Inspired to Act - Improving Health in Kenya

Shippensburg University steered Lindsay Bingaman ’12 toward a new chapter in her life, although it wasn’t through the traditional route. Bingaman earned a degree in history and secondary education from Ship, but her studies ultimately led to a career in improving the health of some of the world’s poorest children.

It started with a world geography class that inspired her interest in traveling. Later, a European political studies seminar sparked her fascination in different cultures.

“My studies at Ship ignited a social justice flame inside of me,” said the Greencastle native. “It taught me that we should be global citizens and think outside of the comfort of our lives in suburban Pennsylvania.”

Last March, she began working for Evidence Action as a senior associate for the Deworm the World Initiative in Kenya, Africa. Evidence Action is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and lives of people in Africa and Asia.

“Kenya is an amazing place full of extremely hard working people,” Bingaman said. “Unfortunately, there are large populations here who cannot overcome poverty due to disease.”

Parasitic worm infections, while virtually nonexistent in developed countries, remain endemic in many of the world’s poorest countries. The infections can lead to malnourishment and pose a serious threat to a person’s long-term health

. Children are particularly vulnerable, because malnourishment can stunt their growth and development. More than 836 million children are at risk of parasitic worm infections worldwide, according to a 2016 report by the World Health Organization.

Deworm the World partners with local schools, governments, and health-care systems to administer treatments to schoolage children in several countries.

Bingaman helps coordinate and supervise deworming efforts throughout Kenya, working closely with the Kenyan Ministries of Health and Education. Her team is currently planning for a new round of deworming to take place in several remote regions of the country this year.

Bingaman also coordinates closely with other Evidence Action offices worldwide to ensure they are carrying out the most effective program possible.

“All of our programs and decisions are based on rigorous research,” she said. “We want to make sure we are using lessons learned to make our work as efficient as possible.”

The deworming treatment is simple and cost effective. It consists of a pill, available in chewable form for children and costs less than 50 cents per child per year on average.

In Kenya alone, Evidence Action has provided deworming treatment to 6 million children.

“I am excited to see the advances that Kenya is making. It’s possible that parasitic worm diseases could be eliminated within our lifetime, and it’s amazing to be a part of something that has real impact on children.”

This is not Bingaman’s first experience in Africa. Two years ago, she lived in Kenya while working for a USAID project devoted to building peace and stability in Somalia.

“I fell in love with Kenya and its people,” she said. “Every day is different, which is what I love about this work and living here.”

Her day typically begins with a morning run, much like her time at Ship. As a member of the Ship track team, Bingaman made All-American in 2012 with the women’s distance medley relay at indoor NCAAs, placing in the top eight nationally. She also completed a minor in coaching for track.

She then rides a bicycle two miles to her office, often stopping at a favorite roadside stand for breakfast

 After work, she frequently climbs at a gym with friends. She climbs for fun, and to quench her continual thirst for adventure. Bingaman recently completed an eighteen-hour, eleven-pitch climb on Mount Ololokwe in Kenya.

“When you are on the side of a cliff, you can see the world from a different point of view,” she said. “It’s unreal to have birds soaring past your head, and you think to yourself, ‘Wow, I am not supposed to be up here, but how cool is it that I am doing it anyway?’”

Her dream is to open a climbing gym in Africa someday and teach the sport to a new generation of children.

“So much inequality exists in the world. I want to do as much as I can to ensure that children all over the world have access to equal opportunities.”