Contributing to Change as a Kupenda Intern

by Lucie Rutherford


For years, I have been interested in the intersection of public health and international aid. As a former global public health undergraduate at the University of Virginia and now a master of public health graduate student focused on policy, law, and ethics, I was eager to join Kupenda’s team. Thanks to connections between a former professor of mine and Jessica Charles, Kupenda’s Communications and Development Director, I was able to begin my role with Kupenda as a monitoring and evaluation intern. During my time with the organization, I’ve been able to utilize my skills and interests to further the mission of transforming harmful beliefs surrounding disability to those that improve lives.

Since my first day at Kupenda, I have enjoyed interacting with a small but talented group of people dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities. While each of my colleagues bring their own expertise-–whether in data, software, communications, or leadership–-our work continues to be collaborative and exciting. While my academic background equips me to feel comfortable with analyzing public health data, Kupenda has allowed me to grow and develop this skill set even further. I have come to find beauty in transforming a spreadsheet into a dynamic graph, telling the story of how Kupenda has reduced stigma and improved access to care for thousands of Kenyan children.

In addition to synthesizing the responses of Kenyan families and local leaders regarding disability, I have analyzed the changes in disability beliefs following Kupenda’s Traditional Healer Disability Training Workshops, and I have transcribed interviews from Kenyan women as they recount their experiences with sexual and reproductive health care. Kupenda has also allowed me to continue my love for writing by publishing blogs on World Food Day and Kupenda’s upcoming storybook, No Longer Left Behind: How Children with Disabilities Go to School in Kenya.

It did not take long for me to understand the gravity of our work at Kupenda. These projects are not meaningless, nor is it work that will go unnoticed. Each of my tasks help us understand the impact of Kupenda services–-what went right, what needs improvement, and what needs have yet to be overcome. Perhaps this is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work with Kupenda: the realization that all of our roles matter, including those of the children we serve.

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