This morning we left the Sheywe Guest House shortly after 7:00 am and drove into a very rural area of Kenya. There are no businesses around this area, and the locals must walk 4-1/2 kilometres to market on Saturday. Our clinic was set up in a Friend’s Church (Quaker) with the usual concrete floor. Two teenage girls swept the floor using a broom made from reeds. It was more of a long whisk than a broom and it raised a lot of dust. The rear of the church contained a mound of sand, wood shavings, and barbed wire. Two cows were tethered near the church walls but they were moved for their comfort and safety. I did mark the location of one cow patty just in case I wasn’t watching later on. Kenyan churches are certainly multi-functional.

We treated 676 people today, dewormed 258 children, and sent two people to hospital in our van. Neither was admitted, but an x-ray on an older gentleman indicated he had a cancerous tumour growing out of his leg. There will be little we can do for him.

We set up Jiggers clinics this year. They are not located at our clinics but in the community near us. They are run by community workers. Jiggers are a sand flea that burrows into your skin, especially in areas such as toes, feet, elbows, and buttocks. So in essence, anywhere your body touches the soil, you can be infected. It is a horrible and crippling disease when left untreated. We all wear closed toe shoes at work to protect ourselves. The floors of the homes are a main source of the flea along with yards which house chickens. The floors can be sealed with cow dung which dries to a hard finish to prevent infection. Our community workers will follow up with the patients and spray their homes to kill the flea.

Today, Gail went to our Jiggers clinic which was being held in the general area. She said that in all of her years of nursing, she had never seen anything like it. She took some photos but I won’t publish them here.

It was a hot today. If you combine the heat, dozens of patients, 24 nurses, four clinical officers, and a large dose of screaming and frightened children all in one room with a metal roof, you have a recipe for organized chaos.

The African people are a stoic lot. Children present themselves for wound care and don’t complain or exhibit pain, even when you realize that you are hurting them as much as you try not to. The average life span of a Kenyan is 48. Even among the old, you don’t see the chronic diseases that we see in Canada. Only the strong survive childhood. Think back to the times that you have been ill, and see if you would still be on this earth if you were not fortunate enough to live in Canada.

Thankfully, it didn’t rain until after we had reached a main road today. If it had rained at the clinic, we may have wished we had brought our jammies because I don’t think we would have been going too far. One of our cases on the roof of the van got quite wet, so we won’t be bringing that one back home. The latch had already died. If anyone has any cases that may be waterproof or water resistant, please hand onto them for us next year.

Take care everyone,

Dawn

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