Yesterday, the nursing group got together to iron out last minute details. This is the last of numerous meetings that have dealt with fundraising, collections of medical supplies and the numerous logistics of taking such a trip. Each volunteer has had to arrange suitable time off work, ensure passports are current, apply for a visa, get proper immunizations, fund raise, and pack suitcases for oneself and to carry a maximum amount of goods.
I want you to get to know us. Gail Wolters, our mission leader, is the founder of this organization. It all started with a fundraiser she organized for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Through this initiative, she met Aggrey Mulamba, a nurse from Kenya, now living in Canada. He has maintained strong ties to Kenya and has turned his family home into an orphanage and assists a group of Aids widows and widowers. He was very open to the idea of a medical mission and mobilized his contacts, Kenyan nurses, politicians, and family members, all of whom share his passion to help. Without his assistance, Canadian Nurses for Africa wouldn’t have been able to work in a safe or effective environment.
The mission partners with local nurses. Last year, we put on eight clinics on consecutive days, each in a different area of the Kakamega–Kisumu area of western Kenya. We treated 2500 people and were able to provide free medication thanks to the generosity of our community. Setting up a clinic each day was hard work but shutting down the clinic late in the day without the opportunity to help everyone still in line was a heart wrenching experience. Dealing with the long hours, the heat, the dust, odours, and sights was a challenge for all of us.
The first mission was a valuable learning experience. Our goal is to eventually see the Kenyan nurses conduct clinics with our assistance but not necessarily our physical presence. Our goal this year is to assist more people, take the sickest to hospital and pay their treatment fees, have water and cups so medications can be taken at the clinic, and have an area where the sickest can be monitored for a few hours.
We leave on April 30th. As the trip progresses, I will introduce you to the 2010 group and show you photos. Stay in touch and follow our journey. Many thanks to everyone who contributed in anyway to this mission. If it wasn’t for you, the mission would only be a dream.