Irene Chemtai Mungo (2007)
Community Health Education and Training Project: Mombasa, Kenya
Like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya is adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with over 1.3 million people living with the virus. For her Stronach project, Irene endeavored to provide critical health education at the AIDS Research and Family Care Clinic in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, where poverty, joblessness, limited education, and cultural stigma are all obstacles to treating and caring for children with HIV/AIDS. She developed a health resource guidebook in both English and Swahili to help families better understand HIV/AIDS and provide proper care for children with the disease. She wanted her guidebook to communicate health lessons through simple language and the drawings of local children. Irene also planned to organize educational workshops for caregivers and adolescent patients, bring presentations on HIV/AIDS and other health topics to area schools, and sponsor an essay contest in which students could propose ways to address health issues in their lives and their community.
Whether in the Bay Area or her native Kenya, Irene Chemtai Mungo has had the same goal: combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic through education and support. A Chemistry major at Berkeley, Irene helped coordinate family and adolescent HIV support services at Childrens Hospital in Oakland and served as President of Bears for UNICEF, a campus organization that advocates and fundraises for women and children in the developing world. She gave presentations about AIDS in Kenya through the Multicultural Speakers Bureau at Berkeleys International House and she went to Mombasa, Kenya, as a 2006 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow to research the impact of HIV/AIDS on that community. For her Stronach Prize, Irene returned to Mombasa to address the critical need for health education materials for the local population. Embarking on her Stronach project, Irene noted, My background in science will enable me to take on the technical aspects of this project and translate the scientific information to a format accessible to a lay audience, while the breadth of my coursework will enable me to appreciate the challenges of this work. Irene is now attending medical school in San Francisco.