Dear Friends, Family, Colleagues:
I have a special request for contributions to help a PhD student of mine, Collins Muhadia Bisia, cover medical costs for stomach cancer.
About Collins and why I want to help
Collins was my MSc student at IHE Delft, Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, and graduated in 2019. I know him well because I was his mentor for his research thesis, which he did in Kenya and the Netherlands. Here he is on graduation day.
Collins was part of a special cohort of bright, talented, and hardworking students from Kenya and Uganda, all of whom have been awarded PhD fellowships since then, and who are deeply committed to improving the situation in their home countries. They continue to work together to this day, and because they all did their MSc research in Kenya, still call themselves "Brilliant Team Kenya."
Collins’s research stood out because he drew on multiple fields – sanitation science, environmental water quality, and social science – to evaluate risks of using small ponds for drinking water for both people and animals. He did this work in a water-scarce, arid region in Kenya, and continues this work for his PhD research.
Collins’s approach to his MSc research was so creative and ambitious that I invited him to teach with me in sessions with incoming MSc students on integrating disparate fields in research. We are now about to submit his MSc work for publication to an excellent journal called Science for the Total Environment. Here is Collins taking water samples at one of the water holes in Kenya.
On a personal level, I know Collins first as someone with very high integrity, kindness, and gentle humor. Known in our faculty group at IHE as “the quiet, clever one,” he is thoughtful and tends to speak only when he has something meaningful to say. He is 30 years old, the eldest son of six siblings, and takes responsibility for others in his family, financially and otherwise. He dreamed of being a scientist since grade school and growing up in western Kenya (Kitale), he worked hard to gain a scholarship for his university studies in Nairobi, and subsequently earned two international scholarships to pursue his MSc and PhD degrees from the Netherlands and Germany.
Since I have known Collins as he has traveled along his academic path, he has been steady, positive, and forward looking, even through attempts, failures, and diversions, until finally reaching his goal. His approach to his cancer is no different than this. While navigating diagnosis, treatment, and financing in Kenya, he has tried to optimize realistic options with a positive outlook that has been truly inspiring. That is why I am asking for help -- so that this talented young man has all possible chances to pursue his dreams.
Collins’ situation and needs
Unfortunately, Collins was suffering with stomach problems for quite some time. It was always diagnosed as gastritis, and he pushed through with field work month after month despite the growing pain in his stomach. This was finally diagnosed as stomach cancer earlier this month, with the recommendation that he start chemotherapy treatment right away. Thankfully, his hosting institution in Kenya, International Livestock Research Institute, was able to enroll him in their local staff insurance, which will cover some, but not all of his treatment. He therefore still needs funds to cover co-pays, treatment for side-effects, support for his family, and transportation. Most importantly, funds are needed to help support treatment at one of the better hospitals in Nairobi with one of the most experienced oncologists in Kenya.
Fund-raising for Collins is also supported by the institute that has awarded him this PhD Fellowship, ATSAF (in English, Council for Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural Research). This is a German institution, and you can find their crowd-funding request on their home page at this link) and in their social networks.
In addition to these efforts, I am starting this fund-raiser via Go Fund ME to make it easier for my community (many from the US) to contribute in a way that is familiar, does not require an international bank transfer, or use PayPal. I will keep you updated on both efforts, and any extra funds beyond our initial request of $8000 will be used for pending medical costs, other insurance coverage, or to help support Collins's family.
If you can help, please contribute via this Go Fund Me or follow this link to Paypal that ATSAF is managing: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=ATDTLXJRQ3DWJ.
If you use the ATSAF link, please drop me a private message to let me know, as I cannot monitor the identity of donors. (I can be reached at email@example.com.)
You may also use MPESA (Kenya) to send a contribution to me at +254 791807309. Please reference Collins in the description, and I will send it to him.
Thank you so much for your help. Your support means everything to Collins, his family, his fellow students, and to me.