Kenya: From Keiyo to Barcelona - the Humble Village Boy Creating Healthcare Solutions

Titus Kipruto considers himself very privileged to have landed a career in medicine, which was his childhood dream. But what pleases him even more, is the fact that he is able to positively change lives on a global scale through his work as an expatriate based in Spain.

LONG DISTANCE

Titus, a 27-year-old graduate of Informatics from Moi University, is a software developer and trainer at Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).

However, his journey has not been the pleasure cruise it might sound like. It has been a long winding path of multiple failures, sometimes despair, requiring perseverance and grit.

"I grew up in a remote village in Keiyo in Elgeyo Marakwet County. I wanted to become a doctor so that I could save my community from the agony of walking for long distances in search of healthcare services," Titus recounts.

"My uncle was a doctor, which further fuelled my desire. I wanted to emulate him," he adds.

But this was not to be.

"In my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams, I fell slightly short of the cut-off points needed to pursue a degree in medicine. I was devastated," he narrates.

Titus initially enrolled for a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology at Moi University, but he later decided to study Informatics. Although medicine was his dream career, he had always been fascinated by computers as a young boy.

As he continued with his IT studies, Titus dedicated his skills to developing digital health solutions and medical apps. He felt that this placed him closer to his desired career path.

"My most memorable app was Diabetes Pro, a tracking tool custom made for diabetes patients. I developed this app as part of my course project. It was a support tool to remind diabetes patients when to take their pills," he says.

HUMBLE BOY

Titus also designed Health Information Management Systems (HIMS) for several health facilities in Kenya as a student. After graduating from university in 2015, he worked briefly at a local health organisation.

It is then that MSF advertised a job in his area of expertise. Armed with his extensive skills in software development with a bias for digital health solutions, but without much hope, Titus applied for it. Later when he beat tens of other candidates to the job, he knew that his dream had started to take shape.

"For many years, I had imagined that job opportunities within international organisations were a preserve of certain individuals. As a humble boy from a family of peasants, I had only my hard work and determination to count on," he says in retrospect.

MSF is an independent international medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by war and other epidemics across the world.

After several months of training in Kenya, Titus' career got off to an exciting start. First, he was posted to the organisation's missions in Ethiopia, Nigeria and war-torn South Sudan, where he worked for two years.

Towards the end of last year, he was posted to Barcelona, Spain, where is currently based.

So, what does his work involve?

"As an e-Learning specialist, my job is to develop personalised e-Learning and health innovation tools for MSF staff in Africa, Asia, South America and other parts of the world. I also test the functionality and track the performance of the different apps and software that we use in our work," he explains.

EMPOWERMENT

"Besides software development, I am involved in providing workers with training to ensure that the emergency medical aid we deliver to different parts of the world is of high standards," Titus explains.

"I may not be directly in touch with the affected persons, but my role is to build and develop the capacity of humanitarian aid workers wherever there is a crisis" he adds.

Thanks to his role, Titus now visits different European countries with MSF teams to respond to medical emergencies. He savours the travel experiences.

"Working outside the country has been very beneficial to me both professionally and socially. My interactions with people of different nationalities in my line of duty have shaped my outlook of life in many ways," says Titus, adding that he can now work and live confidently anywhere in the world, something that seemed almost impossible while he was growing up in the village.

Titus has not abandoned his dream of pursuing a course in medicine and becoming a medical doctor someday. For now, however, he is happy to impact other people's lives through training and support.

As a way of giving back to his community, he has partnered with community empowerment groups in his village.

Through their outreach programmes, he seeks to inspire school children and youth in his home county by encouraging them to pursue their dreams despite the challenges standing in their way.

"You can work for any organisation in any part of the world as long as you have good work ethics and the right attitude. The prestigious jobs out there are open to whoever is most qualified for them, irrespective of nationality, gender or background," he says.

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