Preparing to take flight

Before I commence, a brief introduction.  I'm Adam from Indianapolis.  I majored in Classical Guitar Performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. In my spare time I play shows and upload Youtube videos (8 million+ views now). I'm now a 4th year medical student at IU, and just a couple weeks ago I learned I will continue my training at IU for ophthalmology residency!  I've been the Global Health Student Interest Group Fundraising Chair for the past two years. It's been a terrific experience to get to know classmates who have a similar passion for global health.

After my 1st year of medical school, I spent a month on a volunteer medical trip in El Salvador with the IU ENLACE Program partnered with CoCoDa. I lived with a host family in a village called Aguacayo, which is next to the beautiful town of Suchitoto, nestled on a lake called Lago Suchitlan.  This experience confirmed my love for experiencing new cultures and providing help where there are limited resources.

This past year has truly been a roller coaster. Last February I was accepted to the AMPATH Kenya elective. I was thrilled. Then the trip was canceled following the terrorist attack at Garissa University.  This was a huge blow to my classmates and I who have looked forward to possibly participating in this experience during our medical school career.  Fortunately I was able to join a 4th year elective with ENLACE in El Salvador. Then this trip was moved to Nicaragua due to increased gang violence. I was crushed and my host family is frequently in my thoughts.  Then the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health declined our application, and the trip was completely canceled.  By a twist of fate, the AMPATH elective was reopened a couple weeks later.  I had petitioned along with my classmates, and I think our voice helped shaped the decision from above.  So the moral of the story is, it is difficult to study abroad.  And it remains a fact that the people who need the most help happened to live in areas of turmoil.

Now, I was very well prepared for El Salvador.  I minored in Spanish, so I had a moderate grasp of the language and knew much about Latin American culture from many of my classes.  This time….totally different story.  In the span of about two weeks I signed and uploaded all my forms, booked my flights, received my onslaught of vaccines. Now I'm packing, and getting ready to leave in two days. To Africa.

Africa!  I know very little about Africa.  I learned the locations of all the countries in 7th grade (I have since forgotten).  In 8th grade, I read Kaffir Boy, a book which exposed me to racism in apartheid South Africa.  In college, I went on a trip to Israel and we hiked mountains in Eilat where we could see Egypt in the distance.

In the past couple days, I have spent a lot of time learning about the history of Kenya from resources I've found online.  The amount of change in just the past decade is absolutely astounding.  I also searched "Africa" on Netflix and discovered "Wildest Africa," a nature documentary series.  One episode highlighted the climate and biology of Mount Kenya, and the other that of Lake Turkana.  Both regions are undergoing rapid climate change, which glaciers receding on Mount Kenya and Lake Turkana diminishing by 30cm.  These diminishing sources of water have a profound impact on the delicate ecosystems, and on the tribes that live in these harsh climates: the Kikuyu Tribe at Mount Kenya and the El-Moro tribe at Lake Turkana.

Unfortunately, I am only able to stay for one month because I have my Medicine sub-I rotation in March and Radiology in April.  I chose to spend my time in pediatrics.  I am specifically interested pursuing a pediatric ophthalmology fellowship after residency.  I hope I can spend a day or two with ophthalmologist as well during my trip.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I can bring during my trip.  I'm bringing all of my medical gear and plan to stuff my pockets for the wards.  And I'm bringing games and toys for the kids. 


For the kids. I've always wanted an excuse to buy Pokemon cards.

I'm also bringing my trusty Taylor GS Mini Guitar. It's a travel-size guitar which fits in overhead compartments on airplanes.  Though I have much to learn about the culture in Kenya, there is one thing I already know: music is a big part of their lives.  I hope my guitar can offer a connection.  I already started learning a few fun songs specifically for this trip:

Hello by Adele in Swahili:

Jambo Bwana:

Hakuna Matata from the Lion King:

Africa by Toto:

Africa by Andy McKee:

Mombasa by Tommy Emmanuel:

Those last two are going to take a lot of practice….

Honestly, the best way to prepare for me was to get a head start on building my connection to Eldoret.  On Thursday, my bandmate Tyler and I performed a fundraiser concert at TwoDEEP Brewing Co. here in Indy to benefit Hunger Banquet, which raises money for the AMPATH and Tumaini Orphan Programs.  We had a great crowd and the show was a huge success, raising $294. If you don't have your tickets already, go to to save your spot and join us on March 5th!

I hope this next month challenges me. I know will see poverty and suffering unlike what I have witnessed before. I will be frustrated I'm sure at the lack of help I will be able to provide.  If I can spread a little hope and joy, I will be happy and inspired beyond measure.

I am so excited and can't wait to post from Kenya!

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
-Marcel Proust


Soundchecking for our AMPATH Hunger Banquet Fundraiser at TwoDEEP Brewing Co.



Posted at 05:00


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