Kenya update: on the ground

Blog, Mission 2024 Jambo from Kenya, we have had a wild ride with technology connection but here we are. we have been in an area of Kenya called Kakamega since last week and have already had 9 of our scheduled clinics… time flies when you are doing good in the world! Each clinic we have seen anywhere from 500-600 deserving Kenyan’s. For many of these people they haven’t had access to health care since last year…. Something most of us cannot imagine. We have been so fortunate to learn from our Kenyan partners … the nurses, Clinical officers and the community health partners. There have been so many amazing moments of connection and sharing. One really neat thing we have been working on this year is the Maternal Health program…. While it’s great to offer assessment, treatment and medication in our medical camps, it is also important to help further the education of the people who will be supporting new moms when we leave. The educational program is being so well received and the Maternal program group have been overjoyed with the great strides they are making…. Good job team. Our medical camps have been working closely with the ongoing local Jiggers program, to treat…

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Post Weekend Update

Well Friday was a busy day like expected, with many triaged,  numerous wounds dressed  and medications were handed out.  We also made a couple hospital trips, one van load again with two nurses for some more tests like X-ray and ultrasounds.  Sadly we encountered out first very ill patient who had to be physically carried in by family and friends, she was brought by on the experienced nurses to hospital in hopes to be admitted for care and treatment.  There was a lot of issues with test results, treatment and transfers amongst hospitals, but our nurse left this young 21 year old girl in the hospital with an emergency contact number so that we could help her recieve the care she needed to get better.  Saturday we had a half day with a party- Well we were told it was a half day but if you do the hours it was more of a 75% day. The day flew by as us Canadian nurses, Kenya nurses, chief medical officer were all looking forward to some relaxing fun time together that afternoon.  Despite a light rain fall, we still managed to enjoy some pizza, candy, and drinks together after the rain stopped..the rain made the dance…

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2024 CNFA Trip- post one, better late the never.

Hi everyone ! I am Cassidy , and I will be the blogger for the 2024 nursing trip , along with my friend Amberly … we are new to this team this year and we’ve quickly developed the nickname of the “dream team” so I think everyone had some high hopes for this blog when we were picked for this… but I mean it’s better late then never , and I’ll explain why it’s late later on…we are newbies at this mission and the blogging scene so bare with us please .  So here we finally go… On May 2nd 2024 , 15 nurses from across Canada began the 2024 nursing mission .  After a couple long , and even cold( freezing some might say ) plane rides , we finally arrived late in the evening in Nairobi, Kenya on May 3rd .  We spent the day of May 4th doing some team bonding , and attempted to beat the jet lag by visiting the Giraffe Centre , Karen Blixen museum , and the African heritage house .  While our luggage ( personal and donations ) went on a road trip to kakamega as the suitcases were deemed to be too big for the plane in the…

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Ready for Departure – Mission 2023: Post Pandemic

As we finalize our packing, review our checklists, sit on that suitcase to get it closed....our team is in the final stretches of readying themselves for departure, and are extremely excited. Tomorrow will be a day of emotion...for those who are reuniting once again to carry out our mission and for those who will be joining us for the first time. Some may be experiencing some anxieties or trepidation, uncertainty of what to expect, but mostly excitement at being able to see our wonderful friends and colleagues in Kenya. Some will be able fulfill some life long career and life goals, to provide some measure of help and hope to those who do not have the ability to obtain the necessary care that they need. The first few days or our journey will be long full days of travel... think plains, trains, and automobiles...well maybe not trains but you get the idea. We depart at 1835 hours April 27, least that's what my ticket says, from Toronto to Nairobi. Some of our team will have a longer day as they travel from their homes across the country. We have some members scattered around southern Ontario and a western contingent coming from Alberta. I will…

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2023 Mission

The final countdown is on for our 2023 Mission. Merely 3 more sleeps until we depart. Are we excited??? Heck yes!! Some trepidation? Probably. After 3 years of not being able to provide care to the people of the Vihiga District what is in store for us remains a mystery. I anticipate that our clinic numbers will be over 1000, but we will have to wait and see. As we travel to our location the first few blogs will be an introduction to our 2023 team. We have 12 nurses participating this year, all very experienced, willing and excited.

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*New Project Alert* CNFA’s COVID-19 Food Distribution Program

On Monday, June 29th, CNFA launched the COVID-19 Food Distribution Program in our communities around Vihiga. Thank you so much for your donations, and a special shout out to our amazing Kenyan teammates helping to prepare and distribute the food! Check out our Projects page for more info!

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Clinic Day 11 – Hamadira – Izava South

Our last day! This morning the tables turned and we sang and danced for the people of Kenya before clinic - with our lead singer Harriet. It was a very busy and steady clinic with the line being all the way out the door all day long. Today Johnstone, Karen, Laura and I treated this family for jiggers and supplied them with clothing and shoes. The mother of these children is only 30 years old and has a total of 14 children. Every day she goes out in the community looking for any work she can find so that she can provide for her family. Our clinic was so dark inside with no power that Harriet and Kristen had to do wound care outside. We finished off our last night in Kenya with a big buffet dinner from the owners of the Sheywe Guest House. It was so good that Marie went back for thirds. And maybe fourths, I lost count. Of course we had to end our dinner with Jerry singing the Hakuna Matata song that we all love. Oh Jer Bear!!

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Clinic Day 10 – Homanoywa – Izava North

Today we transferred a 60 year old lady with an injured ankle to the hospital.  Marie and Karen dewormed over 300 students at the primary school.  Kenyan nurses Roselyne and Sarah and volunteer worker Joyce taught us how to reggae was quite the show, highly entertaining but we clearly have zero rhythm.  With one clinic day remaining, we had a blast today singing and dancing with all of the patients who came through triage!

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Clinic Day 9 – Kedohi – West Maragoli

Our clinic today was in the same yard as an elementary school so we had a lot of children running around, we even tried to teach them how to do the “floss” dance. Victor and I went on two home visits - one to see an elderly man who had fractured his femur and had two surgeries back in December and needed pain control, and the other to see a young 6 year old boy who is a known epileptic and has had a decreased appetite for the last few days. He also has weekly follow up appointments at the Mbale Hospital.  We finally found the perfect lucky lady for the St. Paddy’s Day hat, scarf and socks. This lady was so happy about her new pants that she had tears in her eyes!

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Clinic Day 8 – Viyalo – Chavakali

Today Laura, Harriet and I went to the school next door to deworm many children from kindergarten to grade 8. We had three of the cutest albino children at the clinic today - gave them all new donated sun hats and bought them sunglasses as their biggest complaint was the sun being too hard on their eyes.  Here is Jerry modeling some sunglasses. Laura and I brought a brand new soccer ball to the school but decided we didn’t feel like getting a soccer ball to the face today so we played duck duck goose instead. This lady loved her new dress! More wound care! Nancy had a very busy day with hospital transfers - one of them being a lady who had elevated LFTs and needed an ultrasound. She also played a game of “touch the mzungu” meaning white person, with a little boy. 

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Clinic Day 7 – Chavakali

Happy Nurses Week! Here we are doing what we do best - playing cards. After a well deserved day off, it was hard to get up this morning - I was definitely the walking dead for a few minutes. We started the morning off with our daily seagull selfie. At triage, Meaghan had half her hair ripped out by a 7 month old.  Laura, Gail and I fixed this lovely lady with a new hat and matching scarf - she was so happy. Kristen, Karen and Meaghan dewormed many children at a nearby school. Throughout the mission we’ve tried to master the African way of carrying large objects on your head. Update on the bug zoo in Laura and I’s room - there’s no update, we’re too afraid to check.

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“What direction are we going?” “South north”

Since it was our day off, we split up into two groups - half of us went to the Kakamega rainforest and the other half to the crying stone and Lake Victoria to see the hippos. In the rainforest we saw lots of monkeys, Isiukhu falls and a beautiful high point overlooking 270 square kilometres of untouched forest. Thankfully we were too blessed to be stressed and I didn’t get swallowed by a giant snake. 

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Clinic Day 6 – Igunga – Chavakali

We were dropping like flies today - three members of our dream team had to stay back from clinic because they were sick but at least they had the toilet to keep them company.  Jerry started off morning prayer by reading the bible for us today.  Being Saturday, it was a shorter clinic day. We treated about 360 people. We had a lot of children at the clinic today so we gave out lots of clothing and toys, as well as colouring pictures.  We treated a lot of wounds again today - many of which were returns from previous clinics throughout the week.  Marie and I treated a wound of a young woman who got into an argument with her husband who had cut her with a knife. It was a pretty deep cut that originally needed stitches but being that it happened a few days ago, an infection had started. We cleansed and dressed it with silver cell and told her to come back to our clinic on Monday. 

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Clinic Day 5 – Kigama – North Maragoli

Today’s clinic started off a little slow but by the afternoon we had a huge wave of people come through, as well as another torrential downpour. At one point Jeff tried to put the wound care bucket on Marie’s head to shield her from the rain. Here is our Mama Gail hiding from the rain in her Maasai blanket. Hilary fixed two little girls with all new outfits. It was a day filled with wound care that was tackled by Harriet, Hilary, Victor, Marie and Kristen - we had 9 wounds cleansed and dressed. Two of which were returns - one was the same little girl, Faith, who we’ve been seeing all week for a bad burn to her arm and the other was a young man who came to our clinic last year after he’d fallen off his motorcycle. His arm has much improved since we first saw him one year ago.  Faith drew some pictures and wrote a letter thanking everyone for helping treat her - she is the sweetest little girl and so grateful. Laura and I spent the entire day at triage singing “you, over here, you, over here!” - it was a 50/50 shot on who we made laugh and…

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Clinic Day 4 – Wangulu – West Maragoli

Nancy and Kristen went on a home visit to treat an elderly lady who had a severe case of jiggers. On the way back they got their monthly workout in pushing the matatu that was stuck teeter tottering on a hill.  Harriet went to the hospital to admit a 7 year old boy with malaria who was febrile and had a seizure at home.  Lynn, Hilary and Kenyan nurse Sarah taught 40 girls about sexual health and gave them all reusable sanitary pads.  Kristen didn’t think the outhouses were bad enough so she decided to break the door off the hinges.  This is Gail with a family who gave her a live chicken as a gift to say thank you. Update 4.0: the cockroach is still under the garbage can but a moth that’s the size of a dragon joined him so it’s not so lonely. 

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Clinic Day 3 – Chavuli Pag Wodanga

Today Meaghan, Hilary and Johnstone went to three homes for jiggers treatments where they sprayed down the homes and clothing of the families and soaked their hands and feet in potassium permanganate to rid the jiggers. They also fitted the family with all new clothing.  Meaghan and Patti also went on another home visit to treat an elderly lady with cellulitis. As they were heading there, Laura asked “where are you going?” And Kenyan nurse Jane responded with “on safari!!” Marie, Harriet and I played soccer for at least two hours with 150 kids who were just booting the ball wherever and whenever they could - it was less of a game of soccer and more of a game of dodge the ball that’s coming straight for your face. At one point I subbed out with Meaghan who said “I don’t want to get hit in the face again this year” but then continued to join the game anyways. Today was Karen and Kristen’s birthdays and Hilary found out she got a new job so we celebrated with some tuskers (shocker) and cake.  We ended our clinic day with a 6km walk through the village with the locals where Victor pushed Laura and I in…

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Clinic Day 2 – Budaywa – Basali East

Laura and I slept in Kenya’s finest waterbeds last night after we left the windows open during dinner and a torrential downpour flooded our room. Today Harriet and Johnstone went on two home visits to do jiggers treatments.  Laura and Victor went on a home visit to see an older man with a leg wound who couldn’t make it to the clinic. They cleansed and dressed it and gave him supplies to do the dressing himself. They’ll follow up with him on Thursday. Heading to and from clinic in the matatu can get pretty bumpy so Nancy decided to use a soccer ball as a helmet.  Hilary and Kristen were in charge of wound care at the clinic today.  Meaghan handed out a pair of shoes to the cutest little girl who loved showing them off.  Update 2.0: Kristen’s bag finally arrived so no more borrowing donated underwear and Laura can have all of her razors back.  Update 3.0: the cockroach is still under the garbage can under Laura’s bed. 

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Clinic Day 1 – Isitsi Salvation Army Izava South

We started our day one of clinics in the village of where Solomon greeted us with song and prayer as he does every morning. Marie and Nancy had their first experience with the outdoor toilets aka holes in the ground - “they were better in the morning, you need to breath through your mouth” - Marie  and I and Kenyan nurse Rosaline assessed and handed out reading glasses to 34 people. Lynn and Kristen and Kenyan nurse Sarah taught sexual health to a classroom full of school girls.  Hilary and Marie went on a hospital transfer with 4 patients to a hospital that was about 2km away from our clinic. Two of the patients were very young with bad burns, one that was a burn that happened two years ago that we dressed and the other was a young boy who was admitted and will receive IV antibiotics. Another patient was a teenager with a swollen knee joint that was dislocated and eventually casted and the fourth patient was a young pregnant woman who was having abdominal pain.  While at the hospital, Hilary and Marie also got to “scrub in” and see a pericardial thoracentesis.  Update on Kristen’s luggage: it still hasn’t arrived but thankfully we…

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“I’ll have the vegetable curry for dinner – something new and different”

Today Karen was off to a good start when she locked herself in her room, unable to find her key and then had no running water to shower or even use the toilet.  Laura and I had a nice night with our bunk mate the cockroach that slept under Laura’s bed who we trapped under the garbage can. Today we made the short trek to Kisumu to pick up our medications at the local chemist and visit the Maasai Market for souvenirs. The bug bites and heat had Laura and I yelling “What do we want?”   “Ankles!” “When do we want them?” “NOW!”  Once we got back to the Sheywe, we sorted through all of our supplies and made piles for our 11 days of clinics. It was a long process so of course we did it with tuskers in hand.

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“I was worried about the bus at the Rosa Mystica”

Jambo! Well, after 22+ hours of planes, trains and automobiles (thank you gravol courtesy of Nancy and wine courtesy of Lufthansa airlines for making me feel like Annie from bridesmaids seeing colonial women on the wing of the plane), we’ve finally made it to Kenya. Although we’re 13 women with 439 suitcases, unfortunately Kristen’s bag got delayed in Frankfurt and won’t be arriving until at least Monday - but thankfully Laura packed enough razors for all of Kenya. After a stop on the way to check out the views of the Great Rift Valley and to grab some KFC and iced coffee in Nakuru (which had Marie and Patti asking the all important questions of “is this okay to drink?” and “will this give us diarrhea?”, our bus broke down and we had to do a quick swap for a matatu in Kisumu. Just picture stuffing 16 people into a van.  It’s safe to say that we were all ready for some tuskers when we finally got to the Sheywe.

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Final Numbers for 2018 Mission

Hey everyone! As promised, here is the final count for the total number of people seen and treated through the 11 days of clinics of the 2018 mission. We saw a total of 5,823 people in 11 clinic days. This number does not include the 315 people we treated for jiggers, the 181 people who were tested positive for malaria and treated for, the 90 wounds treated, the 405 young girls taught sexual education and given reusable sanitary pads, the 1,559 kids dewormed, and the 411 people given reading glasses. We also did 12 home visits and sent 19 people to the hospital for further treatment. We could not have made this mission possible without the help from our sponsors as well as all of the generous donations from all of you. On behalf of the 2018 CNFA team, we are so thankful and grateful for the support from your donations - you were all just as much a part of this mission!

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Last Day of Clinics – Day 11 at Hamadira

When the water works hit you like a tonne of bricks. I’m happy to report that I wasn’t the only one crying on the last day of clinics this year. Throughout the day we had a giant game of soccer and frisbee going simultaneously with all of the kids from the school - basically you had to run around dodging a soccer ball and frisbee from hitting you in the head.             Ingrid, Barb, Karen and I dewormed over 100 kids.                     We finished off our mission with a buffet dinner at the Sheywe - with all of our favourite foods from our two weeks stay - the staff knew us well. The night wasn’t complete until Jer Bear sang Hakuna Matata for us. I think it’s safe to say we all left part of our hearts with the people of Kenya - I definitely found mine right where I left it last year. Stay tuned for an update on the total number of people seen and treated in all 11 days of clinics.  

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Clinic Day 10 at Homanoywa

When I say north you say pole! Solomon started off our morning with a prayer where he thanked his friends from “the North Pole.” We had a good laugh to start off our second last day of clinics.               Priscilla went on a hospital transfer with a 7 year old girl who had a broken and dislocated elbow. She had X-rays done, her elbow reduced and placed in a cast.                 Laura, Meaghan, and Becca went with Johnstone to a school and treated 20 kids for jiggers.             Pictured below is the girls latrines that CNFA built for this school in 2014.           Today we saw a total of 559 people, along with a total of 82 jiggers treatments, 2 jiggers home visits, 300 children dewormed, gave 39 pairs of reading glasses, taught 40 young girls about sexual education and gave reusable sanitary pads, sent 2 people to the hospital for further treatment, treated 4 wounds, and out of 36 RDTs for malaria, 15 were positive and treated for.  

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Clinic Day 9 at Kedohi

Today school was back in session and Laura and Krista dewormed 200 kids and went from classroom to classroom at a school and gave Whitfield’s anti-fungal cream to each child.             Patti went on a hospital transfer with an elderly woman who had fallen and broken her wrist yesterday and needed an X-ray and to be casted. She also transported a baby who needed to be admitted for fluids and rehydration who had a fever and was vomiting. Ingrid went on a hospital transfer with a young 11 year old girl who had arthritis in her hands and a wound that needed I&D (incision and drainage).             We saw a total of 587 people, taught 30 young girls sexual education, sent 3 to the hospital for further treatment, gave out 30 pairs of reading glasses, treated 20 positive out of 51 RDTs for malaria, did 2 home visits and treated 9 wounds.  

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Clinic Day 8 at Viyalo

Today Gail went on a home visit to follow up with a lady who had thyroid surgery done last week - she is recovering and doing very well thanks to all of our CNFA donors. Priscilla went on a hospital transfer with a 10 month old girl with stridor who was admitted with pneumonia and received nebulizer treatments. Today we saw 613 people, gave 35 pairs of reading glasses, treated 11 wounds, dewormed 82 children, had 11 out of 42 positive RDTs for malaria that were treated, taught 40 young girls about sexual education and gave reusable sanitary pads, treated 26 for jiggers and did a home visit and jiggers treatment. We also sent a total of 3 people to the hospital for further treatment.            

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Clinic Day 7 at Chavakali

Ingrid, Johnstone, Victor and Sara went on a home visit to assess an elderly woman named Gladys. She had a stroke 5 years ago and has since become very weak and has a lot of pain when trying to ambulate. We provided her with some pain medications as well as taught her some exercises to build some strength. She is a very strong willed lady who is determined to be mobile again.                 Karen and Krista went on a hospital transfer with 3 patients - a baby with bilateral pneumonia and two young men who were in motor cycle accidents. One had a fractured elbow and wrist with a severe wound and swelling across his arm and hand and the other had a broken leg that was originally repaired by external fixation 3 months ago but hadn’t been set properly. He had also developed a wound on his leg. All three patients were admitted and their treatments paid for by CNFA. Pictured below is the one man’s X-ray of his arm where you can see how much swelling there was.

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Clinic Day 6 at Igungu

As today was Saturday, it was a shorter day for our clinic. We treated a total of 407 people in about 5 hours.               Lynn and Jane fitting a young barefoot boy with some shoes that grow. Today, 25 young girls were taught sexual education and given reusable sanitary pads, 38 children were dewormed, 4 wounds were treated, one patient was taken to the hospital, out of 45 RDTs, 23 were positive for malaria and were treated for, and 31 people were treated for jiggers.

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Clinic Day Five at Kigama

Our fifth day of clinics at Kigama has been the busiest one so far with a total of 657 people seen. 35 pairs of reading glasses were given, 40 young girls were taught sexual education, 30 people were treated for jiggers, 69 children were dewormed, 13 wounds were treated and out of 44 RDTs, 20 were positive for malaria.                 This is Ernest from one of our clinics last year who had a fractured humerus and CNFA funded his surgery to repair it. He came by to show us that he’s doing very well and going to physiotherapy. Meaghan went on a hospital transfer with a man who was diagnosed with a UTI. She also was able to transfer back home the man who had suspected TB which turned out to be pneumonia and was treated with antibiotics. He was very grateful for CNFA for helping him.                 Meet Elinah. She is a lovely 59 year old woman who has needed numerous amputations for an unknown disease that effects her limbs. She came to us with a wound on her hand that was open right to the bone and tendons. We…

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Clinic Day Four at Wangulu

                If you’re asking what this picture is about I’ll tell you. Normally we leave at 7am for clinic but this morning Lynn came running out of her room at 7:05am in her pyjamas in full blown panic mode yelling “I JUST WOKE UP!! I JUST WOKE UP!!” Not pictured is her tripping over barbed wire and falling onto the grass right after this. After playing a solid game of soccer with some kids, my pants decided to split right down the middle but thankfully an African lady named Mary came to my rescue to sew them up. It’s safe to say that Lynn and I were not off to a good start today.                 Karen watched some RDTs (rapid diagnostic tests) for malaria being done by our Kenyan nurses. A small amount of blood is collected like a glucometer and it only takes about 5 minutes for the result to come back. Out of the 36 tested today, 15 were positive.               Our fearless leader Gail with our Kenyan nurses, Brenda, Winnie, Jane, Sarah, Rosaline and Victor. We had a total of 506 people…

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Clinic Day Three at Mudungu

Barb and Patti did a home visit with Johnson and treated a family of 5 for jiggers. Jiggers is a type of sand flea here in certain parts of Kenya that gets under the toenails and fingernails and can cause severe deformity and infection if left untreated. They sprayed the entire home and had each member of the family soak their hands and feet in a potassium permanganate solution for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the severity of the infestation.                 Ingrid went on a hospital transfer with a very sick 46 year old man who presented with shortness of breath and a cough and ended up having TB and malaria. When she arrived at the hospital she was shocked at how the man wasn’t placed under airborne precautions. He ended up being admitted and we had to purchase his own personal utensils and medications for him while in hospital.                 At today’s clinic we treated a total of 523 people, taught sexual health to 45 young girls, had 11 out of 49 positive malaria cases that were treated, gave out 46 pairs of reading glasses, dewormed 46…

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Clinic Day Two at Budaywa – Basali East

Lynn, Krista and our Kenyan nurse Sarah gave quite the laugh to 30 young girls while teaching sexual health and handing out reusable sanitary pads.                 Becca had the opportunity to go to the hospital with a young 13 year old boy who fell out of a tree and broke both of his arms three weeks ago. He came to us to be treated and we sent him to the hospital to have both arms x-rayed, manipulated and placed in casts.                             Ingrid learned how to deworm children by providing them with albendazole medication and making sure they took each pill right away.                 We finished the day off with a long walk from the clinic down a dirt road, walking with the locals while kids were yelling “mzungus!” (White people). We treated a total of 542 people, gave out 39 reading glasses, did 16 jiggers treatments and gave out 4 jiggers shoes, taught sexual health to 35 young girls, sent one young boy to the hospital and paid for his treatments, treated 5 wounds, and dewormed 152…

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Clinic Day One at Itegero – Basali West

Day one of clinics started off in true Kenyan time - pole pole (slowly slowly) as they say in Swahili. Because of the upcoming election, it was around 930am by the time we opened the clinic. We packed 18 of us plus medications into the 12 passenger matatu and made our way to a small village. Of course Solomon was there bright and early, riding in on his motorcycle eager to greet us.           Our clinical officers in their CNFA white coats. Becca had her first experience with going to the bathroom in a hole in the ground in a tiny shed that locked from the outside - interesting to say the least. But if the cows mooing in behind didn’t get her bowels fired up, I don’t know what would. Laura, Krista and Karen learned how to deworm children and had a good game of ring around the rosie going.               Although a slower than usual start to the day, we treated a total of 425 people, taught 30 young girls about sexual health, treated 9 wounds, dewormed 161 children, sent 1 baby with stridor to the hospital and out of 22 Rapid Diagnostic…

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Journey to Kisumu – Shaken not Stirred

            The roadie to Kisumu started off in luxury - Jeff and Jerry picked us up at the Sheywe in the shiniest matatu we’d ever seen, complete with a flat screen tv and surround sound. However that quickly turned into something out of a nightmare for the car sick girls not being able to see anything out the front window because their vision was obscured by some African ladies dancing in a music video on the big screen. With Patti basically needing to stick her head out the window for the ride, Krista’s low key voice of panic said what we were all thinking “is this tv going to be on the entire time? I feel like we’ve been kidnapped.” Meaghan, Laura and I were mildly concussed in the back seat from banging our heads on the roof with every bump we hit. Both of them discreetly saying “I’m now realizing I’m not wearing enough support for this.”             After picking up the boxes and boxes of medications at the local chemist, we made a quick stop at the Maasai Market to try and bargain for some souvenirs. Back at the Sheywe we sorted out…

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11 women, 200 suitcases

            Jambo! The day has officially arrived, we’ve touched down in Kenya. All 11 of us and what feels like 1200lbs of supplies that we’re thankful for having the muscles of Jerry and big John to load into the bus. For a few minutes I didn’t think we’d be allowed on the plane with the overweight luggage we had to spread amongst bags as quickly as possible while the angry TSA lady yelled at us to move out of the way. Not to mention Gail getting pulled aside and questioned in Nairobi and having to bargain with airport security about a price to pay for the supplies we were bringing through customs. But we couldn’t be more thankful for all of the donations we’ve received to bring along and make this mission possible. After 14 hours of flight time and 11 hours in a bus, I think it’s safe to say we’re all exhausted and to quote Laura with how some of us might be feeling, “in ten hours I’ll have my nighty on and I’m calling it a night.” In between zebra and baboon sightings and a stop to see the Rift Valley on the long drive from Nairobi…

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Clinic #11 – Hamadira, May 5/17

It doesn't seem real to me that the end can already be upon us. I feel like I blinked and this mission was already on its final moments. It was a very bittersweet day, knowing that everything was coming to an end but also trying to relish in the last day and reflect on how grateful I felt being a part of this unique experience. We had a riot prior to the clinic even opening, due to some people cutting in line. All of a sudden there was yelling, pushing and people going crazy. Thankfully, even though our fearless leader Gail is tiny, she is equally as mighty. She was able to settle the line and calm the crowd, with the promise that everyone would be seen but needed to wait their turn. We had a patient show up asking for us to help him because "his mammy was very sick and could not make it to the clinic even though she lives just down the way". I was able to have the opportunity to do a home visit. Not knowing really what to expect, I gathered a thermometer and blood pressure cuff and our trusty Kenyan nurse Victor, and headed to the home. We…

Continue ReadingClinic #11 – Hamadira, May 5/17

Clinic #10 – Homanoywa, May 4/17

May the fourth be with you. I can honestly say I have never felt holier than standing on an alter handing out medications to those in need. That was definitely a first. We were working out of a very small Catholic Church that made for tight quarters for registering, triaging patients, seeing the doctor and then handing out medications all in one space. But we adapt, we are nurses don't you know. It's what we do best. We had a couple of moments that particularly stood out from today. First off, we saw a child with an incredibly high temperature, rigors (a sudden attack of severe shivering and feeling of coldness) who had an increased heart rate and looked bad. He tested positive for malaria and was sent immediately to hospital for IV therapy and closer monitoring. Next, was a child with spina bifida. His mother carried him in to the clinic, and he had incredible wounds on his knees from dragging himself around at home. His mother told us that he is attending school and has a wheelchair to get himself around while there, but does not have the means at home, so he just ends up dragging his legs. He was another patient…

Continue ReadingClinic #10 – Homanoywa, May 4/17

Clinic #9 – Kedohi, May 3/17

Rocked up to another clinic where the line up of people was so long that it extended off the property of the church we were working out of. To know that all of these people are patiently waiting for us to come and help them, with no complaints about wait times or when they are going to be seen, is absolutely inspiring. Also crazy daunting, but mainly so amazing. These patients come from all over, often walking long distances in order to gain access to the assistance they need. Every patient greets us with a 'Jambo Sana' and a smile when we go to take vitals. They thank us for giving their children clothes, shoes, toys and giving out free medicine and "healing their wounds". Today we had a man come to clinic for medications and in need of a dressing change. Considering I had done a couple of pretty minor dressings today, I anticipated it was going to be something basic. He pulled up his pant leg to reveal a horrendous wound on his upper thigh. Holy jeepers. By no means am I a wound care expert, but I can see when a wound needs to be debrided (the medical removal of dead, damaged…

Continue ReadingClinic #9 – Kedohi, May 3/17

Clinic #8 – Viyalo, May 2/17

Arriving to clinic to see a line of more than 50 people already waiting outside is just a slightly daunting start to the day. However, with the help of Solomon to get the crowd going, we were put in right mindset to start chugging along. The clinic started at a realitively lively pace, and a number of us had the chance to do some community jigger visits as well as home visits. Erica, Brian, Victor and I had the opportunity to head to the Friends School next door to the clinic to provide some deworming of the school kids. Last week school was still out, so this week kids are all back to hitting in the books in their adorable uniforms. We checked out some of the classrooms, and looked at the books the kids were studying even though they were in Swahili and I could not make heads or tails of it. We had the kids line up in two straight lines, hold out their hands and take the deworming pill. Oh, and we said "tarufa" which means chew. It must have been our pronounciation, because they thought it was hilarious. That, or the fact that we looked so different than they did. A…

Continue ReadingClinic #8 – Viyalo, May 2/17

Clinic #7 – Chavakali, May 1/17

Solomon had a new rendition of his daily song that included us clapping in excitement for all the different ailments that could possibly affect a person and cause them to seek treatment: head, chest, heart, belly, bowels, etc. He sure knows how to really get the crowd going. Everyday at the clinic is an amazing day. For me, it always baffles my mind that you can easily see over 500 people in the span of 8 short hours. These are people who travel long distances to make it to these clinics and seek help. We saw 513 people today and because of the weather, it was a slow day. One such man was a return customer from a previous clinic. He had come to us seeking treatment for his legs that were causing him immense pain to the point that he was unable to walk on them. We had treated him for an infection, given some pain meds, cleansed and dressed his ulcer. He had come back to get the wound rechecked and cleaned. It was healing nicely, seen by the pink skin and lack of drainage and smell. I gave it a thorough cleaning and bandaged him up, giving him extra supplies and explaining…

Continue ReadingClinic #7 – Chavakali, May 1/17

Clinic #6 – Igunga, April 29/17

April showers, bring May flowers has never been a more appropriate saying than to describe today. When our Kenyan guides talked about there only being two seasons (the wet and the dry), I wasn't quite expecting a torrential downpour through the night into the next morning. Holy moly. Due to the rain, we ended up leaving for the clinic a bit late and it was a slow start to the morning because who really wants to be out in a terrible rainstorm? We did have a small group of people that came to see us in the morning, including this poor boy who was tattered and using a plastic bag as a raincoat. Sabrina got right on finding him some better clothes, and we thankfully were able to pull off a complete transformation. In this case a hat, new tshirts and sweater was all it took! Vicki and I were given the opportunity to go with Johnstone for a jiggers home visit. What we didn't realize until we arrived was that we were running a jiggers treatment for an entire community. We were welcomed by the community and said mrembe in return, and then brought everyone needing treatment outside for Johnstone to sort out the…

Continue ReadingClinic #6 – Igunga, April 29/17

Clinic #5 – Kigama, April 28/17

By the end of this mission, we are going to be almost/sort of/semi-fluent in a few choice words in Swahili. I don't know if our Kenyan nurses are more excited when we remember specific words, or they just think our pronounciation is hysterical, but we have been getting some good responses at the clinics in our attempts at Swahili. So far we have pele (over there), kuje (next), kaa (sit), karibu (welcome), jambo (hello) and my personal favourite, sura yako ni murzuri (you are beautiful). Today at the clinic there were two instances that really stuck out for me. One patient came in with a fractured right humerus with a complete displacement that had occurred in August of the previous year. He was beaten at work, which left him with deformity most people would not even know what to do with. Crazy enough, the bone was not protruding through the skin and he had almost full range of motion and sensation of the arm. His issue was that he was unable to afford access to healthcare at the time of the injury, and now, 8 months later, wanted to know what could be done. Unfortunately, there was nothing immediately that could be done for him, but…

Continue ReadingClinic #5 – Kigama, April 28/17

Clinic #4 – Wangulu, April 27/17

There is nothing quite like having your own personal hype man to generate such an uplifting and positive energy to start off the day. Solomon is truly a rockstar. He gets the community psyched to see us, and us incredibly excited to start seeing patients! There is nothing quite like chanting, clapping, singing and praising to get the day rolling. It is also incredibly heartwarming to hear from people in the community about how the work that we do genuinely affects them in a positive way. It just goes to show that kindness and generosity spread! Wangulu was a very interesting community to be a part of. We had the chance to work in a lovely church that was probably the second largest one that we have been in since clinic day 1. This church had light bulbs and access to electricity, which is not seen in many of the places we have visited so far. It has been very interesting picking the minds of the Kenyan nurses to find out information about what it is like to study as a nurse in Kenya and what it entails that is similar and different from home. Victor, one of the Kenyan nursing students who works with CNFA,…

Continue ReadingClinic #4 – Wangulu, April 27/17

Clinic #3 – Mundungu, April 26/17

By day 3, we were a well oiled machine, loading the van, setting up and starting with minimal fusses. Everyday started with an introduction to the community leaders, a song and a prayer, to bless the day and all the people taking part in it. We rotated through triage, meds, learning opportunities, and assisting with various other tasks. Meds turned out to be a lot harder than I expected at the start. Just trying to locate the specific medication and correct dosing you were looking for was difficult... but then came all the (albeit basic but still challenging) math. We all seemed to catch on quick, because our brains were truly put to the test with pediatric dosing calculations. Thank goodness for the buddy system for checking medication orders. And really, if anything, a little organized chaos is the spice to life. That, and music. Sarah, one of the Kenyan nurses also provided us with the opportunity to see a birth control rod inserted into a patient's inner arm. The insertion itself was fairly straightforward, and nothing a little lidocaine couldn't fix. Lidocaine was inserted into the arm directly under the skin first to numb the area, and then a rod was inserted in to the…

Continue ReadingClinic #3 – Mundungu, April 26/17

Clinic #2 – Budaywa, April 25/17

Hello from the other side. It appears that I have survived! Clinic #2 was a mystery to me, but the others gave me the breakdown of the day. To start off, I had my first interaction with Solomon, CNFA's number one fan. No one gets as jazzed about us being here as Solomon. He is an angel in every way, and helps facilitate the gathering of the community and blessing of the day by prayer. The clinics work as such; patients register first with their name, age, community and stated complaints. They then come to triage for weights, temps, blood pressures and heart rates based on their ages. We identify people that are very sick at this point and fast track them to the clinical officers immediately, as some of these people need transfer to hospital ASAP. The next step is to speak to the clinic officers who order their meds, and then to the medication table to get them dispensed. The Kenyan nurses provided education on medication administration and answer any questions they may have. Usually at this point we also provide wound care where appropriate, or extra supplies such as reading glasses. As a triage nurse, patients come to you to do vitals.…

Continue ReadingClinic #2 – Budaywa, April 25/17

Clinic #1 – Inegero, April 24/17

Unfortunately, some of us were not off to a great start this morning. While I stayed home and puked my guts out, the rest of CNFA was off touching the lives of the community of Inegero. Here is a rendition of what I have been told. The first timers of the group were feeling nervous, not really sure what to anticipate in terms of the setup, schedule or flow of the day. Since this was the first mission most of us had ever done, we had no baseline in terms of what to expect. However, with the help of our fearless leaders, we were brought up to speed quickly, and fell into the motions of triaging, dispensing meds and connecting with our patients. Every person was incredibly patient, had travelled far and was unbelievably thankful for the help we provided. This created an overwhelming sense of heartbreak but also the amazing feeling of being able to physically see your actual impact on a person's life. This clinic brought the first year of rapid diagnostic testing of malaria, which is a WHO best practice guideline, and is only possible due to the funding CNFA received this year. In the first day, 50% of the people tested…

Continue ReadingClinic #1 – Inegero, April 24/17

Kakamega/Kisumu – April 23/17

Jambo!! Breakfast lead to some very interesting discoveries: 1) if someone offers you something called arrow root, do not accept 2) if you do, be prepared for it to look like a purple potato, be the texture of spaghetti squash and generally taste like cardboard. But hey, when in Kenya, do as the Kenyans do. We loaded into our almighty Jesus van to pick up some RDTs (rapid diagnostic testing) for malaria from the local chemists', and then ventured to Kisumu to pick up our delivery of 29 boxes of various meds for the clinics. Low and behold the journey was a trying one. The roads are definitely something out of a roller coaster ride. That being said, the scenery helped take away from the jostling and bumping roads. Oh, and not fixating on the fact that they drive on the left hand side here. The chemist welcomed us and our girl (+Brian) power to lug said boxes into our car and get pumped about the start of clinics! This also gave us time to explore some local markets and the talented artists, partake in some sweet, sweet bargaining and hit up the local Nakumat (aka Kenyan Costco). There is something so interesting about hitting…

Continue ReadingKakamega/Kisumu – April 23/17

Nairobi to Kakamega – April 22/17

  (Sorry guys! Had some technical difficulties getting the blog up and running so be prepared as I play catch up to present time!) Welcome to Nairobi!!! If anything, I have realized that Kenyan time is much like island time...relaxed. An 8 am start rarely means 8 am, and more often than not we stop somewhere that we aren't a hundred percent sure why. We loaded ourselves into our beautiful van and took off in the very capable hands of Jerry and Jeffery, starting our 11 hour journey from Nairobi to Kakamega. This took us on an epic journey down the lovely, smooth, Kenyan roads. Our first hop off the bus was the astounding Great Rift Valley, which runs 6,000 km from Lebanon to Mozambique. Standing looking into it was pretty surreal, and made you feel like a tiny little part of the world. Next "stop" was to bask in the glory of REAL LIFE ZEBRAS, WARTHOGS, BABOONS, IMPALAS AND GAZELLES just hanging out at the side of the road. Like what?? How is this even real life!?!? How can this be the equivalent to our everyday squirrel? We also stopped to cross the equator line and make sure to get a picture at zero…

Continue ReadingNairobi to Kakamega – April 22/17