Empowered to learn

Global Outreach | Robin Sautter

Location: Ndori, Kenya  
Mission: Helping girls get the most out of their education

It was a simple but important gift. As part of a lesson on health, which included information about menstruation and other bodily changes, University of Minnesota Medical School students Robin Sautter and Alana Jackson distributed 300 “sanitary kits” to 300 girls in rural Kenya.

Robin Sautter and Alana JacksonThe kits contain reusable cloth sanitary pads with Velcro flaps, a washcloth, and soap. Many of the girls didn’t have access to pads, Sautter says, so instead they would use loose pieces of fabric or paper, or worse: “They just wouldn’t come to school. Some girls would stay home for weeks at a time. It makes a big difference in your education when you miss so many days.”

Sautter and Jackson, now third-year students who matriculated from the Medical School’s Duluth campus, were in Kenya for five weeks in the summer of 2014 setting up a mentorship program for high school students. The curriculum — taught through the Pamoja Kenya Mentorship Alliance, an organization one of Sautter’s friends founded — is made up of 10 lessons on leadership, covering such topics as time management, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking. They distributed the sanitary kits while they were there courtesy of a partner nonprofit called Days for Girls International.

Though the mentorship program is set up to be self-sustaining, Sautter is already looking to build on her powerful experience. “I’m anticipating going back there as soon as I can,” she says.  

Photo slideshow: More photos from Robin Sautter's time in Kenya

Published on October 19, 2015

About this image

The photo above, taken by Robin Sautter, won first place in the Global Health Day 2014 photo contest, hosted by the U’s Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility. Global Health Day 2015 is November 19. Learn more at z.umn.edu/globalhealthday

Submit Your work

The Medical Bulletin is seeking compelling photos and stories featuring U of M Medical School student, alumni, or faculty experiences abroad. Selected submissions will be published in future issues of the Medical Bulletin. For more information or to submit your photo or story, email managing editor Nicole Endres at nendres@umn.edu.