For the past 3 months I have been conducting a needs assessment research of female health needs for my thesis project. Laurea University of Applied Sciences has been planning a health promotion project for Grand-Popo, and my research will form an important part of it. It is such an honor to be part of this project at my university. I am a nursing student, originally from Kenya. Before my trip, I had never travelled to another African country. At first, I underestimated my language and intercultural skills, and upon arrival, I felt very helpless and vulnerable. I was fortunate enough to have a dedicated translator who committed his time to assist me in achieving the goals of my project despite he himself was not in good health. My integration into the community was however slow and gradual because I couldn’t communicate effectively in neither the local language (Mina) nor the official language (French). The scope of my research work demanded proper understanding of French because I had to review government documents and reports written in French. In addition, interaction with the community in order to understand their health needs requires communication. On a positive note, I had an opportunity to travel to remote villages to see the state of the health services offered there. During the life of the thesis study, I made wonderful friends who supported me in my work and we also shared ideas. What has been crucial for this project is an idea conceived by two energetic and ambitious young guys with a vision to improve the quality of health care for the rural community of Grand Popo.

Brian Otieno 1

Living in Benin opened up my mind to new ways of thinking in relation to globalization and career prospects. It created in me an interest to work with populations in improving their daily life. The majority of Benin’s population is poor and a lot still needs to be done to bridge the development gap. Health, environment, energy and agriculture are all keys to boosting the livelihood of the locals.

For instance, dissemination of health promotion information deep into the underserved communities of Grand-Popo and distribution of mosquito nets to the families will help reduce frequent visits to the clinic or over-expenditure of medications. I learned a lot during the course of my stay, and one of the recognizable achievements would be my French language skills. My eyes were opened to the opportunities available in West Africa and Africa as a whole. I challenge myself and other African students and graduates sitting on their degrees in Finland to be brave enough to use their knowledge and skills to create innovative solutions for Africa. In partnership with two others, we have committed ourselves to create, innovate and develop systems and solutions to boost development. Working in collaboration with the youth, community representatives and professionals, an organization is being set up to disseminate new technology and information to boost development and open new frontiers of knowledge. This organization will work on bringing modern systems into trials and use, cutting across different fields.

Brian Otieno 2

Brian Otieno
iCID Africa Org, Founder and Executive Director
Laurea University of Applied Sciences, 2015