NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Wesleyan University students are creating a health care clinic in an East African community in memory of a murdered classmate who had plans of becoming a public health worker.
The Johanna Justin-Jinich Memorial Clinic is expected to open this summer in Kibera in Kenya and serve 5,000 to 6,000 residents annually. A Kenyan nurse and doctor will staff the clinic along with community health workers.
“I think it will save lives,” said Jessica Posner, an organizer who graduated from Wesleyan in May. “I think it will teach people how to take care of their own health and how to take care of the health of their neighbors as well.”
Justin-Jinich of Timnath, Colo., was shot to death in a bookstore cafe in Middletown. Stephen P. Morgan, an acquaintance from Massachusetts, has been charged with killing the 21-year-old student.
Justin-Jinich had hoped to attend graduate school in international public health with a focus on women’s access to health care. She wanted to work in a place like Kibera, Posner said.
“She was very passionate,” Posner said. “She talked about it a lot. I think we’re very excited to keep her memory alive through this clinic.”
The clinic received a $53,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation started by the late actor Paul Newman. It will be the first community-driven clinic in Kibera that specializes in women’s health, organizers said. It will treat the primary causes of death in the region.
Childbirth is the number one killer of women in Kibera and women in the slum contract HIV at five times the rate of men in the region, Posner said. About 20 percent of children in the slum die before their fifth birthday and the average life expectancy is 30, compared to 50 in the rest of Kenya, according to organizers.
Posner, who has lived in Kibera, said children play in garbage strewn everywhere and residents lack electricity and clean water. She and Kennedy Odede, a Wesleyan student originally from Kibera, last year founded the first tuition-free school for girls there.
“I was just enraged people have to live in conditions like that,” Posner said.