Jackson and his new wheelchair..thank you to everyone!!!

 Canadian Nurses for Africa want to thank everyone who donated to our wheelchair fund and made it possible for Jackson Najoli (13) to have his own wheelchair.  When he came to our clinic, his mother carried him on her back.  As he grew larger, it was becoming increasingly difficult to move him. Thanks to our generous supporters, he can now attend school and get out into the community. Unfortunately, we have just found out that Jackson has Muscular Dystrophy but this will make a huge difference in the quality of his life and in his parent's life. Thank you for the bottom of our hearts and from Jackson and his family! With gratitude,Dawn Bernard

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Thank you from Gail Wolters

It has been an amazing and successful week.  We heard many sad stories along with stories of human triump.  Our hearts have been broken and we have also rejoiced.  I want to thank my Canadian team, who worked so hard everyday to provide as much care to as many people as we could. I also want to thank our Kenyan team who took such good care of us from a security point of view, and thank you to the Kenayn medical staff. Our final numbers are stunning.  At 7 regualr clinics, we treated 4,905 patients, with a range of illness from malaria to wounds.  In our school deworming program, we treated 1,633 children along with school staff for a total of 6,538.  Nine patients were transported and treated at hospital, some of whom would have surely died if we had not been able to care for them and to pay their fees.  In addition, we gave out 50 pairs of glasses and conducted at least 6 sexual health clinics.  All of this is only possible through the generous donations of family, friends and all those who have shown they care through their gifts of money, goods and time.  We are on our way home exhausted and full of conflicting emotions.  The people of this country need so…

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Tuesday May 10, 2011

We left Kakamaga today at 8:30 am on the Easy Coach. It is similar to a Greyhound Bus and certainly more comfortable than the van we had yesterday. The highway is under construction in places but overall, the road is much superior to last year. It is a narrow highway and when we pass large transports, the clearance can’t be much more than 18” to 2 feet. We arrived in Nairobi 8-1/2 hours later with three stops which involved squat toilets. One quickly learns to ration water when travelling in on public transport here. After 8-1/2 hours, we arrived in Nairobi but our contact failed to show up. We waited over an hour then had the bus staff arrange and negotiate a taxi driver for us who drove us safely to the Rosa Mystica. After dinner, St Pacifica, a member of the St Benedictine order from Kisumu, sat and visited with us. She explained the work they were doing and wanted us to see what they do when we come next year. She had delayed her trip to Kisumu as she had wanted to speak with us. What a delightful lady. The work these nuns do is truly from their hearts and it is faith…

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Monday May 9, 2011

Gail, Trish and Dawn have stayed behind to handle the logistics of ending a campaign of this size. Marie Mackay has invited us to visit a school we can see from our lodgings, Bondini. The majority of the children come from a huge slum which is across a small valley from the Sheywe. The Ministry of Housing has built a few new schools in slum areas, so these children have relatively new facilities. When we arrived, the children were grouped according to age on a nearby parade ground. A teacher read from scripture and the children recited the Our Father, all in English. I haven’t mentioned religion this year. On the whole, this is a very religious society. The idea of heaven and God gives great comfort to the population who struggle to meet their very basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. We then received a tour of the new library that Marie has so generously arranged to be built. There were a few books on the shelves and the librarian spoke of how excited they were just to get shelves. There is a lunch or feeding program for the students who can’t go home for lunch. I will post a photo of the kitchen.…

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Sunday May 8, 2011, Sicherai

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone! Today was our last clinic day. We started early again but didn’t leave the guest house until about 7:40 am as we were in Kakamega today. We had expected a very busy day as this was our only clinic in the city. As it turned out this was our lightest day with 576 persons treated. On Sunday, everyone dresses up in their best and goes to church. The photos we have today show the patients in their very best. We handed out the last of the teddy bears, stickers, crayons and colouring books. The little boys with their toys were precious to watch. They would run them along the benches nearly crashing into each other. This is a reflection of how real Kenyan drivers operate their vehicles. On the whole, we were glad this clinic was a light one. I can only speak for myself but I am tired and everyone else was saying similar things.We treated a large number of children today, although this group was not as sick as the rural population. I would have thought the urban children had less access to food but our experience today didn’t support that. We have met a wonderful woman called…

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Saturday May 7, 2011 Emmedira

Today we drove about 1-1/2 hours to a rural location called Emmadira. We set up our clinic in a church, but you knew that didn’t you? Today’s church was near Hamadiara Primary School but because it was Saturday, there was no school. We treated 914 people today. We actually ran out of most medications again today but we had enough medication to deworm all the children who didn’t get into the clinic. We also handed our Whitfield to treat the head and body rashes that are so prevalent here. Because we treated the children with what we had left, the parents were ok but disappointed. We still found 8 children in the group who were so sick we took them inside and provided treatment. This included a baby with a burn.The comment section of the blog showed two persons who have offered to contribute to the wheelchair. I will be contacting you once I return to Canada, about the third week in May. Thank you so much for your generosity. We will continue to accept anything you can come up with. I love loose change!!Because we had to close yesterday, there were a few people who were registered but we couldn’t treat. When asked how…

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Viyalo, Friday May 6, 2011

It is hard to believe that it is Friday already.  Today we drove to a small community church located next door to a school.  Once we saw the school, we knew we would be doing another deworming program.  If we didn’t, they would all attend our clinic and the numbers would be even higher.  The first thing we did is to visit the school, Vihalo Primary.  There are 39 students in the school and 14 teachers.  After meeting the head master, Erika presented her gift of soccer balls to the older students in the care of one of the teachers.  You should have seen him beam.  We then went to a grade one class and gave them the finger puppets made by Joan, my curling friend.  We have photos but not on my camera and everyone has gone to bed.  I will be publishing them later.  We then went to the grade 2 class and gave them the toothbrushes given by Dr Kotecha and the toothpaste which had been given to Silvia.  The children were all smiles.  The classroom has a dirt floor with a chalkboard and desks, three children to a desk.  They spoke in unison at the head teacher’s prompting and they were…

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May 6, 2011

Hi,I have a moment and want to tell you something.  Yesterday we treated a 10 year old boy who had lost the ability to use his body from the waist down.  He had had a virus at an early age; it went untreated; and his family can't afford the money he needed for physiotherapy.  His mother, who is a slight woman, carries him on her back.  I gave him a teddy bear yesterday when they were leaving the clinic and he smiled.  We are going to buy him a rough terrain wheelchair.  If there is anyway, any one of you, could share in the cost, Canadian Nurses for Africa would be grateful.  But more than that, you will give this boy a chance to go to school.  His mother can barely carry him now, so he will be soon too heavy.  He will have sit at home.  I will leave that with you and will let you know what happens.  I have to get back to the clinic.Dawn

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May 5, 2011, Kidosi

Today was a very busy day.  We set up our clinic in a church, beside a primary school.  It was a good day as we treated everyone who was in line, all 692 people. At 3:00 pm, a heavy and prolonged rain storm hit the area and it discouraged the latecomers.  As I have said before, closing the clinic and saying no more to those who have walked long distances and have stood outside in the hot sun for hours is a painful thing to do.  I dread closing time for that reason.We had a deworming program for Evojo School today.  We treated over 500 children along with 11 teachers.  In addition, we handed out medication for head rashes which are common among the children and quite contagious.  We also conducted sexual health clinics for age appropriate boys and girls.  Trish had brought along quilt squares for the 3-4 classes to draw on with fabric pens.  We now have 60 squares to be made into quilts.  Two of the squares said “Ben laden, the world’s main traitor” or “you can still be happy if you live in a shack”.   Today, we sent two persons to hospital.  One was a young woman who was miscarrying due…

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Kigama, May 4, 2011

May 4, 2011Today we set up a clinic at Kigama.  We arrived at the church, another Friend Church, and they had forgotten we were coming.  It didn’t take long to set up the church for our clinic, right after the minister prayed for forgiveness as he was only human.  In addition to our regular clinic, we had made arrangements with a local school to do a deworming program, sexual health teachings, and a tooth cleaning clinic.  Well, we were at the right clinic but as luck would have it, someone made a wrong turn at 10:00 am, and arrived at a school who had never heard of us.  You would think a light would have gone off but we were already in the process of setting up a clinic in a church who had forgotten.  Gail, Lynn, Dawn and Sara (one of our Kenyan nursing partners) treated  507 very lucky boys and girls for worms and head sores in addition to 12 teaching staff.  As the head master said when he found out that we were supposed to be elsewhere “God smiled on us today”.  Tomorrow, we will make things right and attend the school that was expecting us.  Our clinic was huge today…we treated…

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Badaywe Tuesday May 3rd

Today is Tuesday May 3rd.  We were up early again, left the Sheywe Guest House at 7:00 am, and arrived at Badaywe at 8:15 am.  The clinic was held in a church known as the French Church or did he say Friend Church.  According to a man I spoke with, it was “founded by Mr Ford of the United States of America”.  I never did find out if Henry was the founder but only that Mr Ford is no longer associated with the church. It was very similar in size to the clinic at the Friend’s Church, a large room with an altar, pews and tables.  The real difference was that the roof didn’t leak when the rains came.  We were greeted by some of the community men and they were eager to assist us in setting up.  I found out later there was an old woman (60?ok, but this is Africa), who had gotten up at 6am, travelled the community by foot and alerted the sick about the clinic by blowing a whistle.  She must have blown that whistle loud we ran out of most medications by 3p.  We treated 675 persons including 95 school children for worms.  Some of these children progressed to…

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Ikobero, Monday May 2, 2011

IkoberoToday is Monday May 2nd.  While all of Canada was voting, we attended a rural area of Kenya called Ikobero located about 1 hour out of Kakamega.  All of our nurses arrived last night to the great delight of the three of us who came ahead.  There were hugs, kisses, and a great deal of chatter.  It is hard to believe that 7 tired people could still be bright and chatty.  After a quick dinner, everyone went to bed as we were on the road by 7:00 am this morning.Our clinic was held in a Salvation Army Worship Centre.  When we arrived shortly after 8:00 am, the centre had already been set up for us.  This was such a change from last year when sometimes we had to carry tables, chairs etc before we could set up.  Aggrey has done a great job.We had local people conducting crowd control and organizing the patients when they entered the clinics.  Today we treated 575 people.  Imagine that!  They walked in from the surrounding areas, some with sores so large it would make a medical person flinch.  Children came with malaria, fevers, coughs, intestinal worms and rashes and sores on their heads and bodies.  I can never say…

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Sunday May 1, 2011

May 1, 2011Kuku HutWhat an amazing exciting day today!  We went to a small village called Kuku Hut which actually means chicken hut in Swahili where we met an incredible young lady from Ottawa named Stacey who lives in a mud hut with a Kenyan woman named Rose to work with the village people.    Stacey is considered like a man in this village so when she meets to plan projects , she discusses them with the man while his wife works in the kitchen preparing the food, they eat and IF there are leftovers the wife may eat after.  Rose is an unusually strong independent Kenyan woman, unmarried at 32 and refusing to take a husband as she does not want to be a second wife (polygamy is common here).  She also mentioned anger at the injustice of the workload of women compared to men.  Stacey described how Rose would get male volunteers (white men of course) to carry the water for her and the Kenyan men would laugh at them!  Good for Rose!!  Stacey and Rose introduced us to the school, Tumaini Academy, which means “hope”.    Gail, Dawn and I dewormed 81 children who did not enjoy the taste of the medication so we…

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Saturday April 30, 2011

Saturday April 30, 2011Time has a different context in Kenya. This is an adjustment for Canadian women whose work and social lives are ruled by the clock.  The receptionist at St Anna’s slowly and carefully wrote out all of the receipts by hand using carbon paper to provide a copy.  I didn’t even know one could purchase carbon paper anymore.  Our transportation to the Kisumu pharmacy was two hours late in arriving but the pharmacist, who generally closes on a Saturday, said “I knew you would come so I kept the shop open”.  My type A personality keeps getting in the way.We have had an interesting day.  We hired a local shuttle bus to drive us from Kisumu (the second largest city in Kenya) to Kakamega, about a 60 to 70 minute drive.  The bus generally transports passengers and is one of the local buses that are so abundant here.  Although the seats were worn through, the drive was uneventful as the road has improved significantly since last year.  There is only one section that still has to be redone.  The bus carried the three of us, plus Johnston, a community worker who assisted us today, and Sara, one of our nurses.  In addition to…

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Friday April 29, 2011

Friday April 29, 2011This morning we were up at 6:45 am for our ride to the Nairobi bus station.  We are travelling by Easy Coach to Kisumu to sort out and pick up our medicatons.   The rest of the group, seven nurses, will arrive on Saturday night and will travel by rented van and hired driver to Kakamega, our destination, on Sunday.  I have no idea what Aggrey was able to obtain for a van, but it couldn’t have more character than last year’s Toyota van.  I will keep you updated on it.Aggrey’s nephew, Jerry, told us the ride to Kisum would take about 5 hours.  Somehow, that didn’t mesh with the time we had taken last year, but I thought, oh well, the Easy Coach will be faster than our Toyota van.  Wrong!  Eight hours later, we pulled into Kisumu.  At first the roads weren’t too bad then we got to the pot hole and speed bump section that lasted for the majority of the trip.  We pounded our way until our bums were numb.  Every time, I fell asleep, we would hit a large bump and/or the driver would put on his brakes.  The good thing about the brakes is that they squealed…

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Thursday April 28, 2011

Today is… what day is it?  Gail, Lynn and Dawn left two days ahead of the rest of the nurses this year to get the medications picked up and ready for our first clinic on Monday.  Actually, I really do know what day it is.  It is Thursday April 28th, very soon to be Friday April 29th.  Our trip to Nairobi was uneventful but tiring.  We have advanced 7 hours in the last 24 hours and thousands of kilometres.  We arrived at the Rosa Mystica, a St Benedictine convent, which has been converted into a small hotel.  The rooms look and feel very much like the convent cells they once were but are very clean.  All I want is a place to lie down and stretch out.  I am in the same room I had last year when we were leaving and guess what, there still isn’t any hot water for the shower.  After travelling for two days, a hot shower would have been nice but what the hey.  And just so you know, my two travelling partners who “never, ever sleep on a plane” gave a bad imitation of being awake. Aggrey’s cousin and his nephew arranged for two cars to pick us up,…

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Thank You from Gail Wolters, President and Founder

Jambo friends and family,Excitement is building as we make final preparations for departure to Kenya at the end of this month. It's hard to believe that only four short years ago, over a cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s, I posed the idea to Aggrey, of Nurses for Africa doing medical missions in Kenya. Until then I had only done fundraisers here in Canada. We dared to dream! And we turned out to be a great team! Aggrey has a passion for helping the disadvantaged in his home country and takes the responsibility of organizing the Kenyan side of the missions. Canadian Nurses for Africa has grown more than I could have ever imagined. I thank our families for supporting us, especially through that first year.What a fabulous team I have travelling with me again this year! Once again we will be working with Kenyan nurses and doctors. For the first time, in conjunction with the field clinics, we will be piloting a school programme. This involves deworming all children and staff and giving sexual health education to the older students. The chosen school is in an area of extreme poverty and has approximately 500 students in grades one to eight.None of this would be…

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Creating Toys for Children

The community of Weyburn Saskatchewan, under the guidance of Marnie Bernard, has come together and created 150 knit and sewn teddy bears for Kenyan children. Words fail to express the gratitude we feel. It will be a pleasure to watch as children smile with this gift. We also thank those who sent crayons and coloring books. We will give out those books and crayons one page and one crayon at a time. Also many thanks to Tim Bernard and his granddaughter, Emily, and to Stephen Bernard for their gifts of handmade wooden cars. And many thanks to fellow curler and friend, Joan Purcell, for her creative gift of finger puppets. I can't wait to see the enjoyment they will give to the little ones. For all the people who donated Tylenol, baby blankets, washable sanitary pads, and infant clothing, I thank you with all my heart. Know that you have made a difference!

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Packing Suitcases with Donations

Thanks to family and friends, we had 10 suitcases donated for our trip.  We are packing them as full as we can with donated medications and medical supplies, wooden toys, teddy bears, sanitary pads, finger puppets, crayons and colouring books. We even swallowed our pride when we got on the bathroom scale holding a full suitcase, announced our personal weight, and had it subtracted from the total.

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Preparing to Go

In January of 2011, we had an old-fashioned sewing bee at Dawn's house. Thirteen women gave up their Sunday afternoon to sew washable sanitary pads for Kenyan teenage girls and women. In Kenya, teenage girls can't go to school unless they have a sanitary pad. The average Kenyan worker earns $1.00 US a day, and disposable pads cost about $4.00 a box. As such, Kenyan girls lose four to five days of school a month due to the lack of a sanitary pad. Many quit school as they fall behind. This year, we are taking over 600 pads with us, many sewn on the day of our bee, and others sewn and donated from Mary-Anne Sloka, her friend, Nancy, and a group named Sew on Fire. Our deepest thanks to everyone. Hang onto your old flannelette and we will see it goes to these women who sew for the girls in Africa.

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