students gain medical work experience in Kenya

Friday August 16, 2019

A group comprising of 20 students and four staff from Concord has completed an inspiring two week ‘Medicamp’ in Kenya. The visit provided opportunities for the Sixth Form students to gain medical work experience and participate in a community development aid programme. The trip was planned as part of the college’s Medicine Support Programme and the majority of students who participated are applying to medical and dental schools this autumn. The aid programme was developed with the Moving Mountains Trust, a non-governmental organisation active in the rural town of Embu for over 20 years. As a regular provider of medical electives for practicing doctors, the programme was a ‘first’ for school age students. The local knowledge and links allowed the group to gain valuable experience in a range of local hospitals, obtaining insights into both the public and private healthcare systems in Kenya. As Mr Barry Brown, one of the group’s teachers and Concord’s Head of Science explained: “Students were able to observe a range of operations, including the removal of gall bladders, tumours and ovarian cysts, described by one as a ‘really unforgettable experience.’ “They also learned about the impact of AIDS, spending time in a HIV treatment centre within a hospital and also visiting an orphanage run by the charity for HIV positive children. “The group were visibly moved by what they saw and the plight of such young children made a deep impact on them.  As a result, many of the Concord students have expressed an interest in returning when they have finished their A levels next year. “They would like to go back and support the work of the charity at the orphanage as well as spending time with the children.” Mr Brown added that Moving Mountains Trust also works closely with local primary schools and has set up a centre for street children. During the first week of the trip, the Concord students took part in community health clinics delivered both in situ at the schools and also at the centre. This involved distributing vitamin tablets, checking for ringworm, malnutrition and other common ailments. “They were able to observe the work of local medical officers and nurses in treatment tungiasis which, at times, involved the removal of jiggers or sand flees from children’s feet and hands. “The group were both humbled and upset to see these parasites being cut out of the feet of youngsters without surgical anaesthesia. This debilitating infestation can lead to social isolation and makes it very hard for the children walk to school. “The students were able to gain valuable insights into the links between community health and education.” The group also planned and delivered lessons on dental health and hygiene to all the children of two primary schools. Funds totalling over £8,000, which they had raised before the trip, contributed to providing every child with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Mr Brown said: “In addition, funding a school typhoid vaccination programme, payment for the time of medical officers, food drops for families in the local slums and a nursery school and the construction of toilets for a school and also the rescue centre. “Concord students were actively involved in the building projects, working alongside street children to dig foundations, clear rubble and paint rooms. “Many friendships were struck up with the children from local slums and the whole group enjoyed a trek to a local waterfall where they all worked together to make the ascent. “For many Concord students this has been an eye-opening and life-changing experience, embedding in them a deep understanding of the value of the role of NGO’s as well as the role of public health on prosperity in Kenya. “Many of the students have promised to return to do more voluntary work in the future. Moreover, as a group of leaders, we are keen to return in 2021 and help to develop the orphanage as well as raising money.” Anyone interested in supporting the charity can contact To read extracts of the students’ reflective Kenya journal, click here. To view the trip photo gallery, click here.