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.