Dave, a student from CMU, talked to us this week about his newly formed organization, Kenya Community Partnership. The whole idea started when a faculty member from CMU's business school went to Kenya and discovered in the rural villages that many of the orphanages were overcrowded. To fix this, the Kenya Community Partnership is planning to set up what is called a social enterprise model, where a business is set up to raise funds to met a social need, in this case, expanding orphan care. This model is similar to what we hope to do with our network of community-based organizations in Malawi to help them maintain their services. Because of our similar interests, Dave wants to collaborate with us in future.
JJ Krais and Rachel Murray spoke to us about their trip to Tanzania this last summer. The majority of their trip was taken up performing individual research projects at a local hospital. They learned an incredible amount about how medicine works in the Third World and the problems they face. One of Rachel's biggest setbacks during her research was the lack of extensive patient records. Many of the "doctors" in the Tanzania are not MDs but are rather given special training to perform all of the necessary tasks, most especially childbirth and pediatric care, but at times the same doctors can be psychiatrists! JJ found during his research that many of the machines and medical equipment the developed world "donates" to the hospital goes unused because the doctors and nurses lack training, the equipment is broken, or they simply have no use for it, as if the developed countries just dumped their old equipment on them with no question of whether it was needed. I think this is an important lesson for what we as a country do overseas: it is important to assess the needs of the community before we send aid or start projects.
Anyway, we are still planning to bring a speaker from Partners in Health to speak here at Pitt, and considering the dire situation in Haiti (where Partners in Health are headquartered) this would be a great opportunity to hear firsthand about work being done there. Stay tuned and I'll see yinz next week.