No Wasted Lives celebrates women in science: dyphine NDENGA
“A love for children and the difficult situations surrounding them, coupled with the increased prevalence rates of malnutrition, gave me the drive and passion to go into nutrition.”
Dyphine Ndenga has followed this passion, and has been working as a nutrition research officer on the ComPAS study in Nairobi for the International Rescue Committee. In this research project, supported by No Wasted Lives, the team is testing simplified and unified protocols for the treatment of both severe and moderate acute malnutrition. Dyphine grew up in Sigira, a remote village in the north of Kenya, the fourth born in a family of six children. All her elder siblings were brothers, and more advantaged in terms of education. Due to her academic achievements, she was able to enrol in a course in Food Science and Nutrition at Moi University in Nairobi.
Her parents helped her financially to complete the course, but weren’t able to support her beyond this diploma because they had to help her little brother as well. Dyphine is very grateful to her parents for their support, which she didn’t take for granted as she came from a community where supporting a girl’s education was not embraced; instead it was common for women to get married at an early age.
“The sacrifice that my family had done to see me in school gave me the strength to keep pursuing my career and prove to society that it was the right thing to educate girls.”
In Kenya, there are still few female role models. Dyphine describes that she is often exposed to competition rather than mentoring support from other women. She talks of many peers who discouraged her from achieving her academic goals, and has also seen a lot of women around her who have succumbed due to hard times and frustrations, others have chosen to take different paths that are not career-related.
Against all these barriers, she continues to be encouraged by her family; “My mother always tells me that one day I will get where I want to be as long as I believe and work towards it.” For the future, Dyphine hopes to establish a nutrition centre with other skilled professionals, such as medical officers, nutritionists and physiotherapists, to dedicate their services to malnourished children.