STEP Story: Jennifer Robinson











Medical Student, University of Colorado

Kisumu, June-July 2018

Getting off the airplane in Kisumu, Kenya, I had no idea what to expect.  I had been planning this trip for months and was still in shock that the day had finally come.  Doing pediatric research had been a dream of mine for quite some time, as had going to Africa.  As a soon-to-be second-year medical student, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to not only be a medical student in the first place, but to be traveling to Kenya to do research that would hopefully give back to the local population.     

Once I got settled in, I ventured into my Tuk Tuk to begin work at the FACES Millimani office. I was greeted and welcomed by Lilian, before going to meet my mentor at one of the nearby hospitals.  My mentor, Nicol, is a warm, knowledgeable, and charismatic woman who seemed adored by everyone.  I felt at ease and was excited to work with her on my project.

I worked in Kisumu for 6 weeks.  My work began in the Millimani office, where I learned how to design a data collection tool, how to greet the office members in Swahili, and how to eat chapatti without making a gigantic mess. All of these were important for my personal and professional development.  While I gained experience in research and data collection, I also fulfilled my yearning to learn about a new culture and meet many wonderful people.         

Once my tool was complete, it was time to put it to work.  I began shadowing and pulling files at the Lumumba clinic.  Guided by mentors there, I was able to complete a large amount of work in what felt like a very short amount of time.  Everybody at the clinic was so welcoming and helpful.  They were interested to see how my project went, and hoped that it could benefit their patients (as do I). 

Time is a funny thing. My time in Kenya was spent surrounded by wonderful people.  I got to know the office and the people in it, and when it was time to leave, I almost felt as though I had just arrived.  I am incredibly grateful for the experience, and the value FACES has as an organization between the Kenyan communities and the students that want to serve them.