When Air Force veteran Nicole Stoddard got an opportunity to serve overseas again, she jumped at the chance.
“I’m blessed that they picked us to go cause you know, there was about 20 other people that applied,” said Stoddard.
However, Stoddard wasn’t reenlisting in the armed services. This time, she would be heading to Africa to help treat sick Kenyans.
“You see on TV all the time these people who don’t have anything. And even though it’s a small thing, it was something I could give back in a bigger way,” said Stoddard.
While in Kenya, the students helped treat 369 patients.
At the Brase Clinic, run by Kenya Relief in Migori, they saw 180 patients. They also spent a day out at the Sowing and Reaping Vocational Training Center at Lake Victoria, Kenya, where they saw an additional 189 people.
“People would walk for miles and miles, the whole day they would walk to come and just receive medical care from us,” said student Ashley McKlintock.
She said the experience was eye opening for her because they were able to witness several diseases they may never encounter in the United States.
“We got to see malaria, test for it and then see it under the microscope, which is probably something that I will never get to see again. The same with some other parasites that they have rampant over there because of the dirty water,” said McKlintock.
Instructor Bonnie Bibb said the trip at times was “heartbreaking” and “overwhelming.”
“There were many tears. We saw where there had been a water system that had been put in place to where they would have safe drinking water, but again, these people were walking miles to be able to access this water,” said Bibb.
Bibb started teaching at Wallace State around the time the six students enrolled nearly two years ago. She said prior to the trip, the students research many of the diseases they imagined they would encounter while in Kenya.
“They really flourished. I could see how much they have learned over the past two years and their skills really came alive when we were in Kenya,” said Bibb.
The group said they’re already planning a trip for next year. Stoddard added that the experience will help her become ever more passionate as a nurse here at home.
“There's a lot of problems with people not being compliant and it’s very frustrating sometimes. But I got to see why they’re not compliant and I can relate that to here,” said Stoddard.