Topeka, Kan. — Baker University School of Nursing faculty, alumni and students continue to assist 2008 School of Nursing graduates Ephantus Kimori Mwangi and Hottensiah Kimori in delivering on their medical mission of promoting health care in Kenyan communities through Streams of Hope International.
In July for the organization’s sixth medical mission, nursing professor Ruth Ohm and assistant nursing professor Marlene Eicher, a 2005 graduate, joined a team of volunteers, including nursing students Alexandria Clark, Cierra Clark, Emilie Durgan and Erin Stephan. Two Stormont-Vail HealthCare nurses Mercedes Eicher, Class of 2012, and Lorin Feiden, Class of 2014, also made the 12-day trip, including days spent housed in living quarters with mosquito nets.
The Baker students and alumni all brought suitcases filled with 50 pounds of donated medical, school and hygiene supplies as well as children’s clothing. They joined nursing and medical students from the University of Nairobi and Moi University to provide services to 750 patients at two clinic sites.
“Ephantus and Hottensiah came from Kenya to our nursing program because they wanted to give back and help their native country,” said Ohm, who presented evidence-based practice research content at Ngong Sub-District Hospital for health-care staff and the faculty at Egerton University School of Nursing. “It was amazing to see how much these facilities could make out of limited resources. The Baker nursing students were wonderful, very professional and very kind.”
Marlene taught cardiovascular health and diabetes management to people already diagnosed. Ephantus interpreted her English presentation in Swahili for the patients. Because of a lack of education, many of the patients hadn’t checked their blood pressure or blood sugar, Marlene said.
“There’s a feeling of warmth you come away with by helping them,” Marlene said. “It changes you forever. It changes you inside.”
Alexandria Clark, who will graduate in December from the School of Nursing, embraced the opportunity to travel abroad for the mission trip. Once she saw promotional material distributed at the School of Nursing in Topeka her first semester, she began raising funds to travel to Kenya. When she arrived in Kenya, Alexandria was eager to apply the assessment skills she learned in nursing school. She was responsible for weighing and measuring the patients in addition to organizing the flow of the patients.
“It was rewarding to practice what I learned in nursing school,” she said. “In my mind, I would diagnose what I thought the patients’ condition might be and then later I would find out what happened.”
While working with other volunteers, the Baker faculty and students gained a deeper appreciation for the culture in Kenya.
“The international medical mission has truly expanded the students’ world view of health care and nursing vision for the future,” said Marlene, an advisor for Nurses for Cultural Awareness at the School of Nursing.
Alexandria takes pride in knowing Baker alumni developed plans for Streams of Hope.
“Ephantus and Hottensiah had a dream in nursing school, everything came together and now they are seeing their dream in action,” she said. They are not content and are looking ahead to next year. It makes me so proud to say that they are alumni from Baker’s School of Nursing.”