Keep Those Hearts BeatingGAMBIER, Ohio (May 25, 2011)
Two Kenyon students are going "home" this summer, not to chill from the academic year, but to raise the level of health care and save lives in an underserved society.
Daniel Akuma '14 and Alice Adebiyi '11 recently were awarded $10,000 from Davis Projects for Peace to spend four weeks in Nigeria teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first-aid techniques to students and adults. They begin their project on May 31 in Abakaliki before focusing their effort in Lagos, the second largest city in Africa.
Akuma is a native of Nigeria who has helped tutor students there and participated in the National Program on Immunization. "I go home every summer but am so elated to being going home this summer, not just to sit and relax, but to give something back to my community," he said.
Adebiyi is an international student from London, England, whose parents are natives of Nigeria. She considers Nigeria her second home. "I speak and hear the language, eat Nigerian food and attend a Nigerian church," she said. "I pretty much live a Nigerian life in London."
As the students noted in their proposal, Lagos and other cities in Nigeria have a desperate need for CPR due to crowded conditions combined with the absence of adequate resuscitation training. People with breathing crises from injury or illness often have to wait long periods of time for an ambulance to arrive. Patients, meanwhile, often die because nobody knows how to administer CPR. In fact, "many civilians in Nigeria don't even know what CPR is," Akuma said.
Adebiyi's first visit to Nigeria four years ago opened her eyes to the need for medical care and helped inspire the idea for the project. She saw a woman fall from a moped. She was "bleeding from her head and mouth," Adebiyi said. "We sat in traffic for 15 minutes and no one came to rescue her. It was really heartbreaking to see that."
To prepare for the trip, Akuma and Adebiyi received CPR certification and instructor training from the American Red Cross of Knox County. The Kenyon students will partner with the Nigerian Red Cross Society and the social enterprise Visible Impact to teach CPR and first aid to more than 100 students in community schools during the week and fifty adults in religious centers on weekends.
They also will provide training and certification to school teachers and religious leaders who, in turn, can instruct even more citizens. "We are targeting a huge chunk of the younger generation (ages 13 and older) who will be the future leaders of their communities," Akuma said. "We are trying to reach people at the grassroots level who are not privileged enough to receive this kind of education." Snacks, certificates and mini-first aid kits will encourage attendance.
Akuma, who has lived in Nigeria his entire life, is fulfilling his pre-med requirements as he considers a neuroscience major. Adebiyi recently graduated with a neuroscience degree and plans to enter medical school or graduate school to study clinical psychology, with an interest in trans-cultural health.
Davis Projects for Peace awards grants to students for hands-on community service projects that the students propose. The Kenyon students have plans to publicize their effort through newspapers and radio stations, promote the Nigerian Red Cross with a YouTube video and document their experience with a photo album. They raised $1,500 to support their trip. "We seek to lay the foundation of hope and peace in the place we call home," they wrote in their proposal.