By Lucila Decia, Video Editor
Representatives of Hardin Simmons University traveled to Kenya during the first week of Februaryto create long term partnerships with the schools and hospitals in the area. The main objective of the trip was to explore the possibility of missionary and educational trips to the region.
The contingent included members from the Office of Global Engagement, Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing and the Physician Assistant Program. The group traveled to Africa hoping to discover new opportunities for students and faculty of HSU. They spent a week overseas, visiting the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, four hospitals and a local university.They also had the opportunity to get a broader insight of the medical field in the area when they visiting the local Ministry of Health.
Kisemei Kupe, a Kenyan graduate student from Logsdon Seminary, served as a major influence for the partnership between the community of Kenya and Hardin-Simmons University. His passion for helping his hometown was a determining factor to make the first mission trip happen in July 2019.
“We are inspired to aspire. Hardin-Simmons Physician Assistant Program and School of Nursing discovering how God has blessed HSU with many gifts and talent to aspire those without hope and medical privileges made a discovery trip to Kenya to prepare for the 2021 mission and medical trip. As Billy Graham once said, ‘God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with,’” Kupe said.
“Apart from building relationships and connecting with partners, the discovering trip had many benefits for HSU. It helps the professors to familiarize themselves with the country they are planning to visit with students, and what is the right way to do mission and where. Also, it helps us make the right and wise decision on how long we need for the actual trip and be able to prepare their students by answering all the questions they have as they prepare for a lifetime experience with new country and culture,” Kupe said.
Faculty and staff of HSU expressed their fascination with the breathtaking wildlife of Kenya and the warm, welcoming and kind people who received them with their hearts wide open.
Dr. Jennifer Eames, director of the Physician Assistant Program and associate professor of Physician Assistant Studies, shared her thoughts on the experience.
“It was an amazing experience to see through my own eyes how different the cultural norms were in Kenya. Encounters are more formal and relationship based. I was impressed at the excellence of their government system, something that we lack in the U.S. But their resources are limited, that is where we try to help.” Dr. Eames said.
“Their health services are free, so we want to provide aid. I think everyone who went on the trip had their eyes open and we definitely got to see what it is to be part of a minority,” Eames said.
Today, relationships keep growing and HSU is expecting to provide more opportunities for mission and educational trips for the students and faculty in May 2021.