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Empowering girls through education and health – 2022

Kenya-WISER
Dates May 10 - July 4, 2022
Program Focus

Empowering underprivileged girls in rural Kenya through improvements in education and health; preventing teen pregnancies and child marriages by supporting adolescent girls in academic and sexual and reproductive health educational programs; providing opportunities to develop leadership skills so girls can drive change in their communities; creating opportunities for youth to practice English in preparation for national exams in English that determine access to further education; supporting skill development in engineering, ICT and coding; developing  STEM entrepreneurs; and assessing the impact of a clean water system serving 15,000 people.

 

Dates subject to change

Program Leaders
Program Themes
  • Education
  • Health
  • Women

Overview

Muhuru Bay, Kenya, is a rural village of about 25,000 spread out over a peninsula in Lake Victoria. The community relies predominantly on fishing and subsistence farming with some small businesses. Most of the community lacks electricity, clean water, or access to sanitation and has the highest HIV, malaria, and infant mortality rates in Kenya.

Dr. Broverman has worked in Kenya for 20 years, researching the role gender played in creating the elevated HIV infection rate in girls in East Africa and how educational systems could be used as powerful intervention points to reduce risk. To develop and assess interventions, Dr. Broverman started the NGO WISER in Kenya and WISER International in the US. Together these organizations have created a highly successful model for reducing HIV risk in girls and producing high achieving leaders from a poor, traditionally low-performing community.

 

While working for eight weeks students will assist WISER to empower girls and communities through transformative education and holistic health. WISER accomplishes this by a range of interventions that include health, education, STEM entrepreneurship, and leadership development. Partners will include high school girls enrolled in the WISER secondary school in Kenya, their teachers, primary school students and teachers, local health programs, and community groups.

 

Community Partnerships

  • Analyzing data on a clean water system
  • Working with an engineering club on sustainable clean energy projects
  • Expanding and assessing a community sexual reproductive health and rights program
  • Teaching girls in a computer science/robotics club how to program drones and edit aerial video of the community, including extent of our clean water system, how far people have to walk to access water, overviews of campus, the paths girls take during daily lives off campus for water and wood, etc
  • Working at the local ministry of health center to help them with data and records analysis
  • Running a debate, poetry and public speaking club
  • Possibly developing new sexual and reproductive health curricula for out-of-school young mothers
  • Documentary work on the lives of girls in the community

 

Program Requirements

Coursework: Specific courses are not required; however, students taking courses relevant to global health, women’s issues, engineering, computer science, entrepreneurship, English, Education, or international development might be given priority.

Skills: Students involved in research will be given training. Documentary/writing skills and programming skills welcomed.

Personal qualities:

  • Ability to manage stress in novel environments and with little personal space. Students will be living communally in a bunkhouse and have limited opportunities to be alone. Introverts welcomed!
  • Ability to see situations from different perspectives, even ones you disagree with. To be curious and open without judgement.
  • Ability to work in a community in which the male-female dynamic can be very different from in the U.S.
  • Strong problem-solving skills and flexibility. Being able to reach a goal even when the path keeps changing.
  • Self-reliance and self-confidence. Understands and meets their own physical and emotional needs with an age-appropriate mixture of optimism and realism.

 

Logistics

Housing, meals, and transportation: All students will live together on the six-acre gated WISER campus overlooking Lake Victoria. Electricity can be unreliable, but there should be several hours a day with access. If there are long-term power outages, students may not have access to hot showers and may have to use heated buckets of water as most traditional Kenyans do. Housing on campus will be bunk beds in a common mixed-gender dormitory. Local women can be hired to do laundry if you do not wish to wash your own clothes.

Meals will be provided by the WISER cafeteria. Protein is very rare in the local diet and most food is based on corn-meal, rice, and beans. Students can enrich their diet by buying protein, fruits, and vegetables in town and cooking for themselves in the visitor’s kitchen using a propane burner. It becomes fun to see what favorite foods one can assemble!

Health Note: Peanuts are a common ingredient in the local cuisine. Easily accessed to treatment for travelers experiencing a severe allergic reaction to this and other food(s) is limited at this program site. Students who are considering application to DukeEngage-Kenya-WISER should review these facts with their families and medical providers before applying.

Most transportation within Muhuru Bay will be by motorcycle taxi with vetted drivers. Transportation outside of Muhuru will be provided by a trusted company that has worked with WISER for fourteen years or by another chartered service approved by our community partner.

Local safety, security, and cultural norms: We encourage students who have questions or concerns about health or safety in international programs to check Duke’s International SOS (ISOS) portal for relevant information. If you have special needs related to health, culture, disability, or religious practices, please contact the program director(s) or the DukeEngage office to discuss whether your needs can be accommodated in this program.

For guidance on how race, religion, sexual/gender identity, ability, or other aspects of identity might impact your travels, we suggest exploring the Diversity, Identity and Global Travel section of the DukeEngage website.

 

Academic Connections

This program is open to all, and might especially appeal to students taking courses in global health, education, biology, English, women/gender studies, public policy, cultural anthropology, engineering, computer programming, and ICS.

Potential program cancellations

DukeEngage cannot guarantee that any program will occur. Programs may be cancelled for various reasons, including COVID considerations.

DukeEngage Alumni On Staff at WISER

Zack Fowler (’16) and Leah Catotti (’15) have worked at WISER International.

Read Their Story