Mfangano Island Student Opportunities

The Mfangano Community Health Field Station is a community-rooted enterprise launched in collaboration between the University of Minnesota, Maseno University, and the Organic Health Response (OHR) of Mfangano Island in Kenya.

At the Mfangano Field Station, UMN students work under the guidance of a local community-based organization, the Organic Health Response—Ekialo Kiona Center (OHR-EKC). OHR-EKC has developed an innovative model to improve access to emergency maternal and neonatal health (MNH) services within Mfangano Island Division of Lake Victoria, Kenya.

Investigators from UMN, Maseno University, and OHR-EKC are using a mixed methods, observational cohort study to assess barriers influencing access to emergency pregnancy, obstetrical and neonatal care among patients seeking care at nine health centers on Mfangano Island. They are also conducting a preliminary impact and feasibility/acceptability study of a locally coordinated Health Navigation model for improving access to MNH services and shortening delays in care. This study is called the MOMENTUM study (Monitoring Maternal Emergency Navigation and Triage on Mfangano).





Mfangano Island Student Opportunities Spotlight

A woman is in labor and she and her baby are in distress; her midwife cannot manage the complications. The nearest neonatal and obstetric care facility is hours away.

On Mfangano Island, eight thousand miles from Minnesota, in the middle of Lake Victoria, off the coast of Kenya, a University of Minnesota medical student is working with the Island’s residents to cut that travel time and to save peoples’ lives.

Read Investigating How Health Navigation Improves Maternal Mortality on Mfangano Island

A man steers his boat through a lake


Types of Student Experiences

There are several opportunities for learning experiences related to community health projects. Students can be involved with either programmatic or research activities. (There are no clinical training opportunities at the site). Current opportunities include the following:

Health Navigation - Programmatic

Develop curriculum for Community Health Workers to improve understanding and depth of care, update emergency response protocols, and continue to improve the monitoring and evaluation system. Other opportunities may emerge from future grant funding.

Health Navigation - Research

Work alongside the MOMENTUM research team to carry out various research roles, depending on the stage of the study when students are on the island. Tasks may include data collection support, database and data management support, data analysis and revising/editing project SOPs and policies.

Public Health Practicum

Your specific plan can be shaped to include specific outputs that match with your program requirements including needs assessments, planning manuals, grant writing, planning materials, etc.


Student Experience Information

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Mfangano Island Community Health Field Station welcomes inquiries from undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Minnesota. The Field Station is particularly interested in hosting medical students and residents (specifically Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, OB/GYN) as well as graduate students in Public Health, Nursing, and Veterinary Medicine.

Cost & Logistics

Cost & Logistics

Students should know that costs can vary depending on living preferences and length of stay, but the information below provides a way for students to estimate the costs of a learning experience at the Mfangano Island Field Station.

  • OHR Project Coordination Fee - $750 - Covers private ground transportation from Kisumu to Mfangano Island, visa facilitation for internship waiver, student program coordination, and student program operations at EK Community Center. In no way does OHR profit from this fee but it provides a source of funding for smooth coordination of student projects. Students pay this fee to OHR upon acceptance into a program.
  • Mfangano Homestay - $35 per week -  Includes three meals per day, bedding/mosquito net, clean drinking water, and introduction to the community.
  • Airfare - $1,350 to $1,650 - Travelers to the Mfangano Island Field Station should book a flight to Nairobi and then a Kenyan domestic flight to Kisumu. Flights to Nairobi range from $1,200 - $1,500 from Minneapolis; flights between Nairobi and Kisumu will add approximately $150.
  • Visa -$150 - If staying for shorter than one month, you may be able to to apply for a tourist visa at $50. Note you will also need a passport that is valid for six months after the date you plan to return to the US.
  • Lodging en route to Mfangano Island - Depends on itinerary - Students may need to plan for a night in Nairobi and/or Kisumu to make connecting flights or to board a ferry to Mfangano Island. Organic Health Response can recommend hotels for each location and students should allocate approximately $75/night for each location, though there are cheaper and more expensive options.  
  • Other costs -  $150 - $300 - Plan on other additional needs that come up during your stay.
  • Spending money and Personal travel - Depends



Duration of Experience

Students should commit to a minimum of 4-6 weeks working on the island, but longer commitments are encouraged to allow time for students to adjust before they begin actively working with the research team. Students may request start and end dates that fit their schedules.

Preparation & Mentorship

Students will be provided with a pre-departure orientation, ongoing mentorship and supervision, coordination of logistics and accommodation with our local partner.


OHR-EKC staff will facilitate potential opportunities for publication and manuscript participation.



If interested, please send an email to Dr. Chas Salmen ([email protected]) and Dr. Lily Muldoon ([email protected]) with the following:

  • A paragraph giving a brief background of yourself (including education, current academic enrollment and experience), and why you are interested
  • Your preferred duration of experience and preferred start and end dates
  • Your CV