Judith A. Burnett, PhD, associate professor of counselor education at Stetson University, has been helping youth who are impacted by HIV/AIDS in Naivasha, Kenya in the Rift Valley Province, which is located northwest of Nairobi, collaboratively as a team member of Inua Partners in Hope for the past three years.
The nonprofit organization is a faith-based ministry that works to expand the opportunities of orphaned and vulnerable youth. Many of the youth have lost their parents to HIV or AIDS. Inua, which means to lift together, raise up or elevate in Swahili, helps them overcome poverty, malnutrition and illness in order to become self-sufficient and achieve long-term sustainability.
Youth are enrolled in the two-year Inua Partners in Hope program, which includes mentors and embraces the well-being of the whole child by focusing on life skills and the eight dimensions of wellness: emotional wellness, physical wellness, social wellness, occupational wellness, spiritual wellness, intellectual wellness, environmental wellness and financial wellness.
Mothers who are infected with HIV or AIDS can transfer the disease to their children. The program provides the youth with reproductive health information as part of their life-skills training, so they can receive education about the subject, medication and support if they are infected with the disease.
Dr. Burnett is an expert in reproductive health and felt her background and research could make a difference with the Kenyan youth.
Discussing reproductive health is a challenging subject, but Dr. Burnett is in the process of developing training that is culturally meaningful and relatable to both men and women.
In August, clinical mental health master’s student Joey Lynn Jachec, who is the project’s research assistant, delivered to the Kenyan team the collaboratively-designed mentor training curriculum and had an opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony. The opportunity was a life-changing experience where she was able to hear the graduates’ success stories and learn how Inua Partners in Hope provided them with the tools for success that helped them find a career and become self-sufficient.
There were 200 youth who participated in the program during the last youth program cycle. At the end of the program, 181 completed the graduation assessment.
Since the Inua Partners in Hope program began nine years ago, 437 youth have graduated and more than 2,000 youth have been impacted, which includes the graduates’ siblings and children.
Dr. Burnett and Joey Lynn discussed their Inua Partners in Hope involvement and the mental health curriculum for youth in Naivasha, Kenya during a presentation at the Webster Vienna Private University in Vienna, Austria in October. The presentation was well-received during the conference, which was hosted by the European branch of the American Counseling Association.