Summer 2020 Fellows & Interns Tackle Projects Remotely This Summer

Written by Katrina Kulik

Each summer, CFK engages students, recent graduates, and volunteers from various universities in Kenyaled research and community development projects. Students learn first-hand how our programs are developed and administered, and they experience the impact of the work within the Kibera community. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has taken away the opportunity for travel. However, no virus can stop our group of committed, enthusiastic, and eager public service advocates. This summer, despite the virus, CFK is engaging with young researchers in a remote capacity.  

We are thankful that some of our summer team visited Kibera prior to their engagement with CFK and that the others have jumped in eager to help, hoping that one day they will be able to engage experientially on the ground in Kenya. The team is full of talent and eager to both share their skills with and learn from CFK staff to make a difference in Kibera. 

Each member of our summer staff brings a unique perspective and expertise to the team. Projects include working on an evaluation impact report of CFK’s 2017-2020 Strategic plan, communication material development to help mitigate COVID-19 in Kibera, collaborations, and partnerships with donors and foundations and educational research on interventions in informal schools in Kenya.  

Hannah Bain

Hannah Bain obtained Bachelor’s degrees in Communications, Spanish, and International Studies from North Carolina State University. Hannah has studied in Peru and Spain. She joins the CFK team as a Communication Fellow and will focus on increasing collaboration with current partners, fundraising, grant writing, and media engagement.

Quarantine Saving Grace: I got an Australian Shepherd/Poodle mix puppy named Bowen. (Picture included because who doesn’t love a good puppy pic!) He keeps me company while I work, gets me out of the house for at least seven walks per day, and chews on everything in sight (except for his chew toys).
Happiest Memory: A family trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. We were most excited about completing the Sky Pond trail. It is a rigorous, nine-mile hike that goes past three large ponds, requires you to scale a waterfall, and reaches an elevation of 10,900 feet. After scrambling up the waterfall, which was running heavily due to recent rain, we reached the end of the trail and enjoyed a lunch of squashed peanut butter sandwiches and bananas with the most amazing view.
Fun Fact: My first job was working as one of the characters along a haunted trail.
Would you rather give up sweets or salts? Salts 100%, I don’t know what I would do without 2 squares of dark chocolate at the end of each day.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? Expanding access to education and empowerment to decrease preventable diseases and improve global health and health equity.


Kathleen Hoffkins

Kathleen Hoffkins is an undergraduate student at American University pursuing a degree in Political Science and International Relations. Kathleen is excited to promote social justice. She joins our team as an intern this summer and will focus on researching evidence-based programs utilized by other organizations and conducting a cost-benefit analysis to help determine if these programs should be considered for implementation by CFK.

Quarantine Saving Grace: Watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix and eating far too much ice cream.
Happiest memory: I love acting. Last year at a dress rehearsal the whole cast was extremely focused and in character, by the end, we felt like we could fly.
Fun Fact: My great grandfather was the person who came up with the idea of putting zippers on pants.
Would you rather permanently give up sweets or salts? Salts because I love chocolate.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? Rights of refugees.


Katrina Kulik

Katrina Kulik obtained a Masters in Humanitarian Health from Johns Hopkins University. Katrina has previously volunteered in South Africa, Guatemala, and Kibera. She is excited to work to improve the lives of people around the world. Katrina joins the CFK team as a Non-Profit Administration Fellow who will be assisting with fundraising, donor engagement, research, and CFK alumni engagement.

Quarantine Saving Grace: Working out & starting a North Carolina County Seat Challenge.
Happiest memory: Receiving a traditional Kenyan birthday washing while in Kibera in 2019. (Pictured)
Fun Fact: After spending a year volunteering, I was banned from South Africa for 5 years. (It’s a long story and a misunderstanding and has since been resolved, but was super scary in the moment.)
Would you rather permanently give up sweets or salts? Salts.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? WASH/access to clean water and health inequality.



Chimwemwe Kumwenda

Chimwemwe Kumwenda 

Chimwemwe Kumwenda is pursuing a Masters of Public Health in Maternal, Family and Child Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Sheis from Mangochi, Malawi.  She joins our team as an intern and will be assessing Tabitha Maternity Clinic’s preparedness to respond to and manage COVID-19. She will be conducting surveys with health workers, providing recommendations, and publishing a report to communicate her findings.

Quarantine Saving Grace: Baking with my kids. It was a lot of fun despite the mess.
Favorite Memory: When my first baby was placed into my arms right after she was born. It was a moment of pure joy. I felt so much love for her.
Fun Fact: Without sight or smell, an apple, potato, and onion all taste the same. (Although I must say I have never tried it before.)
Would you rather permanently give up sweets or salts? Sweets.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? Reduction of health disparities (reducing preventable differences between groups in achieving optimal health).



Chelsea Leversedge 

Chelsea Leversedge is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in global health. She plans to attend medical school in order to increase access to healthcare for populations domestically and internationally. She joins our team as a UNC Peacock Fellow and will be working on evaluating the 2017-2020 strategic plan with a focus on the impact of maternal health programs. She is also supporting efforts in CFK’s COVID-19 response.

Quarantine Crazy: The craziest thing I did was survive COVID-19.
Favorite Memory: When my sister and I traveled to Germany and Greece last summer, we did everything from hiking to viewing the Berlin wall, cliff jumping, and biking around different cities.
Fun Fact: I was named after a soccer team and I hate coffee and anything coffee-flavored.
Would you rather permanently give up sweets or salts? Sweets.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? Unequal access to healthcare.


Valerie Lucas 

Valerie Lucas is in her final year at UNC majoring in Economics & Global Public Health. Valerie worked as a research analyst for Academic BenchmarkingConsortium and is very involved in the Chapel Hill non-profit community.  She volunteers with the Community Empowerment Fund and Durham Volunteer Doulas. She joins our team as a UNC Peacock Fellow and will be working on monitoring and evaluation on the topics of girls’ and women’s empowerment, youth health and engagement, and economic opportunity. Valerie is also working on monitoring and data support for CFK’s COVID-19 response.

Quarantine saving grace: Carpentry. I built, sanded, and stained a TV stand and side table.
Favorite Memory: In 2019, I farmed and worked on various community projects in rural France. I learned so much about growing food and the impact of climate change on small-scale farmers. I met so many wonderful people and cooked some wonderful French meals.
Fun Fact: I usually go by Val but my full name is Valerie Ann Lucas, so my initials are also VAL.
Would you rather permanently give up sweets or salts? Sweets.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? Global wealth inequality and the impact of colonization and imperialism on low-income countries.


Lia Messinger 

Lia Messinger is a senior at American University majoring in Global Health and Environmental Sustainability with a minor in Public Health. In the fallof 2019, Lia spent a month as a CFK community outreach intern in Kibera, working in the maternity ward, pharmacy, and youth empowerment program. This summer shes working on increasing donor engagement through various platforms such as GlobalGiving and Aid For Africa.

Quarantine Saving Grace: Hiking through DC’s Rock Creek Park.
Happiest memory: Going to China in 2008. I was adopted from Jiangxi as a baby and went back to travel across the country with my family and other girls who were adopted. It felt like I had come home. I could look around and see people that looked like me. Contrary to the U.S., I blended in instead of standing out.
Fun Fact: I am conversational in French and can talk to native speakers.
Would you rather permanently give up sweets or salts? Sweets.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? Creating better access to healthcare for women and LGBTA persons on a global stage.


Ben Sorkin 

Ben Sorkin is a Harvard University graduate with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Educational Studies. He is joining CFK as a Summer Education Fellow, focusing on education programs, evaluation, and strategic analysis.

Quarantine Saving Grace: Getting outside and running regularly. In April, I completed a 10-mile virtual race.
Happiest memory: Running Harvard’s first-generation and low-income student pre-orientation program. I used my position in student government to advocate for the programs creation and it was so fulfilling to show up to campus my junior year and guide first-years into a new life at Harvard. The newfound confidence these students developed over the course of the three-day orientation was the most fulfilling reward I’ve ever received in my work on campus.
Fun Fact: I traveled to 21 countries before my 21st birthday, my last trip being a crazy 48-hour weekend hop to Iceland with a friend a month before I turned 21.
Would you rather permanently give up sweets or salts? Salts, my sweet tooth is out of control and I could never live without sugar.
What global issue are you most eager to tackle? Access to education and opportunity.

Stories of Progress

Managing Menstrual Hygiene & Addressing Menstrual Shame
Educating young people on proper menstrual hygiene management is the first step in addressing misinformation and menstrual shame. On this year's Menstrual Hygiene Day, CFK led open discussions with adolescent girls and young women and distributed critical sanitary products.
CFK Executive Director Hillary Omala on NTV Kenya
Hillary Omala Represents Informal Settlements on NTV Kenya Panel
CFK executive director, Hillary Omala, discussed the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on residents of informal settlements during a panel discussion broadcast on NTV Kenya on April 28.
CFK 20th Anniversary
Launching the CFK Alumni Network
As a part of celebrating the 20th anniversary of CFK, we are launching the first-ever CFK volunteer alumni network, led by Yaniv Barzilai, which will invite past volunteers to reconnect and reminisce on their time in Kibera.