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Indiana University

An introduction and itinerary

Beginning this weekend, a delegation from Indiana University, led by IU President Michael A. McRobbie and including yours truly, will embark on a two-week trip to sub-Saharan Africa, including stops in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.

I’m honored and excited to be part of the trip — the first by a sitting IU president to Africa in more than two decades — a trip that will expand IU’s educational reach internationally; establish new study abroad opportunities for IU students; and initiate new faculty research collaborations that, in many cases, will address some of our world’s most pressing challenges.

Last week, President McRobbie spoke with “Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick” about the upcoming trip and how it reflects IU’s mission of increasing the university’s engagement internationally, including strengthening the global competencies of IU students.

As McRobbie mentions in the interview, central to the trip will be an opportunity for members of the IU delegation to experience, first-hand, the remarkable impact of the groundbreaking IU-Moi University AMPATH partnership in Kenya.

Since its inception in 1989, AMPATH, which stands for the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare, has grown into one of the largest, most comprehensive public health efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. Nominated multiple times for the Nobel Peace Prize, the program serves a population of 3.5 million people in over 500 urban and rural clinical sites throughout western Kenya, and has enrolled more than 160,000 HIV-positive people.

Those are staggering numbers in themselves. But AMPATH has also broadened its mission in recent years to include helping to feed 31,000 HIV-affected people daily; providing school fees, nutrition and other assistance for over 20,000 children left orphaned or vulnerable because of HIV/AIDS; and enrolling 10,000-plus patients in income security programs, including agricultural extension services, micro-finance and small-business initiatives.

“One can read statistics about how the program serves and benefits 3.5 million people in western Kenya; but it’s another thing to see it with one’s own eyes,” says Bob Einterz, executive director of the AMPATH consortium and director of the IU Center for Global Health. “Every year, IU students and faculty returning from Kenya describe their work there as one of the most transformative experiences of their careers.”

Here’s Einterz, one of the numerous faculty and staff members with whom members of the IU delegation will meet while in Eldoret, Kenya, delivering a TEDx talk about the genesis and impact of AMPATH:

I have never been to Africa. But in the days and weeks leading up to the trip I have been immersed in learning about AMPATH, as well as IU’s numerous other connections to sub-Saharan Africa — connections that date back several decades, involve many alumni and span a wide range of academic fields — from applied health science and medicine to business, the fine arts, geological sciences, journalism, languages, law, politics and more.

Those connections will almost certainly grow — and new partnerships will form — as the delegation meets with officials at several of the region’s top universities, including, in South Africa, the University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria and University of the Western Cape, as well as at Moi University in Kenya and at the University of Ghana.

Please check in frequently, follow along and feel free to comment as I share news, insights and experiences from a sure-to-be productive, enlightening and inspiring trip.

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