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Upenyu was founded in December 2009 by seniors at Princeton and Duke Universities. Eager to do something concrete, we made contact with a rural hospital in Zimbabwe, Nyadire Hospital. Nyadire offered their support, and so we began to sketch out a project that could help the people in the area.


We decided to focus on a couple of parasitic worm diseases that cause kids to urinate blood and fail at school. Infection rates in the area were suspected to be quite high. And it turned out to be a very easy disease to treat -- only $0.25 of pharmaceutical drugs could rid a child of four different species of parasite.


Family and friends contributed to our funds, Princeton mentors offered sage advice, and infection disease experts helped us hone our science.


Then in September 2010, the team -- six of us now, recently-graduated -- climbed aboard a plane headed for Zimbabwe, with two microscopes, a couple of WHO manuals, and everything we needed for a year of living in rural Zimbabwe.


Work was not easy, and for several months we cleaned up the consequences of our naivete. We struggled to understand the dynamics of medicine and non-profit work in Zimbabwe, and toiled towards government approval for our work. The aptitude and openness of Zimbabweans was of invaluable help. Numerous people took us under their wings and helped us along as we went.


Finally, in April 2011, we were all set, and Upenyu began its first program -- treating 5,000 children for a series of parasitic worm diseases that make kids urinate blood and fail at school. This would be the national pilot program for helminth control ("helminth" refers to all those parasitic worms) in Zimbabwe. Part of the program was to obtain reliable data on the rates of infection, and on the effectiveness of our treatment. The baseline results showed that, just before we treated, about 40% of kids were infected with each of two kinds of helminth diseases: schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths.


Since then, things have moved quickly. Keep track of our progress by following our news stories.