You might think a medical student, miles from her home in Maui would feel helpless as she watched videos of her home island on fire. But “helpless” is not a word that would describe Kenya Sherman. Not by a long shot.
Within days of learning about the tragedy unfolding in Maui, the second-year med student mobilized a group of faculty and fellow students from Kansas City University and tapped into two international organizations that agreed to help.
“Maui is my home and they are my people,” explained Sherman. “They are going through a time of pain and crisis. I knew I needed to jump in.”
Sherman, who grew up in Maui has many family members who live there. Thankfully, they are all safe. Sherman’s aunt, Robin Garrison, is a nurse practitioner working with a nonprofit organization told her niece of the urgent need for supplies, such as medicine, burn kits, PPE, solar chargers, baby formula, diapers and hygiene products.
As soon as Sherman put the word out, the supplies rolled in, from fellow students, faculty and the outside groups. By the time Kenya boarded her flight from Kansas City, she had 1,000 pounds of products packed into 19 bags, and a letter from Dr. Gautam Desai, KCU’s chair of Primary Care, which convinced American Airlines to transport all 19 bags free of charge.
When she arrived home, she spent four days sorting and distributing supplies to people and organizations in need. While her brief mission home was marked by a sense of deep sadness, Sherman is proud of her community and will remain an advocate in the future.
“Everyone takes care of each other right now,” she said. “We need to find a way to keep that spirit going into the future.”
Sherman’s efforts were documented by a Kansas City news reporter who followed her journey. You can watch the story of Kenya’s preparation for the trip by clicking here and her thoughts after she arrived back in Kansas City in the segment above.
The message she most wants to get out to the KCU community is “Mahalo nui loa- thank you very much. We are grateful. We feel your aloha. We feel your love.”