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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From Gail Wolters, CNFA President and Founder

Dear friends, family and supporters,It is hard to believe the 2012 mission is behind us and we are on our way home.  The numbers again are staggering.  In the 11 days of clinics, we treated 8,342 patients. Of those, we treated 22 in hospital and will be following up with further care. We treated 130 patients with wounds, some of them horrific. We also made 5 home visits to patients unable to come to the clinics.  We conducted sexual health clinics for approximately 30 girls and women every day. At these classes, we were able to distribute the reuseable sanitary pads and drawstring bags made by our wonderful sewers in Saskatchewan and Ontario.  The recipients love them! Such as simple way to ease some of the difficulties facing these women.Our school deworming program was successful in treating approximately 5361 school children. For the first time, we introduced a jiggers eradication program which you can read about on the blog. These people are the poorest of the poor and having the jiggers treatment gives them hope and the ability to help themselves. The jiggers patients, mostly mothers and young patients, received the beautiful donated blankets and baby clothing to protect them during this cold and rainy season. In…

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Friday May 11, 2012, Hamadira

It is so hard to believe that today was our last clinic. We left the church with a sense of relief and regret. We have made so many friends, one of which we call our groupie, Solomon Ngole. I have posted a picture of him today. He shows up at every clinic on his worn bicycle, greets us so warmly, and with a smile that lights up the night. He always helps to start off each clinic with a prayer and he not only sings like an angel, he can harmonize. We treated 757 patients today. We closed the clinic a little earlier as we ran out of medication but we also wanted to get back to the Sheywe Guest House early enough so everyone has a chance to pack as the main group leaves tomorrow. We had an 89 year old man come in complaining about sexual dysfunction. Sarah, one of Kenyan nyu counselled him so nicely. The truth of the matter was that his sixth wife (don’t ask as I don’t know all the details) likes to have his company in bed every day right after tea time. Eat your hearts out all you fellows out there. Seven times a week and he…

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Working in an environment such as we have the last two weeks takes a toll on each of us both physically and emotionally. Each person deals with it the best they can and in their own way. And sometimes it will just come pouring out. It is usually something small that will trigger an unexpected response. Kristie is a third year nursing student at Queen’s University and this is her story.Today was a very emotional day for me-and as I left my triage spot in tears over some things that had really disturbed me, I found myself beside a young girl in a school uniform, who asked me why I was so upset.Her name was Pamela; she is 18 years old with three children. She is training to be a seamstress. I dedicate this post to her.Pamela, you took me in when I was at such an emotional low and you treated me like a long lost friend. You let me watch you at work, copying down your lesson. You talked to me for half an hour to calm me down, telling me not to have fear. For three hours, you introduced me to your peers; you showed me how to dress the Kenyan way; you…

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Hando, Thursday May 10, 2012

We travelled to a vocational school today. It was quite a nice facility on the whole but there were only a few handicapped students in attendance. Unfortunately, the clinic was held in two places: registration and triage were outside under a covered walkway with the clinical officers and medication in a small room with poor lighting and ventilation. I am not sure why it couldn’t have been held in the large spacious dining room. As such, it was crowded and we had to close the clinic before quite a large number of people were seen. As it was, we treated 961 people along with deworming and a sexual health clinic at a nearby school.This is a very poor school, with the children’s uniforms having seen better days. Lynn distributed sanitary pads along with the cute bags sewn for us by Saskatchewan women. The girls use them to carry their pads home and to say they are delighted with them is an understatement. Trish prepared a large number of squares for an African quilt before she left Canada. She identified 24 students around 12 and 13 years old and asked them to draw on the squares. She is going to make a quilt out of it…

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Kedohi, Wednesday May 9, 2012

We held our tenth clinic of the mission at a Friends Church in Kedohi. If you are an old blog follower, you may remember that last year our van, after a very heavy early afternoon rain, left the church/school and nearly slid into a ditch. We all left the van in a rapid manner and refused to get in even after all the school children pushed the van back onto the road. We then walked to an intersection where the road became more passable. As we drove this section, I was shocked at how far we had walked. I guess adrenalin can give you a little lift. Today as we closed the clinic, the black sky arrived and the rain started to fall. The veterans from last year yelled at everyone to hurry hurry!! We all piled into the 14 passenger van including the Kenyan nurses who didn’t want to be out in the storm. We counted 23 persons in the van including our medications. There is saying in Kenya that there is always room for one more but I think in our case we had reached the limit. What a busy day! The lineups never seemed to decrease. We treated 1031 patients inside the…

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Tuesday May 8, 2012, Viyalo

This morning we set up our clinic at Viyalo in the Viyalo Friends Church. It was quite a large building and so we were able to at least navigate without squeezing by each other. Yesterday, we had something that I can’t recall having before….electricity in the church and they turned on one bank of lights for us. What a difference that makes to our working conditions. It was almost as good as coming home and having hot water for a shower, right Donna and Judy?The clinic today started out with a line-up that never seemed to get any shorter. Even the Kenyans that help me register the patients kept peeking out the window. We ended the day by treating 1012 patients and dewormed 545 school children, including a whole school that showed up at our door (see some of them in the photo). We took one patient to hospital and picked up a woman that had severe hypertension who had been admitted late last week. In addition, we had one home visit and treated 20 wounds. What a day! The sad thing was that there were 300 people left in the line. As I have said over and over again, it is heartbreaking to tell…

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Monday May 7, 2012, Chavakali

Now that we have had our day off, it is time to get back to work. We travelled to the area of Chavakali, which is near Evojo School. This is one of the first schools we ever visited to deworm children and its needs have always been a part of our hearts.The clinic was very successful and we treated nearly everyone. Sarah, one of our Kenyan nurses, went out into the crowd and asked everyone what time they had come to line up. Those that had been in line for three hours were treated and the rest were asked to come to a clinic on another day (can you imagine being asked to do that at an emergency department after you had already stood for hours in the hot sun). We also ran out of many of our medications so more and more people were going home with a partial prescription. When that happens, the patient comes to the next day’s clinic, if at all possible, and receives the rest of the medication. We treated 789 patients inside the clinic, dewormed around 1200 school children, and treated 180 persons for jiggers at a number of small clinics throughout the area.It has rained here every night.…

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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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Sunday May 6, 2012, Chavakali

Today was a “sleep in day”. Like most days when you plan on sleeping in, you find yourself awake at the usual time. The nice thing was the opportunity to grab your pillow and snuggle back in for a little while. Speaking of pillows, we call the ones that are on our beds “a bag of lumps” as they have been washed so many times, that is exactly what they have been reduced to. The majority of us went to an African Church today. We were supposed to attend one in the city, slip into the back, enjoy the service, and slip away. Imagine our surprise when our van drove out of town. An hour later, we arrived at a small church (I didn’t see the name) and the people were waiting for us. There was even a translator (the teacher Clinton). The Bishop spoke to the people and Clinton translated emulating the Bishop’s tones. He did a great job as he became impassioned when the Bishop did and then soft when the Bishop reduced his voice. The congregation sang Jesus loves me to start but I think it was the only English song they knew. Oh I forgot, once we arrived, we were paraded…

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Two Babies

One of the most difficult things to see in Kenya is the suffering children. Whether it is from malnutrition, malaria, or worms, it is always a heartbreaking thing to witness. And working in the small rural villages of Kenya, you see many of these children. I have one such story of a child that stands out in my mind. It was last week during a clinic at a particularly impoverished village in the Kakamega region. One of the duties that we perform as nurses at the clinic is filling out prescriptions. We receive a chart (a single paper) that states the patient’s name, age, presenting complaint, diagnosis, and finally the medication that has been prescribed. The chart indicates the patient’s vital signs including a weight if the patient is a child. Based on the weight, we calculate the appropriate dosage for each drug for each child.One such chart came my way and I began to fill the prescription. I noticed the child’s weight was recorded at 4 kg or about 8 pounds, the size of a newborn. I rechecked both the age and the weight thinking there must be a mistake. I had noted during the last couple of days that the children we saw…

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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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Jiggers- Warning Disturbing Photos

Hello and love to all my family and friends. Once again we are having an amazing trip. The impact of what we do here each year never seems to amaze me as we keep expanding our scope and practices.This year we are supporting jiggers clinics, a total of nine while we are here. We are also supporting the community workers to go into people’s homes for follow-up treatment of the infected environment and family.Before this trip, I knew very little about jiggers and regardless of how much I had read, I could not have prepared myself for this devastating affliction, children, women, and men so afflicted by this mite burrowing under fingers and nails that they eventually can’t walk or feed themselves. The pictures are disturbing but seeing it up close just makes you want to cry. The jiggers can over the long term spread themselves throughout the body and into the brain with devastating damage.The good news is jiggers is treatable and preventable. Because of your generous donations, we are able to provide ongoing treatment in this area of Kenya. We are told and have seen in follow up that after three months of treatment the hands and feet are almost back to normal.…

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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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Margoli, Saturday May 5, 2012

Today we drove to a small church in the community of Margoli. We had initially been scheduled to work at a previous years location in Kakamega. The church, which was unnamed, was located beside one of the main roads and as it was market day, scores of people walked with their wares on their heads or packed onto bicycles to sell at market. The local people also walk to market to purchase food, supplies and household goods. A cattle market was also in the vicinity so there were a large number of cattle, goats and other animals being led to market and sold. It made for an interesting look outside the windows.We treated 395 people today and dewormed 150 children as we were only open for four hours. We had a staff dinner this afternoon for the Kenyan nurses and clinical officers. Unfortunately, Aggrey couldn’t attend but it was a great opportunity for the rest of us to build relationships. The clinics are always so busy that there is very little time for getting to know each other. We had to hold the dinner early for the safety of our Kenyan female staff. They wanted to be on their way home before it got dark.It was good the…

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Kigama, Friday May 4, 2012

Today was a good day. No one was arrested; no one ran out of gas; and the police ignored us. Even the ATMs are working. We drove to the area of Kigama and held our clinic in a Friends (Quaker) Church. We have been in this area before. There is a nearby school that we accidentally treated for worms and conducted a sexual health clinic at last year. Our driver took us to the wrong school. As the headmaster said “God has blessed us today”. I spoke with a teacher, Clinton, today from the same school. He said they also accidentally received a sponsored porridge program last year, so they were doubly blessed. Clinton came to the clinic dressed in a white shirt and tie. He spoke English beautifully and is actually working on his Masters in English. He wants to teach at a university. We put him to work for the last two hours of the clinic and he did a great job.Now as you have read previously, our driver, Kim, has had his problems the last week. Rather than fire him, we put him to work in the clinic today. What a great job he did! It made his day move more quickly and…

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Wangulu, Thursday May 3, 2012

What a day we had! We left the Sheywe Guest House shortly after 7:00 am and travelled to a bank to get some money. The ATMs were down and had been since the day before. There is no such thing as debit or credit cards for any of the Canadian Nurses for Africa transactions. Even our pharmacist is paid in cash. So making regular withdrawals is an important task. So to get back to my story, we started our trip once more. Now we have a police officer on a motorcycle flagging us down. The driver gets out, has an animated conversation, gets back into the van, opens the driver’s glove box, takes out nothing, and gets back out of the van. A moment later, the police officer removes the keys from his motorcycle, climbs into the front seat, and we all proceed to the police station! Jerri leaves the van prior to the station; and the driver parks the van in the rear of the station, which looks like a police compound for vehicles. We are told to stay in the van and the driver and the police officer walk back toward the building. One hour later, the driver, Aggrey, and Jerri return. Our…

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Mundungu, Wednesday May 2, 2012

This morning we left Kakamega at the usual time and travelled about 40 minutes from the city into a very rural area. The foliage was very thick, green and heavy and the area looked more like the jungles we always associate with Africa. We stopped at a poor and quite small church and all day we were astounded at the poverty in the area. As we drove up, a small emaciated child waited on a bench outside the church with the largest smile on his face. One couldn’t help gasp at his condition. He was taken into the clinic and the nurse who treated him felt he would die in about six months. There is so little one can do in these circumstances and there was a tear or two shed at dinner as we discussed him. One can’t let emotions get in the way of doing what has to be done. It is our mission to treat the people of Kenya medically. Do I wish we had a feeding or clean water program? Of course, but we can only do so much with what we have. We gave him one of the small wooden toys made by Stephen and Tim Bernard. He was delighted.I…

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Budaywa, Tuesday May 1, 2012

This morning we left the Sheywe Guest House shortly after 7:00 am and drove into a very rural area of Kenya. There are no businesses around this area, and the locals must walk 4-1/2 kilometres to market on Saturday. Our clinic was set up in a Friend’s Church (Quaker) with the usual concrete floor. Two teenage girls swept the floor using a broom made from reeds. It was more of a long whisk than a broom and it raised a lot of dust. The rear of the church contained a mound of sand, wood shavings, and barbed wire. Two cows were tethered near the church walls but they were moved for their comfort and safety. I did mark the location of one cow patty just in case I wasn’t watching later on. Kenyan churches are certainly multi-functional. We treated 676 people today, dewormed 258 children, and sent two people to hospital in our van. Neither was admitted, but an x-ray on an older gentleman indicated he had a cancerous tumour growing out of his leg. There will be little we can do for him.We set up Jiggers clinics this year. They are not located at our clinics but in the community near us. They are…

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Ikobera, Monday April 30, 2012We held our first clinic in a Salvation Army Church in the community of Ikobera.  The closest school to the church and our clinic was closed as the children are off school for the month of April and, depending on the school, until after May 1st which is always a long weekend.  Before I tell you about our day, let me tell you how Canadian Nurses for Africa started.  Gail Wolters and Aggrey Mulamba had a conversation in a Tim Horton’s one day and Gail said to Aggrey “have you ever thought about sending a medical mission to Kenya to help the people there”.  And so it was born.  Before we start this week, all of us have to thank both Gail and Aggrey for their hard and continuous work.  The planning for these two weeks started last May when we returned home.  So thank you to both of you.The Salvation Army Church in Ikobera had a concrete floor but the concrete in the entrance had suffered considerable decay.  The registration tables were put up and balanced with delicacy due to the uneven floor.  We had to share our workspace with at least one chicken and her chicks.  There was a…

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We have spent the day organizing ourselves

We have spent the day organizing ourselves.  We had to bully the staff here a little to have them remove both beds from the room we use to store the medication.  But they kindly did it, with the manager helping in his nice suit and tie. We walked over to a nearby market (as a group of course) and  purchased a few supplies we need for the clinic, such as salt and water to make our own saline for wound care.  We also ordered some treasures for the race goody bag from Kakamega craftsman.  We are waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. Watching the excitement of the women when they get off the bus, jet lagged, weary and shaken to the bones from the road, is a delight.  Tomorrow we start our first clinic in Ikobero.  That is the reason we are here.  I hope you can keep on reading as our weeks progress and leave us a note on the blog if you want to post a comment or ask a question. Talk to you soon,  Dawn

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This is a special day

This is a special day.  Aggrey arranged for a 14 person van to pick us up from St Anna’s and to take us to Leo Chemist to meet an old friend and to pick up our medication.  48 boxes of medication was waiting for us.  This is where all the donations go….it is better than gold to the sick.  The van was packed to the roof with 44 of the boxes and Johnstone, a trusted community worker, accompanied the driver with the boxes to Kakamega.  This is truly the start of our mission.  Naturally, the driver of the van tried to renegotiate the fee as we had “overloaded” the van.  He managed to squeeze a little more from Aggrey, as was to be expected, then off down the highway. Sara Otemo, who has worked with us for the past four years, met us outside the Kisumu District Hospital, and arranged to give us a tour.  We told security that we were nurses from Canada and we there as Sara’s visitors.  Jane, who worked with us two years ago, assisted with the tour as Sara was working Saturday afternoon. Touring the hospital was like two worlds had collided.  We had stepped back in time to a…

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Today started with a smile. 

Today started with a smile.  Lynn woke everyone up but couldn’t seem to get Trish to respond.  After repeated pounding at her door, I said I would continue the effort in a few minutes. After considerable pounding and calling her name, I didn’t have any response either until Trish opened her door which was down the hall.  The poor Belgium man in room 2 was certainly awake though.  We had an exciting day today.  We drove to Bondo to visit a medical clinic and an orphanage run by the Francisican sisters (the owners of the Rosa Mystica and St Annas).  The proceeds of both guest houses go to operate their various clinics and orphanges.  We met up with Sister Beatrice at a gas station in Bondo and she directed our travel along some bumpy dirt roads to the clinic, only about 13 kms from Bondo.  This Sister is a trained RN and she impressed us with her knowledge.  The clinic, which is open 24 hours, treats approximately 50 people a day.  The patients pay about 30 shillings for their care, which is less than the treatment is worth.  We were impressed with the quality of care and the careful medical treatment the patients receive.  They…

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Thursday April 26, 2012

It is hard to believe that we have arrived once more in Africa to start our medical mission of 2012.  The flight from Canada was long, 15 hours in the air plus stops in Brussels and Bujumbura, which is in Burunda.  We were met by Jerri Mulamba, Aggrey’s nephew.  He hasworked with us previously and  we would be quite lost without him. Our advance group of four overnighted in Nairobi at the Rosa Mystica, a guest house run by the Franciscan order of nuns.  Sisters Pacifica and Margaret met us for breakfast and impressed us with their calm and gentle ways.  I always feel so hyper when speaking with them.  We left Nairobi around 9a and arrived in Kisumu about 6:00 pm.  As the main road was in poor condition, we travelled an alternate route which ran through the Rift Valley.  We were only about an hour out of Nairobi when we were pulled over by two police officers, a male and a female.  To state the female officer was on a power trip is to underestimate.  Jerri and our driver got out of the vehicle.  The female officer stuck her head in the window and asked where we were going.  Trish replied, “Kisumu”, and…

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