Friday, August 24, 2012

PINCC's Work in Kibera Aug 20-24, 2012

We just completed a most successful week's work in Kibera, Nairobi,
Kenya. Each day brought many patients, volunteers, Kenyan lunches,
and exciting work to screen women for cervical cancer.

The team was absolutely TERRIFIC. Congenial, to say the least. Two
women (mother and daughter) who worked in both Uganda and Endebess
joined our team for the first two days, then left for safari in
Tanzania. We were also joined by two local Kenyan volunteers, one of
whom had just recently returned to Kenya from having lived in the U.S.
for 16 years. She was accompanied by her aunt who is on vacation from
a government job teaching cosmetology. Both Nimo and Joyce were
incredibly helpful and delightful. And filled with information about
Kenyan life, marriage, Kenyan customs, and food.

We saw over 100 patients this week. For me, it was difficult at times
trying to understand responses from Kenyan women. They seemed very
quiet while waiting, sometimes for hours unfortunately, and never
complaining. Not quite like in the U.S.! I was impressed with the
amount of family planning practiced and the number of women taking
antiviral drugs for HIV + status. Of course, there were those who
didn't want to get pregnant and were not using any family planning.
Many women had 3 or less children and most lived in Kibera. Walking
into Kibera every morning was less crowded than leaving each afternoon
- lots of children wandering about saying, "How are you?" Kibera
seemed to come "alive" each afternoon.

The Kenyan clinical & administrative staff working in Kibera was
terrific. There were approx 8 trainees, and they worked vdiligently
and were very eager to learn and take direction from both the nurse
practitioners and Dr. Kay performing internal exams, PAP smears, &
colposcopies. Several were given certificates to carry on; some
needed more training but we are hopeful they will again return in
January when PINCC returns for another visit.

While this is not my first trip to Kenya, it was clearly one of the
best. I am taking away thoughts about how life exists in a very
impoverished area of the country. For me, I feel I have given my
administrative skills to a project that is very valuable to women's
health. The healthier a Kenyan woman can be, the more empowered she
will become in controlling her life and that of her family.

This has been a remarkable trip and I am planning to meet Linda and
Julie, mother and daughter, in Zanzibar next week. I also feel I have
made new friends whom I will definitely keep up with once back in the
U.S. PINCC volunteers seem to have so much in common with a purpose
of giving to those who don't have as much as we have in the U.S.

We should never forget that the greater population of the world is
impoverished and lacking health care.

Randy Weiss

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pics from Kenya

Previous pictures are from Gombe, Uganda and these are from Endebess
Hospital in Kenya

home at last

Unfortunately, we had almost no internet access in Kitale so I was
unable to update everyone on our progress there. The good news is now
that I'm home, I finally show everyone some photos!

Although Dr. Melissa had to leave on Thursday night, we were joined by
Dr. Kay on Friday and were able to certify many of our trainees in VIA
at Endebess Hospital and a few in cryo as well.

We then had a very long journey to Nairobi on Saturday and after many
transportation issues, Jaya, Priya, and I made it to the airport in
time for our flights back to the US. I won't go into detail except to
say that we rode in 4 different vehicles for a total of 12 hours.

I finally made it home on Sunday night and went back to work in the
Bronx today. I can't believe how lucky I feel to have an exam table
with stirrups and disposable table paper and drape sheets. I feel so
spoiled and grateful that every exam room has a sink with running
water and electricity. I truly have a different perspective about the
care that I give and also how much waste exists in our health care

But on the bright side, everyone I encountered today who knew where
I'd been and what I'd been doing could not wait to hear about my
experience and was so proud of me and impressed with the work that
PINCC is doing.

I've heard the work in Kibera is going well and hopefully we'll hear
something from the rest of the group soon.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Arrived safely in Kenya

After an easy border crossing but a long drive complete with a bit of
pouring rain and a loose fan belt, we arrived in Kenya yesterday. (So
far the bathroom in Busia at the Uganda/Kenya border, which costs 10
Kenyan schillings to use gets our vote for the worst of the trip).
After thanking Mike, our driver, for his fantastic driving skills, we
settled in at The Kitale Club. It's an interesting and pretty place,
set on a golf course. We were happy to be able to sit outside on the
patio and watch the sunset - which we did for a while since it took so
long for our dinner to be ready!

Today was our first day working at Endebess Hospital and we were happy
to set up and get working. We had many trainees with varying levels
of expertise so it will be interesting to see how they progress
throughout the week. Everyone seemed enthusiastic about continuing
their training and was eager to perform lots of exams.

Maria, an MPH student, joined our group here and is working with the
community health workers to educate them and some of the clients about
HPV and cervical cancer.

I'm looking forward to more work tomorrow (and hopefully a shower with
hot water).

Will try to keep writing and updating you on our progress. Sorry no
pictures yet but I am working on it!

Keep reading!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I did not know exactly what to expect upon arriving in Gombe, Uganda. But the circumstances at Gombe Hospital were even more dire than I anticipated in terms of staffing, equipment and resources. We were shocked when Dr. Haruna, who not only runs the hospital in Gombe but is also the head hospital administrator for the entire district, told us that his budget was cut by 33%. He was also not allowed to hire new staff unless someone retired, even though the hospital was at about 50% in terms of staffing. Oh, and by the way, he came to greet us and deliver this news after completing a c-section for a woman who had placenta previa. The condition had been identified before delivery and the patient had been instructed to stay near the hospital. She and the baby made it out of surgery healthy and another woman's life was saved.

Despite all the challenges, the team of clinicians at Gombe was upbeat and motivated. Nurses, medical students, and anyone who knew we were there was eager to meet us and learn whatever we had to teach them. The patients, although nervous, were very grateful for the services that were provided and at the end of the week, 3 of the clinicians, Sarah, Penninah, and Carol were certified in VIA. Dr. Melissa was absolutely unrelenting in her quest to get the cryo machine to work and after some duct tape and chewing gum (I kid you not), she was successful and able to certify Penninah in cryotherapy.

Our team of PINCC volunteers has really gelled: me, Julie, Dr. Jaya and our fearless medical director, Dr. Melissa are the fabulous clinicians. Then there's our nurse extraordinaire Linda (also Julie's mom) who is willing to teach anyone who will listen. Our support staff members, Shelby (Melissa's daughter) and Priya (Jaya's daughter) are hard workers and mature behind their years. And of course, none of this would even be possible without the always calm and supportive Carol, making sure we have what we need and get where we need to go.
Today we had a day off in Jinja which we spent shopping and then on a sunset cruise on the Nile. We had a bit of rain but overall it was fun and beautiful.

We leave for Kenya tomorrow morning. Can't wait to see what adventure awaits us!

Hope we will be able to post some pictures soon!
Rebecca Donn
Sent from my Android phone with SkitMail. Please excuse my brevity.