Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Intern Noelle Voges

Our most recent intern, Noelle Voges, has just returned from Kenya. Here she shares some of her experience with you. Our organization and the community was grateful she lent her time and talents to making a difference there, and that she did in a relatively short amount of time. Noelle continues to support the organization State-side.

"I returned to the States only two weeks ago, and I am already itching to return to the welcoming and beautiful village of Takaungu. Before beginning my internship with the EAC, I was graciously greeted into my homestay. This large family of 12 made me feel right at home by allowing me to be their shadow around the village, introducing me to their friends and extended family members, teaching me how to cook local Swahili dishes, and helping me learn ‘easy’ Swahili phrases. Although, no matter how many times I practiced, I somehow always ended up saying, “I’m getting married tomorrow” instead of “I will see you tomorrow”!

Aisha, my amazing homestay mother, and I, in her new home.

Fatma, one of the young ladies in my homestay, and I, putting farufaru in bags to be sold at Vutakaka Primary School.

I am so lucky to have had such an amazing internship experience with the EAC! My focus in graduate school is on public health and community development, and the EAC was the perfect fit for both of these interests. The EAC is truly instrumental in the Takaungu community, along with the neighboring villages. I primarily worked with the EAC’s community health team, which consisted of three hardworking and passionate people, whom I now call my friends. Mohamed, Joyce, and Joy would travel many miles each day on foot, bicycle, or Boda Boda to reach a targeted group of individuals for their health education programs. As part of the Stay Alive Program implemented by the EAC, students received information on HIV/AIDS prevention and basic health and hygiene education with the goal of establishing healthier lifestyles.

One of my favorite experiences was being a part of the ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign launched by the World Health Organization, guided by Kenya’s Ministry of Health, and implemented in Takaungu and three neighboring villages by members of the EAC, volunteers, and employees of the local dispensary in Takaungu. We walked door-to-door in various villages looking for children under the age of 5 to administer the polio booster vaccination, and we documented the households and locations where we traveled so other health teams would not repeat the area we had already reached. It was inspiring to see so many individuals helping in this cause, and I was also surprised to see how willing the parents were in letting us inoculate their children without questioning our authority or medical knowledge. In one afternoon, the health team I was assigned to inoculated 107 children and visited 79 households and 2 nursery schools.

 Administering the polio vaccination to a willing child.

My time with the EAC was pivotal in helping to evaluate my public health interests as my time in graduate school comes to an end this year. I’m looking forward to speaking to future public health graduate students about the exciting work the EAC is doing in the coastal village of Takaungu, and hopefully it will inspire others to intern with this great organization. Takaungu will always be special to me, and I will forever speak fondly of my time interning with the EAC."