Rebecca Davis ’15
Over the summer biology students Meaghan Flatley ’15 and Monica Anis ’15 joined Siena graduate Alexander Goncalves ’14 for a service trip to Kenya. They spent six weeks working at the Marigat Catholic Mission as part of the Siena College/Albany Medical College joint acceptance program’s summer of service.
Throughout their time in the African country, Flatley, Anis and Goncalves visited villages and schools with five Franciscan sisters. The poverty they witnessed made these Siena students eager to enact positive change. They are now working with the Social Work department to raise money that will improve education and medical conditions for the area.
“What I found incredibly meaningful about this trip was visiting what was basically a refugee camp for the Turkana tribespeople,” Flatley said. “They are highly stigmatized in the region and have been forced off their land by war and a corrupt government.”
Turkana children in Kenya are often left uneducated while their parents struggle to provide for their families, most earning less than two dollars per day. The service trip team visited the Alice Ingham Primary School, which was created just for the Turkana students. Once there, they learned that many of the students were orphans who were going the entire 12 hour school day without food.
The Siena group also visited a mobile medical clinic run by a woman named Sr. Veronica, who drove around with sparse medical supplies, trying to help the area’s ill and examine pregnant women in a region that is desperate for a maternity ward. That need became evident when the service students met a baby who had recently been born on a classroom table.
After seeing what the Marigat Catholic Mission needed and how far dollars can be stretched there, the students decided to establish an online fundraiser. It seeks to give Kenyan students at the Alice Ingham Primary School a daily lunch and pay for their school and exam fees. They also hope to provide the mobile clinic with supplies and medicine and finance a one-room maternity ward.
Flatley has developed admiration for the sisters who work for the Marigat Catholic Mission and for the Turkana people and she hopes to return to the area.
“Just by shadowing at the medical clinic, I learned a lot. It helped me to identify what their needs were and showed me that we could make a big difference in peoples’ lives,” Flatley said. “It also reaffirmed my decision to become a doctor. There is still so much to be done.”
The students are currently accepting donations through their fundraising website. On the site, they have pictures of their trip and a brief description of exactly what the money will support.