Belyse Arakaz MD was born and raised in Burundi, but moved to Kenya in 2018 to complete her education. She is now enrolled in the Family Medicine and Community Care training program at Kabarak University and developing her Master’s Thesis, a requirement for certification from Family Medicine in Kenya.
Belyse was born in a rural Burundi, where she receive her early education. Her first language at home was the local Bantu language of the country, Kirundi. But, as she progressed in her education she became fluent in French, English and, recently, Swahili. Belyse’ parents died when she was young, and she was adopted by her paternal uncle, who guided her educational plans. Another uncle later steered her to study medicine. This was undoubtedly a difficult path since she was one of only a few members in her extended family to pursue schooling beyond, the secondary level, and the first and only one to seek a medical degree. With hard work and her own skills she graduated with distinction from Medicine at Hope Africa University.
Family Medicine has only recently been recognized as a specialty discipline in Africa and there are few centres of excellence. The program offered at Kabarak University, Family Medicine and Community Care, is seen as a model for other Universities in East Africa. A requirement for certification in Family Medicine is completion of a Masters Thesis. Belyse’ selected thesis question (“What is the knowledge, attitudes and self-reported cervical cancer screening practices among female clinicians in Kiambu county?”) was chosen and refined during the MicroResearch workshop, work will continue over the next two years with help from a local a thesis supervisor at Kabarak. The MicroResearch workshop, with its emphasis on community research, served a critical role in launching her thesis.
Belyse plans to return to Burundi at the end of her training where she will undoubtedly become a leader in her chosen field.
Teddy Kyomuhangi's Story
MicroResearch Workshop participant in 2010; now a MicroResearch teacher, coach and reviewer. Also insures infrastructure for MicroResearch at MUST and is instrumental in participant recruitment
Social science and public health with particular application in community engagement and development
Worked for Lutheren World Federation on HIV/AIDS in Raki Uganda. In 2005, Teddy became the coordinator for Health Child Uganda – this program has worked to empower villages to address maternal child health problems and improve health outcomes. MicroResearch started as a research capacity building component requested by Healthy Child Uganda.
Program Manager Healthy Child Uganda, Maternal Newborn Child Health Institute
Mbarara University of Science and Technology
How have you used your 2010 MicroResearch training?
1. MR has stimulated her further studies- the MPHL and she is now considering doing a PhD. Learned that she could do research so both advanced degrees possible. She has stopped fearing research
2. MR training supported her in writing grants both locally to Ministry of Health, UNICEF, Save the Children and internationally to Grand Challenge Canada among others. She has succeeded on many of these and now leads the drafting of grants. She is deeply committed to improving local community health. These grants focus on this area.
3. Teddy is now renowned locally for asking – “can we do a pilot “ whenever a new program or practice is to be rolled out to see if the program/practice to be implemented will work before roll out widely. i.e. learn how needs to be adapted to fit the context and culture. Implementation research principles learned in MR have been further honed and refined.
4. Community engagement in the fullest sense is now core to her work. Before MR training, while a component, it was not central to her thinking or work. Now community engagement and empowerment is central to all her work at Healthy Child Uganda and the Maternal Newborn Child Health Institute programs
5. MR has pushed her curiosity – why now looking at doing a PhD
6. MicroResearch has “made me brave. For what I can do for communities and for myself […] We are no longer passive, having research done on us”.
“I am so proud that a local community told a big foreign international government agency that a site visit on Monday would not work because that was market day and they needed to sell their crops but Thursday could work.”
7. MicroResearch is opening doors for us to collaboration with other local universities and organizations.
Francis Oriokot's Story
MBChB, MMed Paeds
MicroResearch workshop participant in 2010; now a MicroResearch teacher, coach and reviewer
Background: Trained as a paediatrician
Highlights relevant to MicroResearch
- Worked in Mulago Hospital /Makerere University - coordinating post graduate training in paediatrics ; also acting head National Nutrition Unit
- Worked with AMREF- health advisor to Soroti District post conflict
- Then headed up their program development & monitoring
- Then worked in Northern Uganda –in conflict zone esp on nutrition and care
Senior Consultant, Paediatrics, at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH)
Designated deputy Hospital Director Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital
How have you used your 2010 MicroResearch training
1. Working with senior paediatric residents in the Dept – more able to help them develop their research proposals as appreciates all components needed
2. For addressing problems –learned that multidisciplinarity has much value, team work now normative in how he solves problems at the hospital versus solo before
3. As head of scientific research committee at MRRH, uses MR approach in review of proposals – helps to look at breadth and quality; offer constructive criticism and how concerns can be addressed
4. As part of Maternal Newborn Child Health Institute at MUST he supports local MR projects that arise out of MR workshops; also teaches in the workshops
5. Support for journal club for the Dept – MR training gave many skills needed to better review journals and see how information/evidence might be used to address local health problems
6. Currently helping 2 Districts develop nutrition care programs for children – following MR principals – “MR has changed how I thinks about and address problems”
7. Now never waits for money to come for a research project as knows many can be done with little or no funds if teams with different skills are put together and the problem is important to solve.
Scholastic Ashaba's Story
MBChB, MMed Psychiatry
MicroResearch Workshop participant in 2010; now a MicroResearch teacher, coach and reviewer MicroResearch site coordinator MUST
Medical training at MUST, psychiatry residency at Makerere
On faculty at MUST since completion of training
Senior lecturer Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology
NB: 37 psychiatrists in all of Uganda; 40 million population
How have you used your 2010 MicroResearch training?
1. Had planned on a clinical and teaching career. Her Dept head suggested in 2010 that she take MR training- did not attend Day 1 as not keen but did go Day 2 and became very excited. Lead a team whose major interest not her’s, but was so very interesting
2. MR hooked her on research - “opened the gates into what research can do” benefits of collaboration, impact on care, etc.
3. Taught MR from 2011 onward - now MR site coordinator, an important aspect of her career is research
4. MR changed her clinical practice – before when asked what was new or if any gaps – did not see them – now sees gaps in care and keen to ask research questions to answer
5. As her MR skills have increased, so has her supervision of resident and student research projects improved. She is now a sought out supervisor . Her teaching skills have also expanded
6. At personal level, MR taught her to use time better, when to say know, how to plan better, accomplish more with less effort and less stress.
7. Overall, MR has enriched her career and made her life more interesting and better planned.
Amy Akim's Story
Amy was born in Nakuru, Kenya, but grew up in Mombasa. She now lives in Nakuru, the major city near Kabarak. Her parents are both Public Health Officers in Mombasa, Kenya. Likely inspired by her parents, Amy and her two sisters are all pursuing careers helping others; one sister is a Social Worker and another an interior designer. All of them feel a responsibility to reach out to help the poor in Kenya. Amy said it on behalf of herself and her sisters; “The way to go is to work in underprivileged communities.”
Amy is a quiet, thoughtful person, but speaks clearly and eloquently when she wants to express her ideas. She is a natural leader and teacher based on the qualities she showed during the MicroResearch workshop this October. She became my teacher, as she explained the fundamentals of the educational program in Kenya, a system that, I believe, has much merit.
High school graduates who get selected to pursue a course in the university are partly sponsored by the government, thus their tuition is subsidized. But to be eligible for State support, High school graduates must spend two years in the community, learning some of life’s lessons from their family and elders. Following this, the most successful students may be accepted into a 5-year medical program and earn a degree in Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. After receiving their MBChB, students are assigned to practice medicine in a State Hospital. Amy did her 2-year work assignment at hospitals in Kangundo and Machakos in Kenya, regions with increased needs. Her ambition now is to earn a Masters Degree in Family Medicine, a requirement for becoming a Family Medicine Specialist in Kenya. Completing a research project and publishing the results is an expectation for the Masters of Medicine in Family Medicine at Kabarak. The University’s goal is also that the research done will be translated into action, and not collect dust on a shelf. Our academic hosts at Kabarak expect the MicroResearch Program will ensure that the research AND the knowledge translation aspects will be achieved. As Amy said during our conversation, “I’m looking forward to using what I have learned.”
Philip caught my eye on the first day of the workshop. He’s every teacher’s dream, a student who relishes the opportunity to learn, and absorbs every lesson with abandonment. He told me he loved the way MicroResearch has helped him to approach research in a new way, “I like it when you ‘demystify’ the concepts of research.” But, being able to attend the workshop was not easy, requiring him to work double time before and after it, to make up for lost hours as a teacher. I was eager to hear his story, and add it to the many others. I’ve learned “In Africa, there are few ‘ordinary’ life stories”.
Philip was born Bomet County, Western Kenya. The 6th of 10 children, 6 boys, and 3 girls. His parents were subsistence farmers, for whom education was an unfulfilled dream but a cherished hope for their children.
As it turned out their oldest son, Stephen, was a particularly gifted learner. Though his parents could only afford to support him to grade 7 of school, he clearly was talented and could have gone on from there. But as good fortune would have it, Stephen was hired by Tenwek Hospital and mentored Dr. Ernest Steury, first Missionary Doctor, to assist him in his regular activities in the operating room. Here is where chance and good fortune can make the difference for several generations. Ernest recognized Stephen’s potential and inspired him and others. With the money Stephen saved as a Dr. Steury’s assistant, he was able to support his brothers and sisters to seek even higher levels of education than his own. I’ve witnessed this model of family support again and again in Africa, brothers and sisters sharing the good fortune that God has given them with their family, a multiplier effect. While 2 of the 9 children died at a young age, Stephen was able to help the others gain an education. Because of his support, one of the siblings is now a police officer, and another a nurse. Philip’s own education beyond high school would likely not have occurred without his brother’s support as well.
With Stephen’s help, and his own hard work, Philip has achieved much, completing his Bachelor of Nursing Degree with distinction at Great Lakes University of Kisumu and a Master’s degree in Community Health and Development. He is now working on a PhD at Jomo Kenyata University of Agriculture and Technology, while still employed full-time as a teacher at the School of Nursing at Tenweck. Philip follows his brother’s and the African tradition of helping family, supporting nephews and nieces through high school and beyond. As he said, “I have been given much, and I know much is expected of me.”
Sifora is a Family Medicine Resident in her first year of training at Kabarak. Sifora appears to be in her late twenties but has a wealth of experience beyond her age. Blessed with a warm smile that comes easily, she brightened the room with her joy and excitement.
Though her residency program is in Kenya, Sifora is actually Ethiopian and has lived in other countries over her young life. Partly because of this, she is actually fluent in 5 completely different languages. Although Amharic, with its 250-letter alphabet is said to be the most difficult language on earth, this one came naturally as the child growing up in Ethiopia. Walaytegna, the local language of her region in Ethiopia, likely occurred before starting formal school. Next came English, which she learned at school, and now speaks with complete fluency. If you are keeping count, the fourth language will come as a surprise, Tagalog, the language spoken in the Philippines was learned while she lived there during high-school, University and while studying Medicine. Her final language (so far) is Swahili, the major language of Kenya. This one is still new, but I think will be conquered very soon.
Sifora told me she was inspired to study medicine by her own family doctor back home in Soddo, Ethiopia. When she is finished her training, she plans to return to Soddo to practice Family Medicine, just like her mentor. But first she must complete a research project. The MicroResearch workshop is tailored to help her achieve that goal. She also understands the role that research will play in her future. “Unless we have the ability to do research, we can not change and we will not solve the problems we have. I believe that MicroResearch will help me get there”
Click below to learn about Isha Grant's MicroResearch Project.
Periodically we hold weekend long “Leaders Forum” events in Africa where workshop graduates are encouraged to network with African researchers and present the findings of their work.
The second MicroResearch form was held from was held from November 8th - 10th, 2013 at the Olive Garden Hotel in Nairobi. it was a great succes and we thank all who attended. Below find attached the November MicroResearch Forum report.
The First MicroResearch Forum was held on March 25 - 26, 2013 and was a great success. We thank all who attended and encourage everyone to review the MicroResearch Forum Report attached below.