17.08.2012 - 01.09.2012
I haven’t updated my blog in a few weeks and several people requested another “riveting” update. I’m reaching the point in the first half of my assignment where I’m over the novelty of being in Kenya and looking forward to going home on September 12th. I’ve discovered that eating out every night is not fun and why there are no Kenyan restaurants in the US. My assignment at the clinic has become work. They are using the digital pens for capturing fistula patient data but on a much slower pace than I like. I have stressed that the NGO is relying on this data for their fund-raising efforts in the US. After my break, there is another project where I will go to the remote villages with a One-by-One representative when she conducts follow up interviews and capture this data as well. The interviews are 6 months after the women have been discharged and we want to determine the impact has had on their lives. Some women are given goats or solar cell phone charging stations for the many people who don’t have electricity in their homes. That will be a welcome break from going to the office every day. I have captured the requirements for the patient records system that will be used for non-fistuala patients. This is basically the form you complete when you goto a doctor’s office yourself. Because of the literacy rate in Kenya the staff must document this information. A free software application called OpenMRS is available for small to medium sized clinics. My goal is to install and customize OpenMRS at Gynocare, and then train the staff on using it in their daily work.
Two weeks ago I went back to Kisumu along with another GSK Pulse volunteer from Nairobi Garret Dunn. We took a ferry out on Lake Victoria to Rusinga Island with the 4 people based in Kisumu. This is the place to go if you want to really get away from everything. Our driver from the OGRA foundation came with us and we drove the 22 miles around the island. We stopped several times to check out the beaches from a high point and look out at the lake. The views are spectacular with nothing but the locals’ small houses and farmland. I kept thinking if this was the US, every inch of coastline would have huge houses with docks surrounding this island. Every little kid on the island waved and called out the now familiar “Mzungu” to us. Many did not speak English. I found out later that they speak the tribal language Luo. While driving along we spotted a sign for ‘Beach Resort’ and turned down the road. A woman named Linda from Washington, DC lived there. She had married a man from Kenya many years ago and had recently moved back after he died. I didn’t ask if this was President Obama’s real mother in hiding. Several small guest huts were being built each accommodating two people. It was right on the beach with great views of the surrounding hills. We looked around while taking coffee. The only other hotel is the Rusinga Island Lodge (www.rusinga.com) where we attempted to have lunch but it required reservations. Imagine that. Besides this trip I haven’t done much except work. I have been watching soccer matches in the English Premier League. People here have a favorite team that they follow very closely. The quality of play in the Kenyan league is not the same quality. Games from the Spanish & Italian league are also shown on TV. Anyone who wants to hear about my tour of the Eldoret cheese factory last weekend will have to setup an appointment for when I get home.
Next Friday I am going with the Kisumu group on a long weekend safari to the Maasai Mara. Joan from the UK will have her two grown children along. This will be the Africa that I expected. We are staying at a nearby hotel (http://www.serenahotels.com/serenamara/default-en.html) and take several trips into the park. I’ll take lots of pictures and update my blog before I leave for home.
Now some observations to finish the sentence You know you’re in Kenya when…
• ..the word Hotel does not mean a place to stay. Most likely it is a butcher shop.
• ..you never see any kind of postal, delivery or trash truck. Most trash is simply burned.
• ..you answer that call on your cell phone and talk very loudly to your bff no matter if you are in the middle of a meeting, a meeting, or in a movie theatre.
• ..driving is an all out sport with no rules and driving on the shoulder or other side of the road can be expected.
• ..70 degree weather is cause to bundle up in thick coats & hats like it’s 40 degrees at home (note this does not apply to wimpy people who live in FL)
• ..the best cuts of meat including filets & chicken breasts mysteriously cannot be found anywhere.
• ..your choices of wine out of a box are red or white / sweet or dry.
• ..drinks are served room temperature if you don’t specify. Ice is an unknown substance.
• ..anyone who approaches you with the words “Hello my friend” is never a good thing.
• ..every house or group of houses has a protective fence around it and guard manning the gate.