“We went in thinking we were going for the experience, but I was overwhelmed by the impact we actually made,” said Cadet Andy Davis, ’23. This June, Davis and a group of 22 student volunteers led by Health and Human Performance professor Dr. Sarah Imam traveled to the Mathare region of Nairobi, Kenya, where they offered health care services at a free medical camp. The trip was made possible by a generous gift from brothers David Swain, ’80, and his wife, Mary, and Dr. Chris Swain, ’81, and his wife, Debora.
“One of our patients,” said Davis, “had been infected with elephantiasis for 15 years. He let it go for so long because he couldn’t afford the treatment. We were able to diagnosis it and help him get the necessary medication.”
Patients lined up hours before the clinic opened, desperate to get a spot. There were so many people that some had to be turned away. “We just didn’t have the time or the resources to see everybody,” said Davis.
While the nursing majors practiced skills like administering injections, Davis, an exercise science major, treated wounds and worked in the lab under Imam, who was resuming the community service work she had begun last summer in the largest urban slum in Nairobi.
“By the end of the three weeks, one of my classmates was able to communicate without a translator. That was not the case for me,” said Davis, “but I did manage to learn around 30 words, mostly medical ones.” The patients didn’t speak much English but made a point of thanking The Citadel team.
“We worked hard during the week, and we saw some amazing things on the weekends. We went on a boat safari; that was my first time seeing hippos,” said Davis. The team also had an opportunity to pet an elephant and feed baby giraffes.
Participating students earned up to six credits during this study abroad trip, another way The Citadel teaches leadership by serving the global community. “Whether by providing medical care or funds for surgeries, this experience was a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to help people,” Davis said. He hopes to serve this way again before beginning medical school.