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Kikanae Punyua ’11: A Vision for Maasai Welfare in Kenya

Scott Doughty, Middle School Latin Teacher
The Osiligi Medical Center, a planned building to house a pharmacy, medical lab, vision center, and dentist’s office, moved one step closer to reality in August, when David Weeks, director of global education and community service, and Dr. Tayo Awotunde, a Maryland pharmacist, traveled to Narok, Kenya to meet with Kikanae Punyua ’11 and a local contractor to discuss breaking ground.
 
The Osiligi Medical Center, a planned building to house a pharmacy, medical lab, vision center, and dentist’s office, moved one step closer to reality in August, when David Weeks, director of global education and community service, and Dr. Tayo Awotunde, a Maryland pharmacist, traveled to Narok, Kenya to meet with Kikanae Punyua ’11 and a local contractor to discuss breaking ground.
 
More than $30,000 has been raised toward construction of the 2400-square-foot facility, the second on a site that now hosts the Osiligi Medical Dispensary. The dispensary is the work of the Osiligi | Hope Foundation, founded by Kikanae in 2012 to promote education, health, and economic well-being in his community of 20,000 Maasai living in the Rift Valley near Ntulele. The foundation has been supported by Glenelg Country School and is a mission of the Saint John United Church in Columbia.  

The dispensary became operational in 2018, with support for staffing and medical equipment coming from a memo of understanding with the Narok Health Department. Full implementation has been delayed, but a local nurse has been regularly on site to attend to community health needs.

While in Kenya, Dr. Awotunde and Mr. Weeks, who acts as a project funder and U.S.-based mentor to Kikanae, participated in a community health fair at the dispensary to screen for blood sugar and blood pressure issues. They were joined by a team of health professionals provided by the health department, including a nurse, pharmacist, dietician, lab technician, and health counselor. Dr. Awotunde provided medications and medical supplies, while Mr. Weeks gave magnification eyeglasses to those in need.

Mr. Weeks, Dr. Awotunde, and Kikanae later met in the field with the contractor and his team of workers, who broke ground on the foundation for the new building. Once construction is complete, the sale of medications will help sustain the facility, which will distribute both traditional Maasai remedies and western medicines, and support the flourishing of traditional medicinal knowledge and plants in the area.

An estimated $35,000 is needed to complete construction and purchase pharmaceutical equipment, a dental chair, a vision chair, and related equipment.

When the two buildings are complete and fully operational, they will provide medical, dental, vision, and pharmaceutical services to a broad community. Plans are in the works for the next phase, housing for inpatient care and a third building to serve as a kitchen and living accommodations for a caretaker.

To support or find out more about this project, contact David C. Weeks, director of global education and community service, at weeks@glenelg.org.
 
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