Building on 30 years of collaboration in Kenya

By Dustin Dehne

A Michigan college’s collaboration with colleges in Kenya provides a unique learning opportunity for students, staff and faculty.

When a Delta College team of current and retired faculty, students and alumni travels from Michigan to Kenya in May, it will continue a 30-year tradition of collaboration with medical and educational institutions in the African nation. This journey will provide a larger variety of services than any previous trip by a Delta group.

Among the planned activities on the May 4–20 expedition are a three-day medical camp in the remote village of Haji, which the Delta group visited for the first time last year, and a two-day camp in the slum area of Nakuru.

“We had some really cool cases in the medical camp in 2018,” said Delta Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Professor Christopher Hausbeck. “One lady, who was 100 years old, walked three miles just to come see us.”

The partnership that Delta has with Kenya began in 1989 when Delta entered into an international agreement with Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology (RVIST) in Nakuru, Kenya, creating a sister college alliance. Since, Delta has entered into a similar agreement in with Tracom College in Nakuru and, in 2016, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa College (PCEA). Together, Delta and the three institutions work with and assist one another to achieve shared goals and outcomes through knowledge sharing, faculty, staff and student learning, as well as an exchange of materials, art and technologies and community education.

Delta is continually striving to improve conditions in Haji, an Internationally Displaced Persons (IDP) community. At the building holding the medical camp, as well as the library established by Delta, the team plans to continue work being done to install more secure windows, obtain more books, improve internet connections and complete a $20,000 water project to pump water from a natural spring to the building and the community.

This year’s team members are looking forward to building on the work of those who have gone before.

“The trip is total immersion with very rewarding work and such great people,” Kelli Prena, a nursing professor, said. “I have been to Kenya 10 times, and every time is special. We live within that culture versus looking at the culture from the outside.”

Partnerships like these with institutions overseas give students and faculty unique and exciting learning opportunities, along with the chance to explore the planet, help others and study abroad.

“I loved the trip,” said Abigail Brown, a PTA student and member of last year’s expedition. “I brought back so many great experiences, not only hands-on experiences that I can use in the future, but I had so much fun and met new people. It was humbling, and being able to see so many different things, apart from helping with the clinic, made it a very well-rounded and great experience.”

Dustin Dehne

works in the marketing and public information office at Delta College in University Center, Michigan.