Pharmacy Students Return from Life-Changing Trip to Kenya
Pharmacy students Megan Monahan and Michael Smith were looking for an opportunity to travel abroad on a mission - a medical mission. And after researching and talking with other students and faculty, the two decided Kenya was the place for them.
They learned about Medical Missions Kenya and Hunger Relief, and were captivated by the organization’s mission. Founded in 2011, the organization mobilizes medical volunteers to lend their services during two-week missions. It was started by Millicent Manyore, a native Kenyan and registered nurse who wanted to make a difference in her homeland after witnessing first-hand the lack of access to basic health care services that was impacting her family and village.
Monahan and Smith traveled with a group of nurses and a medical resident from the University of California, Los Angeles; a doctor from Canada; a local pharmacist; and two non-medical volunteers.
While in Kenya, the group saw 400 patients in just four days, treating mostly fungal and musculoskeletal pain problems in patients from rural areas. They treated patients suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, and sexually transmitted infections. The group also held a chiggers removal clinic for approximately 150 patients to help remove the microscopic and biting mites.
In addition, they made a visit to a local orphanage and handed out toothbrushes, toothpaste, toys, and deworming medication to 120 orphans. Monahan remembers how grateful and honest they were.
“When we were giving out toothbrushes, we ran out of them. We were about five short, so we ran to a store and bought a few more. After going back, the children were so honest about who received one and who didn’t. Their friends and siblings were looking out for each other,” she said.
As Monahan and Smith were about to leave, the children sang and danced for them so they joined in, singing songs including, “Lean on Me,” “Seasons of Love,” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Another impactful experience Monahan remembers was after a hard day at the clinic when the Masai tribe in the village performed a dance for her and Smith, accepting them into the tribe.
“I would recommend that everyone travel abroad on a volunteer trip, whether it’s medically-related or not,” she said. “It really gives you a sense of how fortunate you are here. It is also a great feeling knowing that someone is truly grateful for your help.”
Monahan will be participating in one final medical mission to India in January 2015.