$10,000 grant helps Gift Pola Kiti ’18 bring clinic to Kenyan village
“I am passionate about public health,” says Gift Pola Kiti ’18 of Mombasa, Kenya. It’s a passion that Kiti is putting into action back home this summer, thanks to a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant.
Kiti was awarded the grant to complete the establishment of Zawadi Healthcare Services, a health clinic in Kashani, an impoverished village of approximately 8,000 residents on the outskirts of Mombasa.
Kiti’s Projects for Peace award will finish the renovation of the clinic building and pay for equipment. The clinic will provide healthcare services, nutrition education, and family planning services.
“I was raised not so far from Kashani and I have relatives in the area, so it has always been home for me,” says Kiti, a chemistry major at Bates. “I was actively involved with the community church in the area through singing in the church, teaching in Sunday school, and other volunteer activities.”
Kiti has seen friends experience unplanned pregnancies, and knows of members of her church who have died because they couldn’t obtain timely healthcare.
Across Kenya, about a third of the population lacks access to health care, and distance to healthcare facilities is a significant barrier to access. Residents of Kashani must walk at least three miles under the hot sun to catch a bus to the nearest health clinic, six miles away.
The absence of a healthcare facility in Kashani means that residents delay treatment until their health has deteriorated, Kiti says. The situation has led to high morbidity and mortality rates from preventable and easily treatable conditions. Kiti has seen friends experience unplanned pregnancies, and knows of members of her church who have died because they couldn’t obtain timely healthcare.
In summer 2016, Kiti conducted a health needs assessment of Kashani with a nurse and other health care workers. A local church donated a building for a clinic, and last October the Clinton Global Initiative University Innovation Fund provided a grant to begin renovations and the collection of supplies and equipment. Volunteer staffing commitments are also in hand.
The Projects for Peace grant will enable the completion of the care center, with the opening planned for the end of summer 2017.
“This community has provided support throughout my life and when I received a scholarship to study in the U.S., the community celebrated with me,” says Kiti, who brings a wealth of organizational, administrative, and business expertise to the project.
“My desire to achieve something meaningful for this community gave birth to Zawadi Healthcare Services.”