Medical Volunteering in Africa: MedTreks Kenya August 2019
MedTreks Global Health
& Medical Volunteer Program
August Medical Trip 2019
Medical volunteering abroad is one of the most rewarding experiences as a health professional. There are many different programs for medical volunteering, some are effective and some are ineffective and even harmful. MedTreks was designed to help build capacity and promote shared learning and growth through cross-cultural medical experiences. Twice a year MedTreks co-hosts a Global Health Medical Volunteer & Educational Seminar in Kenya, with Village HopeCore International.
It is a 9-day course that is packed full of education, hands-on skills, teamwork, leadership, mentorship, and global health discussions. The week starts with a full day orientation for the medical volunteers who travel to Kenya, introducing them to MedTreks’ program in Kenya working with HopeCore, providing a background on the HopeCore public health and development program, in additional to various lectures on global health, humanitarian medicine, travel medicine and staying healthy while traveling and working abroad. Our program works to help our medical volunteers from different regions of the United States feel informed and prepared for the week ahead.
Why do we do the work that we do?
Part of the first day of introduction with the MedTreks team is helping to set the stage for the work we do while we are in Kenya. We often use the statistic from the World Health Organization that “Africa has 24% of the world’s burden of disease, but only 3% of the world’s healthcare workforce to address this burden”. Looking at the larger picture of the humanitarian crises around the world can be overwhelming and often lead people to feel helpless, or not knowing how to get involved. We focus on this statistic from the WHO because it allows us to focus on small steps to target in terms of global health and strengthening the global health workforce. These short term medical trips are a way for healthcare providers to experience medicine in another part of the world, work side by side local staff and help build capacity through teaching topics on their specific expertise.
So what happened in August 2019?
Another MedTreks team traveled to Kenya to engage in the full 9-day Global Health Seminar with Village HopeCore International. Our theme for this trip was “Celebrating the African Mother and Child” and our focus for training was on topics that helped promote the health of Kenyan mothers and children, which is consistent with HopeCore’s key mission.
Mothers and children lining up to receive free healthcare at one of HopeCore’s Mobile Clinics
Teaching how to support mothers during difficult times:
We were fortunate to have Dr. Deepika Goyal with our MedTreks team. She specializes in maternal health and in particular perinatal depression. She gave a thorough presentation and led a thoughtful discussion on how to screen, treat and prevent perinatal depression, which affects around 20% of Kenyan mothers.
Dr. Goyal and the MedTreks teams help out with patient registration HopeCore Sunday clinic
Birth, Babies, and Breastfeeding!
Traveling from Colorado, after visiting her family in Slovenia, sweet Sylvia Metzger, FNP showed up with luggage full of teaching aids and fun activities to help the HopeCore staff learn about healthy birthing practices, breastfeeding tips for mothers and supportive baby care!
A mother, physician assistant, doctorate student, and MedTreks clinical education coordinator:
Meet Jenny..and her wonderful family – Rolf (father), Tayden ( 9 years) & Crixus (6 years). Jenny first traveled with MedTreks to Kenya in July 2018. A few months after her return home, she was already planning a trip the following year, to not only bring her family but have her two sons get involved and raise money for the malaria eradication program at HopeCore. The boys spent the next several months learning about malaria and educating students in their schools about malaria and how it affects places like Kenya. The boys held different fundraisers in their community in Southern Oregon and raised several thousand dollars that they then got to distribute by hand. Learn more about Malaria Eradication HERE
Doctor Rasori is back with MedTreks!
After 2.5 years, another MedTreks Trips finally overlaps with Dr. Phil Rasori, HopeCore’s Medical Director. It was beyond special having him on this trip. Witnessing his endless energy and enthusiasm for the HopeCore project, spending his hours in meetings with the HopeCore team, having dinners with the Ministry of Health and then spending the evenings presenting to the MedTreks team about sustainable health in Kenya and what that looks like in the next 30 years. We all left his lectures feeling inspired and empowered.
New Grads take the leap into Global Health
One of the coolest aspects of this trip is the diversity of experience, expertise, and passion that the different members of the MedTreks team bring. On this trip, we had 3 New Graduate RNs, who just finished school at Oregon Health Science University and University of California San Francisco. While our programs consist mainly of experienced health professionals, we are dedicated to growing the next generation of the global health workforce. We feel that starting a career with an experience like MedTreks Kenya, can be instrumental in helping give direction and demonstrate opportunities for involvement in humanitarian medicine and world health.
Nabha celebrating her first badge as an RN!
Additional MedTreks adventures
MedTreks & HopeCore team taking the morning off to do a hike at one of the local waterfalls
Traditional Kenya vs USA Soccer Match:
Always a highlight, and a chance for the staff to interact outside of the classroom and clinic setting. Music, team dances, cheerleaders…yes it all happens. And Kenya has won for the 3rd year in a row. At 5,000 feet the US MedTreks team is at a bit of a disadvantage without appropriate time to acclimatize. Learn more about our soccer games HERE!
Friday Farewell Party:
A chance for the teams to share with each other what they have learned from the week and say thank you in person. Although simple, this is actually a very powerful way to end the trip, with many MedTreks team members in tears from their experience, feeling like their hearts have opened in new ways and they will be returning home to the United States with a fresh perspective on medicine, and maybe even on life.
From Sylvia M, RN, FNP, Colorado, USA
“For over 15 years, I was dreaming of visiting Africa …Not only that dream came through this summer but the reality turned out to be much better than I could have ever imagined. I came back re-energized, uplifted and inspired. It was a life-changing experience and gave me a sense of a new direction. Being surrounded by people with such big hearts, who care so deeply about the wellbeing of others, has been invigorating, and humbling, and instantly created a sense of belonging. The Village HopeCore and MedTreks team – you became a part of my heart forever.”
Read what others say about MedTreks here
Adventures around Kenya!
For many of our MedTreks participants, Africa is on their bucket list and if they travel all the way over to Kenya, they also want the opportunity to witness the animals and landscape of the country. We highly encourage this as it does give a full picture of what Kenya has to offer, it is a truly magnificent country:
This year some of our team enjoyed a full-day tour of Nairobi including an amazing Safari in Nairobi National Park which is a hidden gem tucked just outside city limits.
Feeding Giraffes at the Giraffe Center, Nairobi
Nairobi National Park
The 9 days working with HopeCore is packed with fulfilling work but going straight on an airplane back to work in the United States can be exhausting and a difficult transition in terms of culture shock. In the MedTreks spirit of promoting self care for healthcare, we now offer a Kenya Coast retreat after the 9 days in the Village. This is a time to unwind, decompress, reflect but also learn another part of the Kenya country, the Swahili culture of the coast. It is hard to beat the silky white sand beach and warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Diani Beach Kenya
Riding Camels on Diani Beach
To learn more about our trips or join our team, contact us HERE!