Harvard and Great Lakes University Students Support MCI’s Work in Kisumu

Six students from Harvard  Summer School and one graduate student from Great Lakes University of Kisumu (GLUK) have made tremendous contributions to MCI this summer, joining MCI Public Health and Social Sector Specialists, Ms. Beldina Opiyo-Omolo and Mr. Shadrack Ngewa, to support three important initiatives in Kisumu.

The students are all participants in a six-week course, running from June 5-July 12 and entitled, “Innovations, Technologies, and Health Transformation in Africa.” Taught by Harvard Professors Thomas Burke,  Roy Ahn, Anita McGahan, Sean Flannery, Christopher Kabrhel and Jonathan Rosen, in conjunction with GLUK’s Professor  Richard Muga, the course is designed so that all 18 students have class at GLUK three days a week and spend the balance of their time supporting Kisumu’s development needs, working primarily with NGOs.

Natalie Doyle, a Harvard undergraduate, and Ashton Kingsman, a Harvard Extension School student, are helping MCI fulfill a request from the Mayor of Kisumu and the Kisumu City Council to create a sustainable database of all NGOs, community-based organizations and other developmental partners working in town. There are many development organizations focused on helping Kisumu’s residents, according to MCI Public Health Specialist Opiyo-Omolo; yet there is very little coordination amongst them. Additionally, many of these organizations maintain an office in the city, but their programs are focused on the rural areas outside of town. Beldina suggested that the students develop a database to enable city officials to better understand and monitor the organizations’ work, including their precise locations. The database, which will be added to the City Council of Kisumu’s website, will also provide access to other development partners, assisting in MCI’s and the City’s efforts to coordinate development-related interventions throughout the city.

Molly Murphy, a student at Harvard University, Meagan HoChing, a student at Harvard Extension School, and Pamela Abila, a graduate student at GLUK, are working on an environmental sustainability project, within Kisumu’s “Greening Cities Initiative,” focused on food security and health in poor urban environments. Molly, Megan and Pamela have created an educational urban garden facility at GLUK, providing an arena for teaching community members about farming in an urban environment. They are calling this “Blood and Bud,” and have created a Facebook page (link) for this garden, which they hope to sustain after they leave by partnering with GLUK Agribusiness students. For more information about “Bloom and Bud,” read Meagan’s blog, featured on MCI’s blog site.

Finally, Matt Marotta, a Harvard undergraduate, and Dan Baker, a student at University of Massachusetts – Amherst, are supporting MCI’s and our partner LitWorld’s efforts to create the first Boys’ LitClubs, at the urging of Kisumu education officials, following the successes of Kisumu’s Girls’ LitClubs. The Boys’ LitClubs will provide literacy and other learning opportunities for adolescent boys, while fostering a positive, creative environment. Matt and Dan are currently working closely with LitWorld to train teachers from Kisumu Day High School.

“Connecting with MCI is a home run for us,” exclaimed Harvard Prof. Thomas Burke. We at MCI feel the same – connecting with the Harvard and GLUK communities has been a major hit for MCI, and we are deeply grateful for the group’s efforts to help such an important Millennium City!

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