Daniel Echelman, 2011, Chemistry

With the support of Health Grand Challenge, I traveled to Kenya to work with TEARS Group Kenya.  For a quick word of background about the organization, TEARS is a local NGO based in Nakuru, Kenya that grew out of a youth group that used theater as a means of affecting behavior change as it relates to HIV/AIDS.  My work with the organization was focused on two projects: research into the successes and shortcomings of TEARS’ theater-against HIV/AIDS efforts, the primary objective of the summer, and implementation of a breast cancer awareness pilot project.  With both projects, there were plenty of moments of celebration, and also plenty of moments of frustration.  If I were to leave a recommendation for future students and administrators organizing Grand Challenges projects in the developing world, I would emphasize the importance of good communication with the partner organization before arriving, particularly concerning objectives and expectations, as many of my frustrations came about when I had trouble getting TEARS to move on the program work-plans.  I leave Kenya, though, with a wealth of data and experience with their theatrical efforts, from which we are currently compiling a report for the organization, and with the groundwork for the breast cancer project in place, and would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to Grand Challenges for affording me this opportunity.