Meet a biotechnician: Watipa scholar from South Africa

“I would like to use my education to find affordable medicine so that the people with minimal socio-economic resources in my community can afford to be healthy.”

I am a 2017 Watipa scholar, and an undergraduate studying Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

I’m very fascinated by cells, how they function and the human body. After doing research on what path of study I should follow I came across a very interesting field of study : biotechnology. A course of science that uses living systems to produce medicine, products, etc that help to make people and animals lives better. And this is what I want to one day, to help the world.

The more I learn at university the more I gain insight about science and the developing world. And by this I can educate the young and old in my community, especially young people who do drugs and alcohol, to help them live a healthy lifestyle. My studies will help me to teach the children and grown-ups alike in my community about diseases, how to prevent them from getting infected, how these diseases can be treated, and how to keep people healthy.

I want to be successful at university and study diligently to hone my understanding on cells and the human body. I hope that one day, when I get my degree in Biotechnology, to pursue a career as an immunologist. I would like to work alongside the brightest minds in microbiology and virology to learn from them and help contribute to find cures for deadly diseases – I want to focus on finding cures for diseases that affect millions of people globally and thousands in my community.

I want to help save babies, children, and adults who have been dealt a bad hand in life and are unable to defend themselves against brutal sicknesses by finding affordable medicine so that the people with minimal socio-economic resources in my community can afford to be healthy. This is what I hope to one day be able to give back to my community. I also dream that one day I will create a novel drug that will cure HIV.

 Watipa scholar and young man aged 20, South Africa

Meet a scholar: Aisha Bukenya, Uganda

fullsizeoutput_3866.jpeg“I hope that one day I’ll be able to give back to my community through provision of world class healthcare.”

Meet Aisha Bukenya, a 2016 Watipa scholar, studying a Bachelor’s of Pharmacy at Kampala International University Western Campus. She has recently completed her exams for the year and is attending ward rounds as part of her program. 

I am Aisha Bukenya, and I am pursuing a bachelors degree in pharmacy in my final semester of study. I chose this path of study because the health system in my country and in Africa as a whole has always broken my heart. I feel that there is a lot more that we can do. Continue reading “Meet a scholar: Aisha Bukenya, Uganda”

Medical Outreach Mission: #MOM’s the word for community care of the elderly in Lilongwe, Malawi

fullsizeoutput_386d“We don’t have to be rich to help someone out here.  My hope is that more people will be inspired to do the same for their community.”

Josephine Kondowe, Watipa Scholar, Malawi

Malawi has less than one physician for every 54,000 citizens and has a healthcare budget of only $77 per person per year.  The country also faces great challenges in terms of the response to diseases such as HIV, Malaria and tuberculosis, as well as ongoing concerns relating to nutrition and food insecurity.

As the name itself hints, Medical Outreach Mission (MOM) is an organisation that works through the Church to care and provide for people in need, particularly the sick and the elderly.

We reach out to people in their most difficult and challenging times to let them know that they are not alone, and that they are loved. So, it if happens that they are sick and can’t afford some medication, we buy the medication for them. If they don’t have clothes, we gather clothes for them. If they have no food, then we help them with that as well! The help we provide may not be long-term but at least with the little we do we change peoples mind and hearts.

With our actions we tell them that love exists. We know that for us to share the will of God, we don’t have to always carry our bibles, we can simple carry love.

On April 14th, we help our word by reaching out to twelve elderly people at Kauma village in Lilongwe, Malawi. There we gave away vital items such as soap tablets, over a kilogram of sugar, a further kilogram of salt, candles and match sticks. At this initial visit we unfortunately didn’t have enough information on their medical records in order to buy them the medication that they required. However, next time we can proceed on this front too. Some of these elderly people were sick and more generally were living with challenges that come with old age.

It was simply amazing to see how people were moved with the little things we gave them. This then encouraged us – we don’t have to be rich to help someone out here.  My hope is that more people will be inspired to do the same for their community.

Let’s reach out and spread the love. #MOM.

           Josephine Kondowe, Watipa Scholar 2017 and young woman aged 21, Malawi, with editorial support from Sam Mudie

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Meet a team member: Dr Sam Mudie

fullsizeoutput_3862Dr Sam Mudie joined the Watipa team on 1 June 2018. Welcome Sam!

“Working with such a collection of strong, hardworking and brilliant women is a privilege. I was intrigued by the diversity and range of backgrounds of these ladies, all working towards a shared ideology of a better planet, and the right to education for all… I am thrilled to be working with Watipa. The unique model of social enterprise, consulting and provision of education to those less fortunate, is fascinating. I can’t wait to put the skills and knowledge I have built up to great use with Watipa.”

Sam has recently joined the team as the Outreach Officer, where her chief responsibilities are managing the website content, blogs, newsletters and social media pages. Continue reading “Meet a team member: Dr Sam Mudie”

Meet a scholar: Rose Omollo, Kenya

fullsizeoutput_384e“To me the sky is not the limit and I see a bright future ahead of me. I want to be the agent of those changes that I want to see in my community.”

Meet Rose Omollo, a 2016 Watipa scholar, studying Community Health and Development at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, in Kenya. Continue reading “Meet a scholar: Rose Omollo, Kenya”

Meet a team member: Kristen de Graaf

Version 2Kristen de Graaf joined the Watipa team on 1 June 2018. Welcome Kristen!

Kristen joins us part-time as the new Executive Officer at Watipa. She is from Canada and has recently relocated to London. Having started her career as a registered nurse she moved to the public health and development sector and pursued a masters of reproductive and sexual health research to fulfill her passion to link health with policy, research and advocacy. Continue reading “Meet a team member: Kristen de Graaf”

“You’re only a good activist if you are alive and well”

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Outreach workers often face risks to their personal safety and security when providing much needed services to marginalised of hard-to-reach communities. They often do so on a voluntary basis or for a relatively small payment compared to international aid workers who operating in the same area. The potential threats and experiences of violence are particularly acute when the organisations are run by and for communities that are criminalised under the legal framework of a particular country. These communities are in need of important health and other essential services, just like everyone. In fact, may need more services given the vulnerabilities and risks they face in everyday life.  Continue reading ““You’re only a good activist if you are alive and well””

Stigma, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

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Reducing stigma and discrimination has been at the forefront of Jamaica’s national response to HIV for several years. One week ago today, in Kingston Jamaica, we presented some recommendations for how the capacity of healthcare workers could be improved so that stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with and vulnerable to HIV are reduced at point of care.

Stigma – like beauty – is in the eye of the beholder. Change starts with each one of us, knowing and being honest about our beliefs, prejudices, and morals. A training to address stigma among healthcare workers for example must be transformative – to tap into personal beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours that are the drivers of stigma. In other words training must not be ‘business as usual’ and in fact have a ‘sparkle’ that can engage the hearts as well as the minds of participants.

Continue reading “Stigma, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder”

HIV Science: IAS 2017

thumb_logo_2It’s been an extraordinary week for HIV science. An extraordinary week for the HIV response. The 9th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017) in Paris has come to an end, with nearly 8,000 researchers, advocates, policy makers, funders and community leaders from more than 140 countries.

Here’s a quick summary of the headlines from the conference, according to the International AIDS Society…

Continue reading “HIV Science: IAS 2017”

Want to reduce stigma? Move a building!

IMG_8402 copyConstruction, urban planning and stigma reduction to ensure access to medicine for people living with HIV are not obviously linked. Yet in one part of South Sudan, space and the layout of buildings may in fact be key for enabling more people to test and receive the life saving treatment they need if diagnosed positive for HIV.

I listened today to a healthcare worker talk about the sites where a potential client at his facility – in one of the regions of South Sudan – may experience stigma or discrimination during a typical journey to test for HIV.  Continue reading “Want to reduce stigma? Move a building!”