Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Alumna Receives Fellowship to Strengthen Kenya Community

by Melissa Brooks

Kate Armstrong ’14 was recently accepted into a fellowship program with Mama Hope, a nonprofit that aims to strengthen communities in developing countries. Armstrong credits the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies program (BAIS) with leading her to the fellowship.

“The knowledge I gained from required BAIS courses led me to seek out organizations as sustainable and considerate as Mama Hope,” she said.

Armstrong asked her previous professors if they knew of any global development programs that would allow her to explore the public health field. Professor Luis Enrique Bazan referred her to Mama Hope. Using the knowledge she gained from International Studies about global development, social justice, and sustainable initiatives, she applied to Mama Hope’s fellowship program and was accepted. Armstrong was thrilled when she found out.

I am getting the chance to help prevent disease while empowering children, who already want to accomplish great things for this world.

Mama Hope’s mission is to lift communities out of poverty by creating sustainable projects using local resources. One way it does this is through its Global Advocate Fellowship program — the program Armstrong was accepted into. The program provides professional job training for entrepreneurs like Armstrong who are inspired by Mama Hope’s mission and partners them with local experts and organizations. Together, they fund and build sustainable community-improvement projects.

As a Global Advocate, Armstrong will travel to Njabini, Kenya in June 2016 to work with Mama Hope’s partner, the Flying Kites Orphanage and School, which has been providing shelter, food, and education for Kenya’s most vulnerable and critically poor children since 2007.

Armstrong will create a public health and sexual education curriculum with the guidance of the school’s staff and students as well as local public health groups. The curriculum aims to educate students about consensual practices and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Ultimately, Armstrong will help provide the Flying Kites Orphanage and School’s teachers with all of the materials they need to instruct students at each stage of life. Armstrong said:

My BAIS thesis challenged me to consider collaborative approaches to current public health systems. This holistic perspective was why I have been given the responsibility to create a public health and sexual education curriculum for one of Mama Hope’s partners.

In addition to creating this curriculum, Armstrong will assist an architect with the construction of a much-needed kitchen for the school, where students as well as staff will be able to receive three nutritious meals per day.

“With nutritious [food] being more accessible, staff will not have to exhaust resources to ensure the children are properly fed,” she said. “A balanced diet is vital for health and can provide the children more energy to engage with their studies and passions.”

As part of the fellowship, Armstrong has committed to fundraising $20,000, which will go directly to her project with the Flying Kites Orphanage and School. Follow the program’s progress on Facebook or on Kate’s blog.