Project Kenya works on medical clinic in Kambi

Citizens of Kambi, Kenya, will receive new resources from SIU with the construction of a library and the start of a new medical clinic.

Peter Gitau, associate vice chancellor of student life and intercultural relations, who is originally from Kenya, has worked with the Africana studies and intercultural relations departments since 2010 to help organize student trips to the country through SIU’s study abroad program. During the trips, groups have worked for eight to 10 days to construct a new library and medical center with funding from the Undergraduate Student Government as well as other organizations.

The summer 2012 group was composed of 12 students and four faculty members, said Corbin Doss, a senior from Springfield studying civil engineering and USG vice president. The first group began construction on an SIU library in 2010, and it was completed during the summer 2011 group’s trip. Another group began construction on the SIU medical clinic this summer and will be completed next summer, Doss said.

He said the group hopes the clinic will have a full-time nurse practitioner once it is completed, and it wants area professionals and medical and nursing students to visit and help serve the village’s healthcare needs.

“The closest medical facility center they had was more than 20 miles away,” Doss said. “The new clinic is less than 100 yards from the school where the library is located.”

Carbondale’s Barnes and Noble donated books to the library, too, he said, and Project Kenya will use money raised during its Oct. 10 spaghetti dinner to cover the expensive shipping costs.

Brittany Greathouse, a junior from Bolingbrook studying accounting and USG president, said she doesn’t think Morris Library will donate any books to the Kenya library at this time.

Gitau said the group hoped to raise at least $5,000 for the libray’s books and furniture. The spaghetti dinner brought in $150, which Doss said will go toward the next trip’s expenses.

“Even though the goal wasn’t made, we’re appreciative of the donated books and will continue to raise money for the medical clinic and next year’s trip,” he said.

Several SIU colleges and programs including Student Life and Intercultural Relations, the Office of the Associate Chancellor for Institutional Diversity, and black American studies department in the College of Liberal Arts contribute money toward the yearly trips. Doss said the group collectively raised more than $4,000 for the 2012 trip.

Gitau said he will begin to accept applications Oct. 22 from students interested in attending the trip. Those chosen can obtain up to six academic credit hours for attending the trip.

He said the trip is a unique experience because participants get to embrace Kenya, the country’s people and it’s culture.

“It is truly an intercultural learning experience — an experiential immersion visit with a strong academic component,” Gitau said.

The students learn about Kenya’s past and present and explore huts within the village and meet some of the area’s residents, he said.

Doss said Project Kenya’s main goal is to raise awareness of issues outside the U.S. He said he hopes the group’s social networking accounts help others to learn what the project is about.

“Hopefully it will get students to become aware of what we’re doing to help other countries so that they can help as well,” Doss said.

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