Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nurses and nutritionists have interesting summer jobs in Kenya

Nutritionists at Charlottetown airport before departure: Left to right Colleen Walton, Christina Tucker, Kaylynne Parkes and Jennifer Taylor

Student nurses at last orientation session. Left to right: Stephanie Barlow, Allison MacDonald, Amy Somers, Jillian Grady

Four UPEI student nurses and two student nutritionists will spend the summer working in Kenya out of a rural hospital in Kiirua. In addition they will work in the community doing out-reach clinics and work in local schools and with members of womens groups.

The nutritionists, Christina Tucker from Cornwall and Kaylynne Parkes from Toronto, left PEI on June 17th accompanied by Dr. Jennifer Taylor, Professor of Nutrition and Colleen Walton from Farmers Helping Farmers.

The nurses, Gillian Grady from Summerside , Allison MacDonald from Charlottetown , Amy Somers from Cardigan and Stephanie Barlow from Miscouche, accompanied by Dr. Kim Critchley, Dean of Nursing will leave PEI on June 24th. This is the third team of nurses who have worked at St. Theresa’s Mission Hospital in Kiirua.

The students will all be stationed at St. Theresa’s Mission Hospital and will return to PEI in time for classes in mid-September. The professors will return to PEI after two weeks.

In addition to working in the maternity and surgical wards of the hospital, the nurses will work at five of the Kenyan schools which are twinned with Island schools.

The nurses will carry out hand washing demonstrations at each of the schools using the new sinks installed by Farmers Helping Farmers. They will also speak to the girls who are old enough to have their periods about their personal hygiene during menstruation. Farmers Helpings Farmers has learned that girls usually have no sanitary pads to use during their periods so the nurses will give each of the girls a set of reusable sanitary pads. These were obtained through Huru International (Huru is swahili for freedom) who manufactures them in Kenya.

Kenyan girls often stay home during their period because they’re afraid the pads they’ve improvised with rags or newspapers will fall out at school, embarrassing them, said Lorna MacLeod, executive director of Huru International, a New York City-based nonprofit that has distributed backpacks containing reusable pads to Kenyan girls since 2008.
“Girls and teachers have described a sharp drop in absenteeism among the girls who have received kits,” she said.

The nutritionists will assess the nutritional value of lunches offered to students at the Ndunyu Secondary School (twinned with Three Oaks Senior High in Summerside) and the Kinyinjere Primary School (twinned with Mount Stewart School) where cookhouses were built with the 2008 and 2009 proceeds of the Village Feast in Souris. They will offer suggestions on how to improve the lunches, where required. They will offer nutritional advice on the lunches provided to over 1400 students at the Ruuju Primary School (twinned with South Shore United Church Sunday School) and Kamuketha Primary School (twinned with Kensington United Church Sunday School ) and the Kiirua Boys Secondary School (twinned with Montague Senior High School).

The nutritionists will make recommendations to mothers about babies diets. They will develop recipes that will include the more nutritious crops, grown in the Crop Diversification projects (funded by Farmers Helping Farmers and the Canadian International Development Agency) by the members of the Muchui Womens Group and the Ruuju Womens Group

The nurses will also participate in HIV/AIDS Outreach clinics and will assist with caring for the children at the Mother Maria Zanelli Childrens Home.

Farmers Helping Farmers has partnered with UPEI for these summer internships with funding from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

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