ZAMBIA — A Murray State graduate and Peace Corp volunteer is working to provide shelter for mothers in the east African nation of Zambia. 

Leah Krause is a Missouri native who came to Murray State pursuing her love of running. After her time at MSU, she went on to work in the Peace Corp, where she is currently working to raise funds to build a maternal shelter for expectant and new mothers in Zambia. 

“I grew up in St. Charles, Missouri and ran cross country and track and field in high school. Running is what led me to Murray State; I liked the cross country and track program and was offered a scholarship to be a student athlete at Murray State,” Krause said via email. “I studied sociology with a minor in psychology. I’ve always enjoyed learning about people, especially of different cultures. My interest in Peace Corps started in high school, when a Peace Corps Volunteer shared her experience with us.” 

She said she felt her time at Murray State helped to prepare her for the work in which she is currently engaged.

“I believe my time at Murray prepared me for my job here in Peace Corps,” Krause said. “First, my studies in sociology and psychology focused on learning about people from different cultures, which has helped me navigate cultural differences here in Zambia, as well as respecting and valuing Zambian culture. Secondly, I believe a huge factor in my preparation for being a volunteer here was the cross country and track team. My coaches instilled determination, commitment and resiliency in me. All things that have proven necessary to do this job.” 

Krause said that after graduating from Murray State in 2016, she decided she wanted to get a master’s degree in social work before ultimately joining the Peace Corp. 

“I returned home to go to the University of Missouri where I received my MSW in 2018. This program intensified my desire to help others and increased my ability to work with people from different cultures,” she said. “In January 2018, I’d been chosen to become a health volunteer in Zambia.”

Krause has been living in Zambia for almost a year-and-a-half, and said that she will be there for a total of two years. 

“I am in a rural town in Northwestern Province, Zambia. I live in a thatched house without electricity and running water,” she said. “Specifically, I work alongside community volunteers, clinic staff, and teachers to spread health awareness and education. We work on HIV/AIDS prevention and education as well as promoting maternal and child health, nutrition and malaria education.

“I also have taught community health volunteers about ways in which they can best spread information in their areas, as well as how they can provide accurate information. I also work with clinic staff at the local clinic on spreading health information. Our clinic serves about 15,000 people and therefore the community health volunteers are vital to spreading information and teaching the community. I will be serving in Zambia for 10 more months, completing my service in October 2020.”

Krause said the clinic she is working at serves a very large population, and that at time people have to walk almost 30 miles to receive health care. She said this is a major issue for everyone, especially pregnant women. 

“We are currently working on funding a project to construct a maternal shelter. This would be a place for mother’s to stay prior to and after giving birth,” Krause said. “Currently women have two options, either to walk home and come back for their postpartum checkups or rent a room in someone’s house who lives near the clinic. Both of these are difficult options.

“Often times, women and families have little money and find it difficult to rent a nearby room. Secondly, walking far distances after birth can be dangerous for both the mother and child, especially if there are complications already. If a mother’s shelter is built, it is our hope this will lessen the burden for women as well as clinic staff in assisting those who have complicated births.”

Krause said that she was hoping those in her communities back home could help provide some of the funding needed for the shelter. Currently, a fundraiser through the Peace Corps website has raised $5,274 of the $9,833 goal. To donate and learn more, visit https://www.peacecorps.gov/donate/projects/kashima-safe-motherhood-maternal-shelter-pp-19-611-028/ n

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