We are five nursing students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Lauren Wordsworth, Sarah Johnson, Taylor Hensel, Bilach Diba, and Natalie Watanasiriroch. We worked at Reach-Out Orphans and Vulnerable Children for two weeks as part of our global health externship. So far we have assisted in two free health clinics to the Reach-Out community and its surrounding areas, one in West Kochieng and the other in East Kochieng. Both of the clinics were very successful and had an exceptional turnout of 350 and 400 respectively. We were very thankful to have nursing students from Moi University assist us for both of the health clinics. Collectively we were able to recognize and treat a variety of illnesses such as malaria, respiratory tract infections and eye infections. We also provided wound care and voluntary HIV testing accompanied by counseling.
Pam McQuide and Hezekiah were a big influence in another major project we did of distributing sanitary pads to the female students. We were amazed to learn how common it is throughout Africa for girls to miss up to a month of school each year due to the lack of sanitary pads. Through the generosity of family and friends we were able to raise the money needed to partner with Lions-Rotary Club and HEART of Africa to distribute a year’s worth of sanitary pads and four pairs of clean underwear to the girls of Reach-Out.
We hope that this will decrease school absences for the female students and keep them in school. Reach-Out puts a strong emphasis on female empowerment and staying in school is a vital part of that. We assisted the school counselor Rispah in the Girl Talk, a weekly meeting discussing important topics concerning girls. Our group of family and friends was so supportive that we surpassed our fund-raising goal and were able to contribute even further to Reach-Out. With Hezekiah’s guidance, we decided to donate a swing-set and slide for the preschoolers, a soccer ball as well as 20 textbooks for the students in Form Three and Form four.
During our time in Kisumu, we stayed at the St. Anna Guest House. We also brought on our trip some items of our own to donate such as toy animals, pencils, wall-mounted pencil sharpeners, jump ropes, candy, seeds, balloon toys, and books. Besides sharpening our clinical skill we were able to see first hand the great services that this organization provides to the students in the community and all that is to come. Interacting with the students showed us how bright they all are and how hopeful they are of their futures.
Additionally, the community members are also so gracious of everything that Reach-Out does for them. This taught us even a little kind gesture could go a long way. Our experience at Reach Out made us realize how fortunate we are and has inspired us to consider continued support for the students at reach. We are planning to bring our stories and experiences to the UNC nursing community in the hopes of fostering future support.
On behalf of the five of us,