01.12.2012 - 04.12.2012
It’s now December and there are less than two weeks left on my assignment. This has been a very unique experience and I’m glad that GSK gave me this opportunity. The “itch” to give back has been satisfied and I’m ready to go home. It also has been very hard being away from my family for so long. The 8 hour time difference makes it difficult to talk during the week as I’m often asleep before the girls come home from school at 3pm. So it’s time to wrap up my ‘Off to Kenya’ blog. I appreciate all of the comments and e-mails that I have received. Every morning I look forward to e-mails from home. Now it’s almost time to become BJ from Haddonfield again instead of the mzungu from Eldoret.
What have I been doing the past 3 month? Basically just going to work same as if I was at home. My assignment to an IT position is more geared towards office work. If only my skills were in bridge building or animal husbandry could I hope to get out of the office more. I hope the staff at Gynocare has benefited by having an IT person on site. The data collection project I was sent her to implement has been successful. The information on women receiving the fistula repairs can now be used to identify at-risk women and increase fund raising efforts. My role in the past 2 months has been to train the staff on improving the quality of their information and why this data is important. I have also been involved in updating the clinic’s web site and infrastructure. But I still get the usual question of “Hey can you help fix my computer”.
This is my last weekend in Eldoret as I’m going to Kisumu next week to meet with my coworkers and Garret from Nairobi (soon to become Garret from Chapel Hill again). I’d say my expectation of sports on television has decreased dramatically. On Friday I was at a local establishment watching a Uganda/South Sudan soccer game on one screen, and a Kenya/Fiji rugby game on another. Both were comical. The soccer game played in Uganda’s national stadium was the worst field I’ve ever seen. Worst than the HMHS field if you can believe that. Huge mud puddles and hardly any grass on the field. The quality of play is well below what I regularly see in the English Premier League on the weekends. I’ve never watched an entire soccer game in my life until I got here. Like most Americans I didn’t like the 0-0 games and lack of scoring. But watching teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea & Manchester City, I have come to appreciate how talented these players are.
This weekend did deliver one find. A coworker from the UK commented that there were no Irish pubs in Kenya. Most countries have them. Last year Nancy & I went into one in Rome to have a pint and because they were showing American football. We also saw one near our hotel in Paris. I’m sitting between a doctor from Uganda and a teacher/priest from Zambia playing ‘guess how old the mzungu is’. They honestly told me that they have a hard time determining how old white people are. I bought them both a round after they guessed accurately that I was 25 ;->. One guy asked me if I’d been to the Irish pub in town yet. I had him walk me there as it was in a non-descript office building on the 3rd floor. For a few minutes I was nervous where this guy was taking me. I found out he was a priest the next day. I was delighted to find an upscale restaurant owned by an Irishman who was married to a Kenyan. Sheppard’s pie was a welcome treat over goat nyoma choma.
Now I’m finishing up last minute items at work and starting to pack. I have grown accustomed to this place and the people I have met and want to thank certain individuals. Jared the office manager was told by Dr Mabeya to make sure BJ is happy here. We have become good friends inside and outside of work. He welcomed me into his home and always made sure that I made it home safely. Also thanks to Jared’s wife Faith who allowed him to spend so much time with me. Frank the personal trainer from the gym keeps me laughing while he putting me through killer workouts that I would never do on my own. Dr Mabeya and his family for being so welcoming to me and always showed concern for my well-being while in Kenya. He encouraged me to see the country and tell others in the US about it. Most tourists never see anything except Nairobi and the Mara while on safari vacations. Kenya has beaches, mountains, lakes and a lot more than what you see in National Geographic. The office staff at Gynocare - Jeekay, Edna, Leena, Daniel & many more who have treated me as a coworker rather than a foreigner, and shared their expanding office space with me. Ransoon & Martha who invited me to their wedding and included me in the Kenyan marriage ceremony. Finally to the cooks, maids and staff at Gracemont that became my home for 6 months. It’s been an adventure, but like Dorothy said “There’s no place like home”.