One bucket at a time  pg. 6

“We're also planning on passing out brief health surveys at a local market in order to reach as many people as possible. We'll be looking at prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS, malaria, childhood illnesses, child immunizations and maternal and newborn care.”

The students will also establish GPS (Global Positioning System) mapping of the clinic, nearby water sources, and other institutions in the area like primary schools and health facilities so that their house-to-house surveys to be easily replicated.

“We’ll map distinctive landmarks and houses,” Foust explains, “so that other people can return later and repeat our research to assess the impact the clinic is having on the health of the community.

“I hope to walk away with a whole new appreciation of Africa and the work it takes to start a small clinic.”

Ochieng’ understands all too well the frustrations of trying to work in two worlds. In Lwala, even basic communication services can be frustrating. Contacting his older brother, Omondi, who oversees the clinic’s construction, is often a challenge.

Ochieng' examines a child in his village, which is about 30 miles from Lake Victoria.
Photos courtesy of Milton Ochieng'
“If his cell phone battery runs down,” Ochieng’ relates, “he has to go to Rongo, seven miles away, to recharge it. He also has to go to Rongo to check e-mail, which doesn’t work half the time. In that case, he has to go to Kisii or Homabay, 25 miles away, to check my e-mails.”

Wright, who conducts AIDS research in Haiti, is well aware of the hurdles Ochieng’ faces to make the clinic a reality. Yet he can’t help being impressed.

“Milton has done much of the planning on his own,” he says. “He’s mobilized his village in Kenya and the Vanderbilt community…

“When Milton first approached me with the idea for his Emphasis project, it sounded impractical. But I’ve learned not to bet against him.”

“Milton is a fireball,” says Schaffner, “in a very organized, mature, goal-oriented way. One of the qualities of leadership is vision. He has a vision for health care in his country.”

Change the world

Like other global efforts, the Lwala clinic project raises cultural concerns – and opportunities. “All international medical activities have special challenges in that regard,” Schaffner continues, “You also have to be careful that you’re not creating problems when you introduce new things.”

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