M2 student – University of Tennessee Medical College
FACES Rongo, June – August 2009
Summer 2009: For these two months, I spent my time in Rongo – a small roadside town enroute to Migori and beyond, Tanzania. Barely gracing even the most detailed of maps, life in Rongo is incredibly full and its inhabitants intensely kind. Beginning with the gregarious FACES staff to nearly every individual you meet in your daily interactions, the community is eager to know its few visitors and envelop you into the folds of their day.
My project was to get an Early Infant HIV Diagnosis pilot project up and running in Rongo’s district hospital. Implementation was not obstacle free – but every negotiation gained was a lesson learned in collaboration and sustainability. Working with both patient populations and providers, we set into place a program that has the ability to capture HIV positive children in a non-PMTCT setting, while also disseminating education to a wider net of mothers bringing their children in for routine vaccinations.
In addition to running the pilot, I was able to participate in male circumcisions, school-based outreach, and clinical care both on and off-site. My overall experience primarily speaks to the abounding generosity of the Rongo FACES staff to accommodate your every smidge of curiosity. I came away with a wealth of knowledge about HIV/AIDS care and treatment, but also a deeper instilment of Kenyans’ spirit to fight for the next day, no matter the barriers that have been erected along the way.
I’m further solidified in my desire to pursue medicine in a global setting and to return to eastern Africa in the coming years. I could not have envisioned a more fulfilling and memorable adventure to partake in for the summer.