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An untreated bite from a sandfly can kill residents in east Africa. This co-op student is working in Kenya to eradicate the deadly disease.

Leah Oruko has been in Kenya since January completing a co-op with the Research on Multi-Disease and Education Services center. Courtesy photo from Leah Oruko. In this photo, student is giving treatment to a baby being held by a mother in Kenya.

Leah Oruko’s ambitions extend farther than the borders of her hometown in New Castle County, Delaware. They even extend beyond the confines of the United States. With a passion for advocacy work and helping others, Oruko, a third-year health sciences major at Northeastern University, plans to become an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat doctor) who travels around the world helping those in impoverished communities. She’s getting a taste of what that future might look like as a co-op at the Research on Multi-Disease and Educational Services (TERMES) center in Chemolingot Town in Kenya. She’s working there as a research associate, interviewing local doctors and residents in Baringo County to understand their health barriers. 

“It’s so different being there and living the lifestyle of the Pokot people, rather than doing distant research or visiting for just a day or two,” she says. “It’s so different being in the field.” Much of Oruko’s desire to take part in the co-op stems from a trip she took to the county with her father, who was born and raised in Kenya, in 2019.  She observed some of the barriers residents of the country face. 

Read more at Northeastern Global News.

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