Center for Arts in Medicine

Community Engagement


AIM for Africa: Kenya

Led by Dr. David Akombo, then a UF doctorasl student in ethnomusicology, an arts in medicine program was established at the Mater Hosptial in Nairobi in partnership with the Center for Arts in Medicine. The partnership incuded artists exchanges, cultural events, medical student externships, and online connections between university classes at UF and Kenyatta University.


Supported in part by a grant from the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs in 2006, the Mater Hospital Arts in Medicine program is thriving today, and brings the arts to patients, caregivers, and the Nairobi community. The Mater’s CEO, Medical Director, and full-time Arts in Medicine Coordinator work together with Artist in Residence and a host of volunteer artists and performers to enhance the medical experience of patients and caregivers through music, dance, the visual arts, writing, and theatre.


The AIM for Africa: Kenya program hosted exchanges between Kenya and Florida that allow artists to share the cultural traditions. To date, four exchanges have taken place.

Florida 2006: The project’s first cultural exchange brought Kenyan singer/songwriter Suzanna Owiyo to Florida for seven weeks in the summer of 2006.  During her visit Suzanna participated in the Arts in Healthcare Summer Intensive training program, was in residence with Shands Arts in Medicine, presented numerous public performances, and undertook short resiencies at Shands Hospital in Jacksonville and at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Nairobi 2006: In October of 2006, Center for Arts in Medicine co-director emeritus Rusti Brandman and AIM Artist in Residence Madeline Austin traveled to Nairobi, Kenya for a two-week residency at the Mater Hospital. 

Nairobi 2007: In the summer of 2007, Center for Arts in Medicine director, Jill Sonke was in residence in Nairobi, working at the Mater Hospital, at the GoDown Comunity Arts Center, and visiting with traditional healers in rural areas.

Florida 2008: In the summer of 2008, Rebecca Ngawa from Gertrudes Children’s Hospital in Nairobi received a scholarship from the Center for Arts in Medicine for a one-month residency in Florida that included participation in the Arts in Healthcare Summer Intensive training program and work with the Shands Arts in Medicine program. 

Virtual Collaboration, 2008: Drs. Benson Njoroge and Nicholas Gkonyo of Kenyatta University discuss herbal medicine in Kenya with the Culture, Health, and the Arts inSub- Saharan Africa and the U.S class at the University of Florida in February 2008.

Kigali, Rwanda, 2010: Mater Arts in Medicine program coordinator presented the Mater Arts in Medicine program as a best practice model at the East-Central Africa Arts and Health Forum in Kigali, Rwanda.



The AIM for Africa project spurred the implementation of Culture, Health, and the Arts in Sub- Saharan Africa and the U.S., a new course at the University of Florida. The course explores the roles of culture and the arts in healthcare in these diverse nations and includes a live web-based open classroom interface between UF and Mater Hospital.  For more information, students may contact Nina Stoyan-Rosensweig at

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