What’s a ‘Boda Lady?’ This Boise surgeon desires you to find out about this life-changing initiative.

What’s a ‘Boda Lady?’ This Boise surgeon desires you to find out about this life-changing initiative.

Dr. Rhiana Menen is the very definition of a caregiver. She’s a surgeon for the St. Luke’s Well being System, the place she has modified the lives of numerous households. And her ardour for bringing care to medically underserved populations has additionally taken her removed from Idaho.

“And it felt like, “Oh, because of this somebody desires to develop into a physician, as a way to make this distinction on the planet,” she stated.

Menen was describing one in all her first visits to the Ugenya District of Kenya. That’s the place, as a part of the Tiba Basis’s initiative, she and different caregivers supply well being and sexual schooling and distribute menstrual kits to younger girls.

However, throughout one specific journey, Menen and her colleagues seen that most of the younger women getting on the again of so-called “boda boda” scooters. Quickly after, they realized that a lot of those self same women develop into victims of sexual assault, or worse.

“And in order that’s the place we began to consider that transportation piece as an intervention level,” stated Diane Dodge, govt director of the Tiba Basis.

That’s how the Boda Ladies initiative got here into being.

Dodge and Menen visited with Morning Version host George Prentice to speak about Boda Ladies, the life-affirming response to their efforts and their upcoming return to Kenya.

“Wow, that was so superb!”

Learn the complete transcript beneath:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It’s Morning Version on Boise State Public Radio Information Good morning. I am George Prentice.  Dr. Rhiana Menen is right here… a surgeon… a caregiver at St. Luke’s. Each day, she brings hope to folks’s lives for a dwelling. It’s a uncommon day once I’m puzzled. However once I first had the possibility to be launched to Dr. Menen, all I needed was to know extra. When she began speaking about an effort referred to as Days for Ladies, I simply needed to know extra about her visits to Africa. And we’ll find out about it collectively. However first, as an example good morning to Dr. Rhiana Menen.

DR. RHIANA MENEN: Good morning, George.

PRENTICE: To be particular, we’re speaking about offering sexual and well being schooling, in addition to menstrual kits to growing nations. How did this come onto your radar?

MENEN: So, I educated as a surgeon; and as somebody who’s concerned in girls’s well being, I care passionately about girls’s well being and worldwide medication. This wasn’t on my radar in any respect. So I started touring to Kenya with the Tiba Basis in about 2016 after I had simply completed my residency and my fellowship, and I obtained concerned in touring internationally. My father is Indian. He was born in India, and got here to this nation in his 30s. And so, once I was a teen and a preteen, I had the chance to journey to India and Hong Kong and round Asia, and realized how totally different the life I used to be seeing outdoors of the USA was. And that was a part of my mission in changing into a physician,  to have the ability to sooner or later make a distinction on a world scale. I believe one factor that folks do not know is how a lot work goes into changing into a physician, not simply personally, due to course, that is true. But additionally, there’s the group and institutionally. So, it takes highschool, then 4 years of faculty, which a variety of us get grants and loans for that, after which 4 years of medical college and that is once more, grants and loans. After which a 5 to seven yr residency the place we learn to be surgeons; and that’s backed by Medicare and by grants as nicely. And so forth a group stage, on an institutional stage, the USA has invested in making nice docs. And that is not the case in every single place. So within the growing world, usually there are literally thousands of sufferers per one physician, and much more uncommon per specialist. I at all times knew going into surgical coaching that that is one thing I needed to do. So in 2016, I once more was in a position to join with one in all my mentors from residency who had been working with the Tiba Basis for a very long time. And in order that’s once I made my first worldwide journey to Kenya.

PRENTICE: I am sensing that you simply had some thought, at the very least on paper, what to anticipate. However are you able to share with us what needed to be a life altering second while you arrived?


MENEN: So while you’re in these 16 years of coaching, it is all about getting by means of it. And I believe that we do not, as trainees, suppose sufficient about what does it imply to have this present of this coaching? And so simply the breadth of the sufferers that you simply see… the sort of ailments that I might by no means have seen in the USA and simply the kindest folks in group well being. So when a beloved one reveals as much as the hospital, their total household is there. They convey them meals, they stroll them round. They’re grateful and trusting of care in a method that I hadn’t actually skilled earlier than. And it felt like, “Oh, because of this somebody desires to develop into a physician, as a way to make this distinction on the planet.”

PRENTICE: Speak to me concerning the distribution of menstrual kits. Why is that so integral?

MENEN:  Once more, as anyone who had spent a very long time amongst girls, it is simply one thing you suppose folks determine. However these women and girls weren’t figuring it out. So in lots of, many growing international locations, women should not in a position to go to high school in the event that they’re menstruating. In order that they miss every week of college, or a month, as a result of they do not have entry to menstrual provides. In order that they’re despatched house. They’re inspired to get boyfriends in an effort to purchase these disposable kits. They get pregnant, they drop out, they get ailments. And so simply this one answer…there’s one hole… is resulting in early pregnancies, lack of schooling and sort of a lifetime of poverty for women who do not have an answer to one thing that we take fully without any consideration.

PRENTICE: I’m completely floored by that… one thing that’s so second nature to Western tradition, to deal with in a second. However what I am listening to from you is that it is a  downward spiral. You are despatched house from college. You are fortunate in the event you graduate. And it goes downhill from there.

MENEN: Yeah, they usually do not graduate. I am going to simply converse to the area that we work in in Kenya: the common schooling stage is eighth grade. And so what we all know from growing communities is that yearly a lady stays at school interprets to raised revenue in her lifetime. It signifies that she will be able to additionally delay childbearing, which is rather more secure for each the mom and the newborn. It signifies that she will be able to get married at a later age. So these are big impacts…simply the power to remain at school can have the downstream impact.

PRENTICE: What sort of resistance did you meet or… did not meet?

MENEN: That, that was sort of natural and surprising

PRENTICE: Surprising-good, I’ll hope

MENEN: Surprising good. In 2019, we went for a surgical and operative camp, as we name them. So a bunch of prescreened sufferers who know that they are coming for some sort of normal surgical procedure. And a good friend of mine from Boise had offered us and donated 200 of those menstrual hygiene kits. And what’s actually superb about them is that they are they final three to 5 years. It sort of simply solves the issue. They’re washable they usually’re in a backpack, and they also’re discreet. They’re in a position to be held on a washing line and appear like a wash material. And so very discreet and really straightforward to make use of. After which it is paired with this 45 minutes of well being schooling. You realize, this can be a regular lady’s physique. This can be a regular man’s physique. Menstruation is a mirrored image of a wholesome physique. That is how a child’s made. You realize, this can be a regular functioning physique. Aside from that, they’re additionally taught issues like self protection and self worth. The power to say, No, that does not really feel good or I do not. I am not comfy with this. A number of these women have by no means heard that they are allowed to say no. And so this entire program collectively is sort of the complete package deal of of studying. And so once I introduced these 200 kits, I additionally introduced alongside senior in highschool from Timberline and a junior at BSU who had been educated in these distributions. And these two younger girls, you recognize, confirmed up on the hospital and phrase obtained out. So what you stated, it wasn’t even a company. Phrase obtained out that we had these kits on the hospital and the principals from the native women colleges had been busing women in they usually had been answering actually vital questions like How is a child made? And if I am bleeding, does it imply I am dying of AIDS? So actually vital scary questions. After which some actually thrilling, fascinating questions like is it actually true that women in the USA get to drive? And so it sparked this whole cultural alternate that we by no means would have seen.

PRENTICE: Dr. Menen, I’ll ask you to introduce us to a different voice right here, a colleague of yours, and somebody very a lot on the forefront of this initiative.

MENEN: I’m very happy to be right here at present with Diane Dodge, who’s the manager director of the Tiba Basis, and that’s the group. We’re the U.S. fundraising arm for the work we do on the Matibabu Hospital in Kenya.

PRENTICE: Diane Dodge, good morning.

DIANE DODGE: Good morning.

PRENTICE: Inform me about Tiba. Inform me about that phrase, “Tiba.”.

DODGE: It is phrase that truly comes from a bigger phrase: Matibabu. And our associate in Kenya is named Matibabu Hospital…the Matibabu Babu Basis preserve us in the midst of that work. And what it means is “therapy” or “well being.” And that developed out of a relationship that began in 2004, when the 2 organizations developed to convey well being care to rural communities within the western a part of Kenya.

PRENTICE: Diane Dodge, what we’re studying right here is the acceptance of this information.. of this schooling, of this assist. And I believe that that is the true takeaway for me: how accepting the parents that you’re interacting with in Kenya.

DODGE: You realize, it is fairly superb how an interplay with a volunteer from the USA who comes to supply their trip time and their efforts. Who does capacity-building with the group and within the hospital. And the way after they go away, they really feel like they obtained a lot out of it, like, “Wow, that was so superb”, the friendships, the expertise of being there. However the Kenyans are additionally simply so grateful for having that interplay and the talents and all the connections which might be dropped at that.

PRENTICE: Dr. Menen, you advised me a bit about one thing that you simply noticed in Kenya in working with a number of the younger girls:  you had been noticing a good quantity of them had been getting on to the backs of scooters. What was occurring there?

MENEN: Yeah, that is referred to as a boda boda, which is a motorbike…a taxi.

PRENTICE: A boda boda?

MENEN: Boda boda.  And that could be a quite common type of transportation within the space wherein we work. We had begun to distribute these menstrual hygiene kits. And on the finish of one in all these periods, these two women hop on the again of a boda boda and drive away. And the principal on the women college turned to us and stated, “That’s simply so harmful. These women are so susceptible.” And we, Dianne and I, checked out one another and needed extra info. We stated, “Why?” She stated, “As a result of these women get assaulted, they get taken to fields. They do not make it to high school, they do not make it house from college.” And in order that’s the place we began to consider that transportation piece as an intervention level.

PRENTICE: What can I assume, then? That males had been driving them away into hassle?

MENEN: Sure, that is what we heard. And it is fascinating when there should not a variety of different, there aren’t different taxi companies, there aren’t different choices for them. And so and simply to place it in perspective, transportation is fairly costly additionally. So in a group wherein the family revenue is possibly one to $2 a day, taking a greenback or two boda boda experience is kind of costly and prohibitively so and so women who’re making an attempt to get to the hospital. Ladies who’re making an attempt to entry household planning. Now we have that. We offer it a number of who’re actually at a drawback when deciding whether or not to take care of family bills or getting their medical care or getting the ladies to high school safely.

PRENTICE: So inform me…what are you able to do about this? As a result of it sounds prefer it’s a reasonably deep drawback that is embedded within the tradition.


DODGE: That is proper, it’s an embedded drawback, and the ladies there are very resilient and really inventive, and whereas we had been there engaged on this query with the group, we got here up with an answer referred to as the Boda Ladies. So the Boda Ladies got here out of this view the place we had been listening to what girls had been saying, they usually had been speaking about all types of various factors the place they felt like there was some alternative they could not fairly attain. And we realized that a variety of these alternatives, the important thing was transportation. Who knew? Individuals have been working to make, you recognize, empowerment applications for women for fairly a while, understanding that it raises the entire group, know the entire group, however did not see that transportation is such a difficulty, particularly in rural areas the place security might be a difficulty. The price of getting a experience might be a difficulty. And so Boda Ladies is a brand new program that we’re launching quickly once we go to Kenya in April and we could have 12. It is a pilot with 12 girls who’re between the ages of 16 and 30, and they are going to be offering a key to an entire lot of alternatives as a result of in on the finish of this yr, what we see so far as vibrant, there’s 87 main colleges within the space. They will all be divided between these boda drivers who will go and provides the reproductive well being classes every week. They will be distributing the menstrual kits, encouraging the ladies to remain in highschool and even take into consideration faculty or companies like they’ve. They can even give about 5000 free rides to the hospital. So any lady who desires to come back to the hospital for an ultrasound proper now, most girls by no means have an ultrasound, so they do not even know if they’ve problems.

If they need a most cancers screening prenatal care, they will get a free experience to the hospital. One other massive factor that can occur is we count on a variety of women to remain in highschool and end. So proper off the Boda Ladies will get insurance coverage offered for his or her entire household as a result of they are a Boda Lady. So it offers them one thing that they stroll into their household with to say “Everybody of my household goes to have medical health insurance all yr lengthy as a result of I am a Boda Lady.” And so we’re making an attempt to shift the girl’s place in her circle of relatives construction. After which the opposite superb factor that occurs is that girls be taught a enterprise that historically solely males could possibly be boda drivers or culturally, that is what occurred. A boda driver earns a minimal of $4 a day in the event that they’re lazy, folks say, however you recognize they will earn as much as ten {dollars} a day. In order that’s the ability of this. This program is on the finish of the yr, they’ll have earned sufficient cash to purchase their very own motorbike. There are about twelve hundred {dollars} apiece, and they’ll even be educated as a group well being employee, which pays the Kenyan Ministry of Well being pays. So it is fairly sustainable in that method. So we need to begin with this pilot after which broaden yearly. Annually, the ladies can be mentoring different women to affix this system and in that method, develop a sisterhood and a and a a girls’s collective that is caring for one another.

PRENTICE: So I can not write quick sufficient. So the younger girls can be boda drivers.

DODGE: They will drive. I imply, proper now they’re beginning to learn to drive a motorbike. Are you aware how loopy it’s? Have you ever ever seen a rustic the place girls could not drive after which they might drive? What that does to all of the little women locally and suppose, wow, possibly I can have my dream, no matter that dream is perhaps. They’re studying the way to drive proper now.

PRENTICE: What’s your web site? As a result of there’s there needs to be extra to be taught and to and to attach. What what’s one of the best web site for folks to hook up with?

DODGE: One of the best ways to search out out concerning the Boda Ladies is the Tiba Basis. It is tibafoundation.org.

PRENTICE: Dr. Rhiana Menen. Okay, I believe I simply heard April.

MENEN: We’re going April 1st. We go to launch the boat of ladies and we couldn’t be extra proud and excited.

PRENTICE: And so while you say “we,” have you ever obtained colleagues? Have you ever obtained pals? I’ll guess that you simply’re fairly convincing to get different folks to to affix the crew.

MENEN: This final COVID yr has been so troublesome and that we weren’t in a position to journey to Kenya, and so we sort of pivoted our efforts in program growth. You realize, it is a humbling expertise. As a surgeon, I can go and, you recognize, do 20 surgical procedures and assist 20 folks with this mission. As Diane has identified, the depth and the breadth of the those who we are able to affect and actually change the thought of what it means to be a lady on this group and be proud to be a lady on this group is basically overwhelming. In order you possibly can hear, we’re excited and I believe our pleasure is contagious as a result of we’ve got lots of people in Boise and everywhere in the world who’re serving to to affix us to fundraise for this mission.

PRENTICE: She is Dr. Rhiana Menen, and Diane Dodge is govt director of the Tiba Basis. Nice good luck to you and secure journey,and thanks for giving us a while this morning.

MENEN: Thanks, George.

DODGE: Bye, bye.

Discover reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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