Grow A Doc /Grow A Nurse
Grow A Doc/ Grow A Nurse is an initiative of Project Harambee to provide scholarships for medical training for motivated students. Harambee, which means “all pull together” in Swahili, is dedicated to helping African families impacted by HIV improve the lives of vulnerable children. Ten years ago, founder Keen Harrison had an implausible dream to build capacity in Kenya by providing medical scholarships to promising Kenyans who had no resources for higher education. This dream...this goal...was born of frustration from the inability to hire a Kenyan physician to provide health assessments for children in a rural area. U.S. volunteers provided only a temporary solution. The impulsive thought came: "Well, if we can't get a doc out there, we'll just have to grow our own." Thus began the "Plant A Seed, Grow A Doc" program.
To date Harambee has provided scholarships to 13 medical graduates & 10 current students in medical training programs, a formidable success. Most are graduates of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School and have been referred to us through CLC (Christian Life Community). They all have seen a parent or other family member die of HIV, thus are incredibly motivated to work and to serve. This success paved the way for launching a companion program in 2017 to address a need equally compelling in Kenya: nursing education. Project Harambee has fully or partially supported 8 nursing students. Festus Muthui is the most recent graduate (BScN 2019, University of Nairobi) and has distinguished himself academically and professionally. He has blazed a leadership path that we know others will follow. The newest Grow A Doc student is Felix Isaac Mwangi. He is a recent St. Aloysius Gonzaga graduate who is currently doing his community service at the Bursar’s office of the school. His plan is to attend Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in September to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Medicine.
As a group, the Grow A Doc /Grow A Nurse students formed a student/graduate support organization, Young Healthcare Professionals Association of Kenya (YHPAK), expanding networking and support resources to all those in medical professions. Project Harambee has supported them in this endeavor and collaborates with the group to provide free short-term medical clinics (“medical camps”) in resource-poor areas of Kenya. Nurses and Clinical Officers, the equivalent of Physicians Assistants in the U.S., are the main source of professional medical care outside of hospitals and cities. Graduates and students all participate in volunteer service projects, mentor incoming students, and work in children’s clinics and medically underserved regions before and after graduation. They engage in a travelling puppet show to educate children and adults about good health care as well as educating those at risk of HIV.
We are most grateful for all of the support Harambee has given St. Al’s students over the years in so many ways and are blessed to have them as partners in this work. For more information about Project Harambee and their varied projects in Africa, please see their website at www.projectharambee.org.