By Hannah Ebeling, Calvin College
“The world is a global village. When the Lord equips you with skills or knowledge, you can easily transfer those gifts to bless other people around the world,” said Adejoke Ayoola, professor of nursing.
This year, Ayoola was selected for the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. In July she will travel to Iwo, Nigeria, and begin a project in collaboration with faculty at Bowen University.
Equipping women, promoting health
Over a period of 33 days, Ayoola will address issues of reproductive health in the community. She will visit both the homes of local women as well as Bowen classrooms in order to equip women with reproductive knowledge and pregnancy planning skills. In addition, Ayoola will act as an adviser in the design of a women’s health center.
She also plans to work with Bowen faculty and staff in community research efforts and in the development of nursing curriculum. “I am passionate about the next generation of nurses, here at Calvin and across the world,” said Ayoola. Since Bowen’s nursing program is less than four years old, she looks forward to seeing it grow and expand in future years.
Ayoola is excited about the work she will be doing in her home country, Nigeria. “I see it as my vocation, as my God calling. This will be an opportunity to use what I’ve learned to care for women and share my knowledge with another institution,” said Ayoola.
Ayoola believes the previous experience she gained at Calvin College facilitating both the Preconception Reproductive Knowledge Promotion Program and the H.E.A.L.T.H Camp (Health, Education, and Leadership Training for a Hopeful future) equipped her with the tools needed to design reproductive health programs at Bowen University.
Collaboration with community
After sharing how she has been promoting women’s health in her own community, Ayoola inquired about the needs of Bowen University and the local community. She hopes to be able to utilize her own skillset in the creation of an entirely unique program for the women of Iwo, Nigeria.
“We will not be truly addressing the issue if we go in with our own preconceived ideas,” said Ayoola.
Ayoola is going to great lengths to understand the needs of the community she will be serving before initiating a project, and she says it is vital that the people who will be using the center are involved in its establishment. “The community has to own it, design it and implement it for the project to be relevant, effective and sustained,” said Ayoola.
Ayoola and her team will be using a variety of community-based research methods in order to ensure the project will be as effective as possible. One way they hope to gain insight is through surveys. “We need to use those as a way of listening to the communities needs and involving them in the process,” said Ayoola.
Opportunity for growth
Ayoola says at the heart of this project is the promotion of scholarship, research, community collaboration and cultural exchange. She believes this project will expand into a long-term partnership and sees the possibility of collaborations with another faith-based institution in the future.
Although she is not working with Calvin students on this project, Ayoola predicts in the coming years there will be opportunities for students to visit the center. “This is the beginning of so many great things that fit with what we are called to here, at Calvin.”
Copyright Calvin College, reprinted by permission.