed with the facilities and efforts established to raise and train productive members of the Kenyan society. The CYEC had classrooms that taught reading, math, etc., but also sewing, knitting and construction. On the property, there was also plenty of land for gardening, which the children help to maintain.

Since my job was to assess the legal and ethical framework around the Mashavu telemedicine system, I spent a lot of time talking to the CYEC nurse, community members, and local doctors and nurses. From these discussions I learned a great deal about the lack of systemized training for Kenyan nurses, issues of privacy and informed consent in Kenya, community and tribal differences surrounding educational levels and attitudes towards healthcare along with the many economic constraints for Kenyan citizens.

The opportunity to travel to SubSaharan Africa with a team of extremely intelligent students and teachers proved to be invaluable for my academic and professional growth. I would recommend that all students join a global venture that interests them at some point during their tenure in school.