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Indiana University

The IU-Moi impact

Members of the IU delegation barely had time to process all of the amazing work they had seen and heard about at the AMPATH Center here in Eldoret, Kenya, when they were shuttled off early this morning for a visit to IU’s co-founding partner in the path-breaking project, Moi University.

Yesterday’s tour of the AMPATH Center and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital had been far more enlightening, uplifting and inspiring than could ever have been imagined before the delegation’s arrival in Kenya. And yet the day, which included an overview of the program, visits to more than a dozen medical wards, clinical sites and other hospital units, and informational sessions with numerous key physicians and staff, had also been exhausting, emotionally draining and, at times, extremely sobering, despite all of the program’s well-documented successes.

Still, the spirit of the AMPATH staff was so great, and their dedication to saving the lives of Kenyans so overwhelming, that it kept us energized entering the gates of Moi University, where we were greeted by a rousing performance by the Moi University Choir, which has won numerous choir awards in Africa and has performed at many university and state functions.

After IU President Michael A. McRobbie thanked the group for its warm musical welcome, he and other members of the delegation were introduced to Moi’s senior management team, led by Vice Chancellor Richard Kiprono Mibey, who was delighted to receive his guests and even more thrilled to express his appreciation for IU and what it has done to develop Moi University.

Moi University started in 1984 as Kenya’s second public university with a first class of 83 students and just one faculty member. Today, it has more than 30,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students and four campuses, including the main campus in Eldoret and another in the western part of the town. Moi also boasts 14 schools, including newly established schools of aerospace science, biological and physical science, and tourism, hospitality and event management.

Among its more established units are the Schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Medicine, which, as Vice Chancellor Mibey and other Moi leaders were quick to point out, would not have been possible without the support of IU. As a result of the AMPATH project, which began in the late 1980s as a way to initiate collaborative activities between IU and Moi, these schools have partnered with IU on a number of service learning and faculty exchange programs that have helped them grow into some of the best academic programs in Kenya. Take the School of Dentistry, for example. Moi attempted to launch the school in 1998 but was unsuccessful. As the IU-Moi partnership continued to grow, though, the school was re-launched, this time successfully. Today, more than 34 million Kenyans rely on the dentistry services connected to Moi, according to Vice Chancellor Mibey.

Additionally, as AMPATH has expanded its model of care beyond the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS to inextricably linked areas critical to Kenyans’ survival, including food and income security and non-communicable chronic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer, Moi’s academic resources have become even more essential to enhancing in a major way the research enterprise at the AMPATH Center and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

IU President Michael McRobbie presents the International Service Award to Moi University Vice Chancellor Richard Kiprono Mibey.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie presents the International Service Award to Moi University Vice Chancellor Richard Kiprono Mibey.

To ensure the continued impact of this decades-long collaboration, IU President McRobbie and Vice Chancellor Mibey signed a new IU-Moi partnership agreement that will fully elevate IU’s relationship with Moi to a larger university level. Additionally, the two leaders inked a sub-agreement between the IU School of Journalism and the Moi Department of Communications, a program that has experienced major growth in correlation with one of Kenya’s fastest-growing industries, mass media. Today, Kenya has several major newspapers and TV networks that are seeking skilled media professionals who can report on complicated national, including democratic politics and business, for a population of more than 40 million people who are increasingly connected through massive cell phone usage.

The agreement between the IU School of Journalism and the Moi Department of Communications will build upon an immersive student reporting project in Kenya established several years ago by IU professor Jim Kelly. In each of the past three years, Kelly has brought a group of 12 IU students to Eldoret to report on AMPATH’s HIV/AIDS treatment and other health care efforts and learn about Kenyan culture by partnering with Moi students. The IU students who traveled to Kenya in June published their reporting online at a special website devoted to the project.

On the Moi side, more than 40 of Kenya’s leading media personalities have come through the university, say school leaders, who are also building their own TV station, as part of Kenya’s national platform, to serve as training ground for new journalists.

After the agreement signings, there was just one more ceremonial matter of business: a surprise presentation by McRobbie of the prestigious International Service Award to Vice Chancellor Mibey for his outstanding contributions to advance the mission of IU through its expanding partnership with Moi. Then it was off to one of Moi’s newest and most promising projects: a large, fully functioning facility engaged in the production of textile products. In the late 1980s, all of Kenya’s textile factories shut down — more than 40 in total — leaving thousands without jobs. Today, Moi leadership hopes that the Rivatex East African Limited facility will provide the necessary training, research and product development to revive one of the country’s oldest industries.

The facility was a most impressive site and another example of the major impact Moi has had — and will continue to have — in Kenya in the years to come and with IU standing by its side.

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