This morning we left Kakamega at the usual time and travelled about 40 minutes from the city into a very rural area. The foliage was very thick, green and heavy and the area looked more like the jungles we always associate with Africa.
We stopped at a poor and quite small church and all day we were astounded at the poverty in the area. As we drove up, a small emaciated child waited on a bench outside the church with the largest smile on his face. One couldn’t help gasp at his condition. He was taken into the clinic and the nurse who treated him felt he would die in about six months. There is so little one can do in these circumstances and there was a tear or two shed at dinner as we discussed him. One can’t let emotions get in the way of doing what has to be done. It is our mission to treat the people of Kenya medically. Do I wish we had a feeding or clean water program? Of course, but we can only do so much with what we have. We gave him one of the small wooden toys made by Stephen and Tim Bernard. He was delighted.
I haven’t talked about the physical difference between the people who helped us last year and their appearance this year. They are so thin and their suits and other clothing just hang on their bodies. There isn’t enough to eat and the price of gasoline and cooking fuels has skyrocketed. A litre of gasoline is about $1.80. I have yet to hear where food prices ended up. Last year, the price of maize had tripled.
We had a very busy clinic. We dewormed 318 children outside the clinic and treated 704 women, children and men inside the clinic. One person was sent to hospital, treated for a hand wound, then sent back home.
Our patients, the children especially, were dressed in rags; their bellies were full of worms and distended due to malnutrition; their eyes were infected; and so many of their heads were infected by ringworms. Gratefully, we were able to treat a large number of people who came to the door. We frequently stopped admittance to the clinic in order to clear the backlog of people as they made their way through triage, the doctors, and the medication tables. The outside line ups became quite disorderly so we closed the steel doors and brought in groups of 10 to 20 at a time and ended the clinic with only small children and babies being admitted. Tomorrow we are near this area again so we will probably see those that we were unable to treat today. Gail and Lynn phoned our pharmacist in Kisumu today for more medication. We hope we can pick it up tomorrow depending on what is available.
According to our very patient friend and assistant, Jerri Mulamba, I had very good luck today. A bird, at least I think it was a bird, pooped on my registration papers as I worked. It didn’t feel lucky when it happened but I soon saw the humour in it as one does many things in Kenya. More good news! Our malaria and typhoid patient from Monday was released from hospital today.
We got the inevitable rain around 4p today along with wind, which was unusual. The metal roofs have a way of magnifying the sounds of the people inside, the crying babies and the noise of people shouting to be heard. The medication table finished today using flashlights as it became so dark inside, they were unable to read.
I will be posting more pictures of the nurses at work, so keep in touch as I am sure you will be seeing people you know and love. What a great bunch of women they are!