In May 2018, Western staff Bob Gough, Director, International Internships & Development and Jessica Cordes, Western Heads East & International Internships Coordinator, travelled to East Africa to visit with Western Heads East partners and interns in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
In Kenya, meetings were held in three cities - Juja, Nairobi and Eldoret.
In Juja, at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Bob and Jessica met with faculty and staff engaged with health, nutrition and probiotic foods. JKUAT has had a Fiti probiotic yogurt program on campus since 2015 and is now working on plans to expand the scope of the program by exploring partnerships with health institutions and increasing awareness on JKUAT campus. Plans to increase the scope of the Fiti program include student and faculty research projects related to Fiti probiotics and new Fiti probiotic product lines.
In Nairobi, meetings with Aga Khan University Hospital, Aga Khan
Foundation and Aga Khan Development Network enhanced a strong relationship between Western University and the Aga Khan network. Research opportunities, a pilot Fiti probiotic program with Community Health Workers, sales of Fiti probiotic yogurt in Aga Khan University Hospital, and student internships were discussed.
In Eldoret, Moi University is prepared to establish a Fiti Health & Research Centre on campus. While the partnership between Moi and Western University is not new, collaborating since 2012, working with Western Heads East and establishing the probiotic foods program on campus is new this year. Over 15 faculty at Moi from School of Business & Economics as well as School of Tourism, Hospitality & Events Management met to discuss plans for start-up and growth of a Fiti Health & Research Centre and how to engage students from all faculties in experiential learning through the local program. A short write-up and photos from the visit are on Moi University’s website.
University of Rwanda is also set to establish a Fiti Health & Research Centre on campus. The Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics is planning to incorporate student course assignments and research with the establishment of a Fiti Centre. University of Rwanda is also working closely with Rwanda Bureau of Standards and community groups to plan for expansion of the Fiti program into the community.
In Tanzania, WHE partner Mikono Yetu Centre for Creativity and Innovation organized a full-day meeting with community leaders to discuss the establishment of a Fiti Training & Production Centre. Under the strong leadership of Executive Director, Maimuna Kanyamala, Mikono Yetu plans to establish a centre that will produce large quantities of Fiti probiotic products for sale through distribution kiosks, centralize training and support for community kitchens, and engage in public health education strategies.
Partner University, Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) also organized a meeting with faculty from various departments to discuss research opportunities related to the Fiti program at SAUT. SAUT built a Fiti kitchen on campus and has plans to expand in the coming months. SAUT will open a satellite kiosk in a central location on campus in November. Like Moi University, SAUT is exploring how to engage students from all faculties in experiential learning through courses and assignments related to the local program.
Finally, Bob and Jessica wrapped up their time in Tanzania with a trip to the first Fiti kitchen – Tukwamuane – where the women’s group is still thriving and currently experimenting with new products such as naturally flavoured pineapple Fiti yogurt and juices. The women report that the new products have helped to increase sales and return customers, especially from nearby schools.We are very proud to collaborate with these universities, NGOs and community groups who are doing great things within their communities. We are excited for the continued development of this program, led by our East African partners.