Queen's University

Queen's grad makes a difference in Kenya


When Carolyn Maskens (Life Sciences ’09) travelled to the Shelter Children’s Rehabilitation Centre outside of Nairobi, Kenya as a volunteer in May 2008, she never imagined that she would be returning one year later with a donation of over $20,500.  Ms. Maskens travelled to Africa determined to make a difference, she didn’t realize that she was the one who would be forever changed.
The Peterborough native’s experience at the orphanage motivated her to form Kenya Hope 2009, a fundraising initiative in support of the orphanage. 
“When I decided to go to Kenya, I believed that I would be providing temporary assistance for the time I was there,” says Ms. Maskens.  “It was returning home that made me realize that I wanted, and needed, to do more for the children.”
Her initial goal was to raise $5,000 in order to donate and sustain two dairy cows.  With the generous support of her local community, she returned to Kenya with over $20,500 - enough money to build a library, purchase health and first aid supplies, a ton of food, and expand a garden irrigation system. 
Ms. Maskens credits her time at Queen’s with helping her look at the issues facing the orphanage objectively.  An aspiring physician, it became clear early on that the children were malnourished. 
“I realized that my degree taught me what living systems need to function.”  Through consultation with the director of the orphanage, they decided that introducing cow’s milk into the children’s diet would be a positive step toward a more nutritious diet.
Shelter is a privately run facility that receives minimal government funding and survives mainly on the support of donors.  Most of the centre’s 190 children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.  Shelter provides them with food, clothing, education and, most importantly, a home. 
Another busy year lies ahead for Ms. Maskens.  This fall she will begin an internship with Child and Family Health International in India, where her focus will be on infectious disease and maternal and infant health. 
Following her placement, Ms. Maskens will attend Boston University where she will pursue a master’s in public health, specializing in international health. 
To find out more about Kenya Hope 2009 visit www.kenyahope2009.com.

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Last updated at 9:45 pm EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
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