Health students raise funds and visit Kenya to expand their health care education
Health students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are helping youngsters in Kenya to continue their education while at the same time broadening their own horizons on how women’s health is looked after in different cultures.
Four students on midwifery, children’s nursing and sexual health courses visited the Maasai community in Kenya after raising more than £1,500 for the MaaChild charity, which provides educational bursaries for local children to continue their schooling at secondary level.
During the visit the group was able to see first-hand how the money they’ve raised will help Maasai children by visiting a local school as well as spending time in two health clinics to learn how health services in in the Maasai community operate, particularly around HIV treatment and female genital mutilation (FGM).
"Local culture really affects how the community approaches sexual health and child birth and it was interesting to see the contrast with how we work in the UK."
Second year sexual health student Lizzie Koppens said: “It was an amazing trip though at times it was heart breaking to see how few resources are available at home, at school and for health care. Local culture really affects how the community approaches sexual health and child birth and it was interesting to see the contrast with how we work in the UK.”
MaaChild has already sponsored 26 children through their secondary education over the last six years which costs on average £1,400 per child. The charity’s founder and UCLan graduate Therese Green thanked the students for their fundraising efforts which included a cake sale and sponsored cycle and swimming events.
She said: “On behalf of the Maasai community we serve I want to express our deepest appreciation for the students’ generosity in support of MaaChild. Their support came at a very crucial moment, their personal commitment was incredibly helpful and their individual fundraising pursuits were a joy to hear about and an inspiration to all.
“Collectively every penny the students have raised now guarantees one Maasai child a full four years of sustainable secondary education. We are very humbled by UCLan’s recent support for our work which will now prepare one young person to cope with and assist their community with the inevitable changes they are experiencing in their culture."
"The venture not only provided vital funds for MaaChild to continue its important role in educating the young Maasi people, it also really opened the eyes of the UCLan students to the dramatic differences in approaches to health services in the community."
The students also met Mary, the first female Maasai chief and government official who is doing a lot of work to empower women by stopping FGM and helping victims to escape domestic violence.
Jacqui Gibson, UCLan Senior Midwifery Lecturer, helped to coordinate the inaugural trip to Kenya. She commented: “The venture not only provided vital funds for MaaChild to continue its important role in educating the young Maasi people, it also really opened the eyes of the UCLan students to the dramatic differences in approaches to health services in the community. There are many taboos, such as how they view contraception, which we have to work around.”
In addition to fundraising for MaaChild, the UCLan group also took equipment such as uniforms and gloves for use in the clinics and toiletries, clothes and stationery for the local people. Jacqui is hoping to run the trip again next year with more UCLan students.
See more photos from the visit on UCLan's Flickr Gallery.