The CSU 2018 Kenya Dream Team Odyssey
Front, L to R: Maggie Hess, Michelle Haldeman, Dakota King-White, Stacey Litam
Back, L to R: David Paul, Kathryn MacCluskie, Eric King, Joshua Bagaka's, Michelle Mate
Dr. MacCluskie is taking a long-awaited sabbatical and working as a visiting scholar at KCA University (Kenya College of Accountancy) in Nairobi Kenya, at the invitation of Dr. Joshua Bagaka's, Emeritus Professor from CSU. Dr. Bagaka's is retired from Curriculum and Foundations in the College of Education and Human Services, and he now is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at KCA University. She is leading a team of CSU faculty and students in a broad-based effort to promote mental health and well-being in Kenya.
The nation of Kenya is one of the most advanced and rapidly developing of the African countries. Nevertheless, there is incredible impoverishment, and no public-based services for individuals with disabilities or mental health difficulties. Extreme poverty results in a range of serious social problems and human indignities. For example, the incidence of AIDs is among the highest in the world. In addition, Kenya has been identified by the World Health Organization as a "source country" for human trafficking. Small boys are sold, often for military purposes, while small girls are most often sold for the sex industry. Sometimes the children are actually sold by their parents, when human traffickers falsely promise them education and opportunity for those children. Outside the vast Nairobi slum areas, from which the children are taken, there are many villages and tribes, each their own community. Within the tribes, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a common practice, which often results in girls either bleeding to death or contracting AIDS. The FGM is a function of girls and women being kept obedient and submissive to men, and the incidence of domestic violence is extremely high. Although in the recent past, laws have been passed to protect women, a wide discrepancy continues to exist between the law and actual practice; for example, a husband slapping a wife is not considered to be abuse, but instead is thought of as "chastisement". (https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000153691/with-five-new-laws-to...)
One major reason for these conditions is the general economic landscape of the country, and the government, educational, and business leaders are working hard to create change. The Kenyan government is putting a great deal of money and resources into sponsoring students to obtain college degrees as part of their overall economic and academic advancement. In addition, a number of colleges and university "rescue" girls from the tribal communities before the procedure is done, by bringing the students to college for education and support, in an effort to stop the cycle.
The Dream Team has several broad objectives that are guiding their activities there. Dr. MacCluskie is working with Dr. Bagaka's and other university administrators to enhance and enrich their curriculum for a Bachelors of Arts in Counseling Psychology. Her goal is to help create an education platform for promotion of mental health and wellness for Kenyan citizens through professional training of mental health specialists in schools and communities. She is teaching an undergraduate course at KCA and is working in the Dispensary supervising the school counselor and seeing students and staff for counseling. She is also collaborating with Dr. King-White and Dr. Litam on training K-12 teachers and school personnel in basic listening skills to reduce the incidence of school violence and promote academic success for children. Another aspect of the research and intervention will incorporate a trauma-informed practices in schools.
Dr. King-White has done extensive research in K-12 schools in developing mental health models to support students academically, socially, and emotionally with an emphasis on trauma-informed schools. This aspect will be incorporated in the research in K-12 schools in Kenya. A part of the research will be to design and disseminate a needs assessment for the teachers and students to assess the needs in developing programming to better serve the students. Dr. King-White is a 2017-2018 Educational Policy Fellow and will review current educational policies in Kenya to inform decisions of the group while designing programming to address the educational gaps in the K-12 system.
Yet another central aspect of the research focuses on domestic violence, AIDS, and human trafficking, all of which are intertwined. Dr. Litam's goals include examining the concept and value of gender equity to decrease rates of intimate partner violence in Nairobi, community education about HIV/AIDS to decrease rates of transmission and promote safer sex practices, and investigating awareness about the concept, rates, and warning signs associated with human sex trafficking to decrease rates of and promote awareness.
Dr. Michelle Haldeman is participating as a Dream Team member on a sponsorship from University Hospitals. She is a Podiatric Resident at University Hospital, and her objectives involve community health and health education. She will be working with clinics in Nairobi toward that end.
Our Counseling students, Maggie, Michelle, Eric, are heavily involved in all aspects of these efforts, ranging from participating in meetings to helping present to faculty and students and collecting data. They will be gaining valuable experience about bridging gaps culturally and educationally to help people in need create better lives for themselves. Maggie and Michelle will be presenting some of their results at the National Association for Humanistic Counseling Conference in May.
David Paul, of David Paul Photography, is the documentarian and official photographer of this trip. He will be capturing images and moments that exemplify the nature of the team's work.
These projects by definition involve a long-term, on-going working relationship with a variety of Kenyan educators, administrators, and community leaders. Beyond this on-going work, one other very important and final goal for Dr. MacCluskie is to create a multicultural counseling externship program for CSU Counselor Education students who are seeking a cultural immersion experience by going to Nairobi and KCA to offer service. It is her intention that there be future opportunities for many more CSU students who wish to be involved in these projects.