Global Health Service Partnership Volunteer Returns to Africa to Empower Communities and Improve Health in Tanzania

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WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2015 – Washington, D.C. resident Eunice Kimunai recently returned from Tanzania after working for a year as a nurse and health educator with the Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP), an innovative collaboration between the Peace Corps, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the non-profit Seed Global Health. Kimunai’s perspectives on service and experiences in Tanzania were different from her fellow GHSP volunteers though as she was born and raised in Kenya.

“I fall in the category of African Diaspora who moved to the U.S. in the last 20 years,” Kimunai said. “This is the group that immigrated outside the continent for many reasons; in my case, to acquire college education and explore more opportunities, which could be brought back to Africa.”

After earning a doctorate in public health from Walden University and gaining experience in both clinical and non-clinical settings, Kimunai applied to the GHSP program. She was accepted and invited to serve as a nurse educator in Tanzania.

“The idea of returning to Africa to volunteer for one year was very exciting for me. I knew that my journey would be slightly different from my colleagues because I spoke the language and understood the culture. I felt I had an advantage.”

Kimunai soon found herself doing rounds as a nurse and teaching nursing students at a local Tanzanian health center. Her familiarity with the culture and knowledge of topics often overlooked in health education, such as the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, allowed Kimunai to build trust in the classroom and empower her students to seek answers to tough questions.

“In this culture there is clear distinction between students and teachers, and my cultural heritage allowed me to break down that wall,” Kimunai said. “In Tanzania, many doctors leave the country to practice or work for NGOs instead of hospitals where they could provide direct patient care. I am hoping that my work in Tanzania helped inspire my students to stay in their country and be agents of change.”

The Global Health Service Partnership program presents an opportunity for American physicians and nurses to make a tangible difference in communities abroad by addressing the known shortage of skilled physicians, nurses and clinical faculty in resource-limited countries. The program is currently accepting applications from physicians and nurses interested in serving as healthcare educators in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda starting summer 2016.

About the Peace Corps:  The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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