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…

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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…

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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…

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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

September 23, 2012 – Fundraising

Canadian Nurses for Africa first Run Like a Kenyan event, in support of our ongoing health initiatives in Kenya, was held at the beautiful Rockwood Conservation Area in Rockwood, Ontario. It was a gorgeous fall day and we had a a great turnout. Twenty eight children participated in the free 1 km kiddie run and 134 adults in the 5 km adult run/walk. The Naked Beat Drummers and live DJ provided great energy for all that attended. We have recieved so much positive feedback that this will become an annual event. To all of the volunteers and participants, thank you for making this such a successful day!

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Wheelchairs and Fundraisers

Dear friends and family. Canadian Nurses for Africa is pleased to let you know that we have had 5 wheelchairs and 1 pair of crutches delivered to patients we treated while in Kenya in May 2012. Some of these people had been struggling with their disability for years. What a wonderful gift of increased mobility we have been able to give them through your support. From each of them, thank you to each of you who have so generously supported our fundraisers and given cash donations. You have truly impacted their lives in a positive way. There are still many to help though and we at CNFA remain committed to do as much as we can. The wheelchairs are manufactured in Kenya. In a small way we are also helping with employment in a country where unemployment is as high as 80%. As well, the wheelchairs are designed to withstand use on the rough terrain of the countryside. On a separate note I would like to remind you of our next fundraiser which is fast approaching. If you live in the Burlington/Guelph area, we hope to see you there! The profits will provide more care and remember- we are all volunteers at CNFA so all money raised goes…

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Project Update: Wheelchairs September 07, 2012

On September 7, 2012 CNFA had 5 wheelchairs and one pair of crutches delivered to 5 adults and one child. While working in Kenya we at times see people at our clinics, or during a home visit, who have suffered a stroke or mishap that has left them with a loss of mobility. This can be complete or partial paralysis. We also occasionally see those with neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy. Upon returning to Canada we work with the Association of Physically Disabled of Kenya to provide appropriate assistive devices for these patients. With the assistance of a community worker, this organization will visit the patient in their home to assess the needs. The wheelchairs and crutches are all manufactured in Kenya using Kenyan labour. They are heavy duty and designed to withstand the rough terrain on which they will be used.

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Home Visit

Greetings to all of you in Canada and thank you for your support while we are here. This past Saturday, I had the privilege of doing a home visit to a patient unable to come to the clinic. This gentleman is 50 years old and suffered a stroke due to HTN. Hypertension is endemic in this population and at very young ages. To visit, we walked approximately four kilometres through the county side of this densely populated area. Every inch of land is used for crops or grazing animals.We arrived at a typical mud hut that serves as home to find the patient propped up on the floor. His existence since the stroke is lying in the hut or on the grass outside, depending where his family carries him. He was a subsistence farmer and the work has fallen to his wife and young sons. Childhood is brief here. Along with Sarah, the Kenyan nurse accompanying me, we devised a plan to provide his hypertensive medication. More importantly, we will work through a local organisation to provide him with a wheelchair. Hopefully, we will at least be able to improve the quality of life for this man and his family. I am continuously overwhelmed by…

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The Face of Kenya

This little boy’s smile will be forever imprinted in my mind. He will always be in my heart. I knew from thesecond I laid eyes on him that he was very ill and suffering from severe malnutrition. And yet he smiled-a wide toothy smile. As I assessed him, I noticed the muscle wasting, the sunken eyes, the bony prominences, and the deformed painful fingers and toes from jiggers infestation. Still he smiled at me. I wanted to cry.  I was told the hospital here would do nothing for him; my heart was breaking. He needed intensive medical intervention. It was not available for him. I know what the future holds for him. I am devastated.I went back to triage and found him the last of our wooden cars. I so desperately wanted to give him something. I couldn’t believe his smile could get bigger.Nancy

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Sexual Health Clinics

I have talked about some of the medical issues in Kenya, but another component of our clinics is sexual health teachings. In Kenya, the man often works away from home. As monogamy isn’t the rule in this culture, the men are having other sexual partners then are coming home and having sex with their wives. As such, the rate of HIV infection and Aids in Africa as a whole is still growing. If the men used condoms with their away partners, they don’t use them with their wives. The women are then highly vulnerable and susceptible to disease. Lynn distributes condoms among the women and men (if the community conditions are right) and teaches them how to use them. So many babies are still being born HIV positive. There are too many orphans in the country, and so many of the children being raised by their grandmothers. On Saturday, a grandmother brought in four little children for treatment, all without shoes. One knows that her daughter had probably died and now she had to feed and care for the children.In Kenya, teenage girls can’t go to school unless they have sanitary pads. A box of disposable pads costs as much here as they do back…

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