Hellen Ondeng’

Medical Student, Moi University
FACES Kisumu: August – September 2012

I am a 5th year medical student from Moi University, School of Medicine. I started my electives with FACES on the 20th of August to 29th of September, based at Lumumba Health Centre, Kisumu. My elective term was very successful.

I would like to sincerely thank FACES for the great opportunity they gave me to work and learn with them.

My main objective was to get a feel of the world of research. I am proud to say that after 6 weeks, I have more than achieved my objectives.

As a Kenyan from Nyanza province, I had never quite appreciated fully the effect of HIV in Nyanza. It is one thing to read about Nyanza having the highest HIV prevalence in Kenya. Getting to the ground and seeing how desperate the situation really is was something of a new experience to me. It is very plausible what FACES is doing to help the people deal with the situation. The clinical care, nutritional and social support is wonderful.

The experience was intellectually rewarding. I knew right from day one that it was going to be a wonderful experience after interacting with the PI whose project I was attached to. Every member of the study team to which I was assigned taught me something new. I would like to specifically thank Norton Sang, who was my immediate supervisor for the duration I was attached to FACES. He was a great teacher, answering all my questions, and challenging me to be better.

I was involved in different study-related activities, includingrecruiting participants, answering their questions, data collection, quality assurance and quality. I appreciated the importance of documenting events during a study and of proper record keeping.

I was able to fit in comfortably with the rest of the study team and enjoyed working together with them. At the end of every week,we would have a meeting to discuss study progress, raise and talk about issues that came up and together deal with whatever conflicts arose. This taught me so much about the importance of teamwork and the need to be a teamplayer.

I appreciated being tasked with given study-related responsibilities, and the challenge that came with the responsibilities. I had to rise up to the challenge and learnt about some of my hidden strengths!

I also made a lot of friends during my stay in Kisumu. Living together with other students from UCSF, experiencing the different cultures in our own ‘microenvironment’ was so much fun.

All in all, I would like to say ‘thank you’ to FACES for making this experience possible for me. It has been a great eye opening opportunity for me and I am immensely grateful.

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