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PANAFRICAN CYCLE PROJECT

ISMAT (International School of Medicine   and Applied Technology)

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(Hannah)
You can’t really talk about ISMAT without also describing the man behind it all. Jack Osiro was our first and has stayed our main contact during this adventure and fundraising process. We initially contacted him after hearing about his medical college through a work colleague back in England. We’d been looking for a way to make a sustainable improvement to healthcare in Africa, and health education seemed to tick all the right boxes. What better than a medical college that also supports those students who couldn’t otherwise afford higher education? Furthermore, we saw a fair rationale in the fact that they were training clinical officers rather than doctors. Doctors are expensive, few, and tend to seek greener pastures once they graduate. Clinical officers are not doctors, but the range of services they can offer is decent (most of what a doctor offers, but only some
– minor - surgical procedures) , they are cheaper to
train, easier to keep within the country, and are an
efficacious response to the country’s most immediate
healthcare needs. For these reasons, we were feeling
very positive when we got our first (excited) response
back from Jack. Since then, he has been one of our
most dedicated followers on the website and our most
frequent commenter (BTW guys, we love getting your
comments, please continue!). When we texted him from
the hill above Kisumu as our arrival was delayed by a
puncture, his reply was: “well done guys – you are
almost home”. It set the theme for the week.

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Jack lives with his wife, their three children, and
three other children. These have all been orphaned by
relatives of his, and once lived in his mother’s rural
home, but he’d brought to the city for a better
education, a better chance at life. During our stay,
the couple took in a fourth child: a boy we’d visited
in his mother’s village whose leg had a serious case of osteomyelitis, for which his own sick mother simply couldn’t afford to get medical help. We offered to pay for his treatment, but that meant he’d have to be in the city, perhaps up to six months. Jack did not even hesitate to take him in.

Jack was lucky. He came from a poor family but they helped him achieve higher education; he studied project management. When he graduated, there were no jobs, so in 2006 he used what he’d learnt to create his own project: International School of Medicine and Applied Technology. Since that day, it has blossomed into a comprehensive college that offers courses in Community Health Work, Social Work, IT, Biotechnology, Business Management, and Clinical Medicine. Improvements are continuously being made. Government officials have recently visited and, satisfied with what they have seen, have granted the college the power to deliver its own diplomas and certificates, rather than having to collaborate with other universities for final exams as they initially did. A new, modern campus is under construction in a beautiful setting in the hills above the city, to be dedicated to the training of clinical officers (first admissions this May). We helped supply some of the books thanks to donations from the Medical Protection Society in the UK. Hopefully we can continue to provide useful learning tools and other equipments with the help of your own donations.

  Financing their education is a major problem for
  students in Kenya. Many families cannot even send their
  children to secondary school, which, unlike primary
  school, is not free. The main cause of drop out in
  college is lack of money. Here, to train a clinical
  officer costs 125 000 Kenyan shillings per year,
  equivalent to 1500 USD or 1000 pounds sterling. Medical
  school costs 500 000 Kenyan shillings per year, or 6000
  USD and 4000 pounds. Thanks to ISMAT’s collaboration
  with the OGRA foundation, ten Clinical Medicine students
  at a time benefit from reduced (to half) fees, or in
  some extreme cases, they don’t pay anything. To keep
  costs down in these yet early days, the 24 doctors and
  other lecturers at the school have accepted to teach on
  a reduced salary. There is a huge demand for schools
  like this one in Kenya, and once the new Clinical
  Medicine campus is up and running, students should flow
  in and profitability should also increase. Meanwhile...
  in the city campus where I am now writing, the
  lecturers’ teaching voices are heard across the
  courtyard and the sound is one of hope.

Facts and figures about ISMAT:
- The first graduation was in 2009, when 35 students successfully graduated. In 2010, a further 22 graduated.
- The school teaches to certificate (1 year), diploma (2 years to 3years), and BSc level (4 years)
- There are currently 153 students enrolled at the college.
- 35 students are currently on attachment in district and sub-district hospitals, and 30 in rural community centres.
- There are 22 lecturers, including medical doctors, PhD doctors, and masters and diploma holders
- The IT lab comprises 15 computers (donated) – but no internet yet
- The city campus has 6 lecture rooms
- The new rural campus has 4 furnished classrooms, one skills lab (still awaiting full equipment), one library which can accommodate 30 students, and the construction of student dorms is planned for the future.

College needs:
- Textbooks
- Internet for computer lab (purchase of router, plus monthly fees)
- Equipment for new skills lab: anatomical models, mannequins, sound tutors, etc
- Research lab tools such as camera, video camera, laptop
- Presentation tools such as LCD projectors
- Xerox machine for printing and photocopying
- Construction of more classrooms and of student dorms at rural campus
- Sponsoring students who can’t afford to pay their studies through scholarships
- Support in paying some staff’s salaries as the school is still growing (until “ends meet”)
- College vehicle

To find out more about ISMAT, please visit:
www.ismatkenya.org

To donate to ISMAT through WASOT-UK (their sister charity in the UK), please go to : www.justgiving.com/panafricancycle
 

Photos of ISMAT, below:

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