Over the past two summers, the Center for African Studies supported Tom Osborn (College '20) to travel to Kenya and work on the Shamiri (Swahili for “thrive”) project. Tom is concentrating in Psychology with a secondary in Computer Science. He is the President of the Harvard Africa Business and Investment Club and resides in Eliot House.
The Shamiri project is a wellness and academic functioning intervention developed for adolescent high school students in Kibera, Kenya. Tom worked with five diverse schools located in Nairobi and Kiambu counties of Kenya to both investigate the prevalence, risk factors and cultural correlates of youth depression and anxiety, as well as examine the efficacy of an evidence – based intervention protocol that uses positive psychology and life skills to improve individual wellness and resilience. He engaged with five schools and over 650 high school students in Africa’s large slums, tackling depressions and anxiety disorders through group based and peer led therapies. They saw statistically significant reduction in their levels of depressions and anxiety and an overwhelming number of students were extremely excited about their experience. He continued conducting data analyses over the coming months to investigate if the intervention worked when compared with the control group and one of the research papers has been published: Depression and Anxiety Symptoms, Social Support, and Demographic Factors Among Kenyan High School Students.
Tom reflected on his summers in Kibera: "Beyond the academic implications, Shamiri has presented me with an opportunity to gain invaluable firsthand experience of the research process and a glimpse into the world of academia. Indeed, this experience will be beneficial as I contemplate graduate school and other opportunities available in academia, the public sector as well as the private sector."
Students at Olympic High School participating in Study Activities.
Students at Elite Vision High School participating in Study Activities.
Tom Osborn (right) with the Shamiri project.