Archive for July, 2011

July 29, 2011

Tokomeza Kichocho!

Yesterday I learned that Zanzibarians don’t mess around when the second Vice President of Zanzibar (yes, there are more than one) comes to visit. The launch of ZEST has been building for months, and yesterday it culminated in dancing, singing, speeches and laughter. T-shirts and hats were even made just for the occasion.

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July 27, 2011

I couldn’t leave out the mini-safari…

I spent the weekend in Nakuru, sight seeing and visiting the national park at Lake Nakuru. I also spent some time at the elephant orphanage and giraffe center in Nairobi.

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July 27, 2011

Four days of traveling later…

I have finally settled down in one spot after days of driving and flying. There’s been a complete change of scenery; I am now on the island of Pemba, the less developed of the two main islands that make up Zanzibar.

Pemba. Control your drooling.

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July 21, 2011

Owning your health – The community’s role in schistosomiasis control

SCORE is a giant. All of its different projects require immense amounts of manpower, more villages to study than can be found, and the cooperation of those being tested and treated. It seems like all the larger studies have smaller studies tacked on; for the major drug interventions going on in several countries at once, some have subtle morbidity studies attached.

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July 18, 2011

This was my weekend… how was yours?

Everything’s bigger in Kenya, forget Texas.

This weekend was full of walking. Walking and eating.

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July 15, 2011

Almost eaten alive by children

I made it out to the field yesterday with the two study coordinators and a field team. We traveled to two schools about 45 minutes from Kisumu, both in remote areas with dirt and rocks for a road leading up to them. The children at one school get porridge on treatment day, and are generally excited for the treat. So when we drove up, they had bellies full of porridge and were hanging off every edifice I could see, as well as crowding around the ground watching us pull in.

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July 13, 2011

On to the good stuff – Kisumu, Kenya

Kenya is at the same time just what I was expecting and not at all what I thought it would be. The one thing I can’t get used to is all the people. They’re everywhere. Everyone either walks or bikes here, making the city seem larger than it is. Vehicles are reserved for public transportation, wealthier residents and foreigners. Even New York City doesn’t seem as lively as Kisumu because the streets are constantly invaded by people crossing, bikes swerving everywhere and figures walking down dirt paths on the edges of badly paved roads.

I keep asking myself what it is that makes my eyes strain from trying to take everything in. It’s not beauty; Lake Victoria and the nature surrounding Kisumu are stunning, while the town itself is not. But somehow it demands just as much attention as an ancient Italian city. Every building, even the tiniest shack, has words and illustrations and slogans painted on. Just walking down the street is an experience; children yell “How are you? How are you?” and tiny hands reach out for contact. I’ve also shook more hands in three days than I ever have in my life. At first I was a little leery (I hate handshakes anyway, too many germs), but I feel welcome no matter where I am or who I’m meeting, which you just don’t find in the US. And tilapia. LOTS of tilapia. I’m surprised I haven’t sprouted scales yet from all the fish I’ve eaten out of Lake Victoria.

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July 12, 2011

Don’t drink the water: Extreme edition

For those who didn’t read the last post on my old blog, I have been given the opportunity to accompany researchers in Kenya and Zanzibar as they work towards the control and elimination of schistosomiasis.


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July 11, 2011

How grad school changed my life…by making me afraid to go outside

Welcome to the new blog! If you’d like to visit the old blog, which has previous work on my Hart County rural health beat, go ahead and give it a peek at

I’m going to start out by explaining how my first year of grad school has given me a now outlook on life, but also managed to make me afraid of EVERYTHING.

I will never go near a wild animal again no matter how “super cute” it is, I now see that birds are nature’s redheaded stepchildren and ridden with every disease you can imagine, and I will never swim in fresh water again. I’m just sayin. Dr. Yabs’ wildlife disease course managed to scare the desire to go outdoors out of me, but it was probably my favorite class all year.

Classes like that, those that made me thoughtful, angry and grossed out, convinced me that I found what I should have been doing all along. Before, health was all fitness and eating habits to me. Now, if you ask me about a disease there’s a good chance I’ll be able to give you an intelligent answer. I enjoy learning about the life cycles of a parasite, the number of people harmed in traffic accidents each year and the social reasons one person gets better access to health care than another.

So I’m going to continue learning about the nasty, the sobering and the hopeful parts of health and I honestly think I’ll be a better writer and person because of it.