Nairobi Center Stories: Mary Bennewitz, Barnard College

October 18, 2018

I am currently a senior at Barnard College, Columbia University. I am majoring in Ancient Studies and minoring in Biology, and I plan to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner, post-grad.

After studying abroad in Cairo for the spring semester, I decided to stay abroad to move to Nairobi for the summer! While in Kenya, I interned at the Columbia Global Center Nairobi in partnership with Dhiren Chandaria, CEO of InstaProducts, a Kenyan company recognized by UNICEF as a global supplier of ready-to-use nutritionally rich foods to fight global childhood malnutrition. Over my three months in Nairobi, I engaged in work related to InstaProduct’s mission of alleviating effects of childhood famine by working on InstaProducts midday feeding program at the Enkijape Primary School. I developed a detailed report on the Enkijape Primary School’s self-sustainability efforts for the school’s feeding program through working closely with teachers and school administrators to identify the main issues limiting their ability to deliver on the mission of self-sustainability. We also organized, with the help of Starkey Hearing Foundation, the donation, and fitting of hearing aids for all 23 students with hearing disabilities from the school in August 2018. The students are now receiving both auditory and speech training to help improve their hearing and communication abilities.

My internship in Kenya was an incredible experience and I am thankful to the CGC Nairobi and Dhiren Chandaria for this, and to Barnard College for funding my internship. I was also given the opportunity to explore Kenya, which was amazing in its own right. I climbed Mt. Kenya visited the Nairobi National Park, went on game drives in the Maasai Mara, and met the most incredible people. Overall, my time in Kenya was extremely memorable. I not only got to experience Kenya and its amazing culture (and eat a ton of ugali!) but it also gave me the opportunity to explore the global healthcare field. And for that, I am thankful, and I just cannot wait until I get to go back!