Village Hopecore International is currently offering medical volunteering opportunities for physicians, nurses and paramedical personnel at its project site in Chogoria, Kenya. Individual volunteers will have the opportunity to work in our school-based mobile health clinic.
Village Hopecore International
Village Hopecore International is non profit, tax exempt organization registered in Kenya and the United States with a mission to eradicate poverty and improve the health and living conditions of the Wameru people of Chogoria, Kenya. At this time, the project affects approximately 6,000 villagers and has been operating for the last ten years. The project site is situated on Mt. Kenya, three hours north of Nairobi by car at 5,000 feet elevation in a lovely area of tea and coffee farms. It is located approximately 20 miles south of the equator.
In 2000, VHI began a unique and innovative poverty eradication project that combines a village level health care program, a Grameen style micro enterprise village bank, and an adult education program. The health care program focuses on HIV and malaria prevention and on child and maternal health issues. VHI was possibly the first micro enterprise bank in the world to offer micro loans to HIV+ individuals.
In 2009, VHI received funds to begin a comprehensive malaria education, treatment and prevention program which involved placing the 6,000 individuals associated with VHI under treated malaria bed nets which last for five years before requiring re-treatment. The program involved educating individuals about the prevention and treatment of malaria. The distribution of the nets were followed by home visits to each of our families to be sure that the nets were being used correctly. The project has been a great success and is continuing and expanding. At the time of the home visit, health data is gathered on our families and further education on safe water, good nutrition, child-maternal health issues, family planning and HIV prevention and testing is provided. We now have a full time, Kenyan project nurse to help with the education and training of our members.
In January, 2011 we began a comprehensive school based mobile clinic program which services 18 primary schools and 8 high schools in our area for a total enrollment of approximately 7,200 students. The mobile clinic will visit each school every two months or six times a year. It will be staffed by a licensed Kenyan registered nurse, VHI’s health program coordinator, four community health workers, specifically trained as classroom educators and a lab technician.
The mobile clinic will offer the following four types of health services for no charge at each school visit. The first will be a teacher referral program which will allow teachers to refer any child they feel may be ill for a free clinical examination and work up by our Kenyan nurse and volunteer medical staff. The second will focus on child health maintenance by checking on immunization coverage, growth chart monitoring for the younger children, screening for anemia, malaria testing, vision tests and basic dental checks. The third will focus on basic classroom health education for children and will be implemented by the community health workers and VHI’s health program coordinator. They will enter the classrooms with LCD projectors and provide audio-visual slide presentations on health topics appropriate for that grade level. The presentations will specifically focus on malaria prevention and will be created by our Kenyan health team and will not only be medically accurate but culturally appropriate. At this time, none of the schools in our area offer any substantial classroom health education.
The fourth will offer any student treated by our nurse a free follow up and patient advocacy service that will follow each student to be sure they receive appropriate care from the local hospital or government clinics. The program is extremely cost efficient and with an average enrollment of 300 children per school, the cost for the above services will be only be $3.33 per child per year for our granting agency.
Medical volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on fashion with our mobile clinic by evaluating and treating the children seen. They will also be involved with our malaria prevention program, bed nets distribution program, HIV prevention and treatment program and will be encouraged to participate in our micro enterprise village bank program. We work closely with our 200 bed regional hospital and volunteers will be able to work in the hospital setting if they wish.
Duration of Stay and Costs Associated with Volunteering
At this time VHI is looking for physicians, nurses and paramedical personal who are willing to volunteer for a minimum of one month in our program. Do to budgetary reasons, VHI is not able at this time to pay salaries or stipends to volunteers but will provide safe, secure and inexpensive lodging at our project site and will also arrange transportation from Nairobi to our village and back for all volunteers.
The cost for room and board in the village will be approximately $300 per month. Round trip airfare from the west coast of the US to Nairobi during
the summer high season is approximately $2000-$2300 and in the winter low season is $1300-$1500. From the east coast the fares are approximately $400 less.
The project is 15 miles from the summit of Mt Kenya and treks to Mt Kenya are inexpensive and easily arranged. Kenya also provides some of the world’s greatest wildlife parks for visitors. Many volunteers to our project in the past have visited the game parks before returning home.
Medical specialists can also participate in our project. We work closely with the local 200 bed hospital and we stay within the hospital compound. We can arrange to have specialists work in the hospital setting while still participating in VHI’s public health program.
Short Term Volunteering with VHI
Many have asked about short term volunteering of two to three weeks in our program. Short term volunteers create extra work for our staff on the ground, many of which are already overworked. I have worked out a compromise with our staff in Kenya. We will try to accommodate short term volunteers but ask that in addition to the weekly room and board cost of approximately $75 per week, that individuals who are only able to volunteer for two to three weeks make a $500 per week fully tax-deductible donation to VHI’s medical program. This will be a great help to the program and will help to pay for the salaries of our staff on the ground.
Global Health CME Field Seminar in Kenya and Chogoria Village Visit
For the last ten years, I have taught a two week field seminar on global health and travel medicine in Kenya. The courses are offered in the first two weeks of February and the last two weeks of July each year. The next seminar will be in the first two weeks of February, 2012. The field seminars combine a 12 hour fully accredited, Category 1 CME course with a deluxe game viewing safari which visits four of Kenya’s most famous game parks including the Masai Mara Game Reserve which is the northern part of the Serengeti Ecosystem. The Mara was recently voted one of the seven biological wonders of the world and was the only game reserve to make that list. At the end of the field seminar, we spend 3 days at our medical project in Chogoria, Kenya. Over the years this seminar has introduced many to our program and has raised a significant amount of money for our project. I will try and e-mail you the complete itinerary and course description for 2012 by next week.
To apply, please e-mail a one page, cover letter stating the reason for your interest in our program, your medical background, the length of time for which you would like to volunteer and a CV to Phil Rasori, MD at firstname.lastname@example.org.