Monday, March 23, 2015

Home safely...

We all arrived home safely on Saturday. It was a long 30+ hour journey. Thanks for following our adventures and we'll try and post more pictures....

Friday, March 20, 2015

Safari and travel days...

Hi Everyone, sorry we had no internet access last night and they shut off the electricity at 10:30 pm. We had an awesome safari and saw may animals including; elephants, zebras, giraffes, water buffalo, wildebeest, hippos, lions, gazelles, impalas and more plus many beautiful birds. Today we are traveling 4-5 hours back to Nairobi to catch our flight home. It has been an amazing journey.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Community Outreach in Voi

The lions roaring woke many of us throughout the night. Early this morning we had the privilege of watching lions feast on a newly killed buffalo. In the distance the luckier buffalo continued their migration, and a family of elephants passed through. After enjoying the animals and having breakfast, we traveled to St. Joseph's Hope Shelter in Voi where a room full of patients were eagerly awaiting our arrival. From there, the team split into two groups. One team was to stay at St. Joseph's for a medical camp that had been arranged there, and the other half traveled approximately 1/2 hour to a rural community outreach clinic that is supported by St. Josephs. This community outreach program serves the rural outskirts of Voi with HIV/AIDS services on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. On this off day, news traveled fast that a medical camp was being held. Those of us at the rural outreach were so lucky to have local community service members available to help triage the patients and translate the Swahili language for us. Our medical camp brought out many members of the community who are not normally seen or treated, therefore, all these patients had rapid HIV testing done prior to being evaluated by us-as HIV remains a community epidemic. We treated a wide array of conditions from simple to complex-we treated a lot of respiratory issues, joint pain, rashes/fungal infections, abdominal pain related to malnutrition and worms, a few STD checks, and malaria cases. Different from the medical camps in the Kibera slums, we had a few more options for resources; we were able to refer patients for further work-up and treatment at the main hospital. We treated approximately 70 patients in the rural outreach program, and then traveled into the community to do two home visits. We first visited an elderly lady with a history of HIV and recent Tuberculosis infection. She had spent her working years as a farmer, and now is unable to support herself because of her chronic illnesses and debilitating pain. Sadly, because of the stigma associated with communicable diseases, her children have left her. We were able to provide her with medication for temporary pain relief; she was so genuinely grateful that we took the time to visit and treat her. The appreciation of the people here is amazing. In Africa, there is no social security, and the elderly are dependent upon their families for financial support and care. This woman is checked on occasionally by the community workers, but otherwise is left to fend for herself. She is emaciated, and often unable to afford food.To us, this was a heartbreaking situation and evoked a lot of emotion and discussion; we all felt compelled to do something to provide relief. We have collected money to provide her with food that stores well, and lasts longer: beans, maize and rice. Meanwhile, the other team was busy treating a variety of illnesses. At the end of the day, they had treated around 200 patients. Again, there were many differences noted from our first medical camps in the slums. The patients today were able to provide hand-written records of their previous medical care, and had access to previous x-rays. The team had a lot of help from hospital officers (health providers who are employed by the hospital). The team was excited because they were able to use the ultrasound machine the we brought, and were able to do a few minor procedures. This was a nice setting to practice in because it was a fully functioning hospital (not quite like in the States, but REALLY nice by Kenyan standards). There was also a fully functioning operating suite, that we, unfortunately, did not get to play in. Many children were evaluated and treated for respiratory issues and allergies. Hypertension is a big problem,  much like in the U.S. The teams met back at the hotel, enjoyed a hot dinner and exchanged patient stories from the day. Tomorrow, we will wake early in hopes to see the lions again (hopefully closer this time) and then spend much of the day traveling. Tune in tomorrow to see where we end up...

Megan and Tracy

We had an ALL DAY friend at the rural outreach clinic...

Tracy evaluating a patient at the outreach clinic

A patient today-her orange/blonde hair is related to malnutrition.

Vicki working hard with Dr. Eric and on of the sisters at St. Joseph's Shelter of Hope.
Megan assessing a family...

Alissa seeing a family at Voi

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

travel day

Today was a long hot day of travel. We traveled 6 hours from Nairobi. We are staying in a beautiful lodge overlooking a safari park. We toured the hospital we will have a medical camp at tomorrow. Six of us will go to a remote village to hold a second medical camp and do home visits. Pictures and a longer blog tomorrow. Right now the team is playing "Pick" an African card game. We enjoyed celebrating Josiah's 25th birthday complete with green beer (thanks to Robb who brought green food dye).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bring HOPE in the slums of Nairobi

Today was an inspiring combination of love with our team members giving and sharing hope with the people of Kenya.  Our day started early, with the rooster crow and sunrise over the Kenyan skies.  We packed our vans with supplies such as shoes, medications, toys, school supplies, and glasses that were graciously donated by others.  To Kibera we would first go. We would see some familiar faces of children we had previously met at the giraffe sanctuary a few days ago.  The children welcomed us with great enthusiasm of cheer and hand shakes.  We divided ourselves into four groups; pharmacy, clinic, shoes, and vision.  Time flew by in controlled chaos and before we knew it four hours had passed and it was time to pack-n-go.  As we departed, the children celebrated with songs of thankfulness.  In that short while, many of us had left our hearts with the children; their faces imprinted into our memories forever.

After packing, we had some American food...well okay Italian, pizza.  Thank you Mama Julie and Lance it was delicious!  We drove to another slum in Nairobi, Huruma, which had a slightly different feel than Kibera.  Huruma is a prominently Muslim area. Here we were met by another group of excited children and set up shop.  The afternoon flew by, a sea of sore throats, itchy eyes, rashes, and belly aches...our supply piles gradually dwindled and soon Simon was saying "we go, we go".  We were able to fit several children and adults with glasses and will try and post some of those pictures in the next few days.

While the medical team was caring for patients Lance, Duncan and Christopher installed a water purification systems for the schools.  This is a critical step in promoting the health of the children in the slums as this will provide them with clean water which they do not typically receive. The school was very thankful as many of the children suffer from water-borne diseases.

A long and bumpy car ride back to our hotel left us feeling tired, yet we were greeted with a hot meal and a Kenyan singing quartet.  We retire ready for another early day with a spiritual satiety and happy hearts.

Amber, Alyssa, & Nicole

The Kibera kids reciting poems and singing for the team.

Nicole with her new friends in Kibera.

Lance giving Bernard a large purifier for the school children in Huruma.

Dr. Robb ducking under the laundry in Kibera.

Kibera children singing to the team.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Adventures in Learning

The day started off with church by the pool then an exciting drive through Kenya by our most wonderful guides.  You never know what to expect on the roads of Kenya.  However, we always arrive to our destinations safely.  Our guides are extremely patient and try to enhance our learning experience by stopping for surprise wildlife and educating us our the African environment.  One unexpected stop was for a tower of giraffes and wildebeests.

 Our first official stop was at The Great Rift Valley where we gazed upon Mt. Longonot.  If you follow the valley it will lead to the Indian Ocean.  We also did a little shopping where we learned how to barter Kenya style.  We had so much fun and learned a few lessons.

We continued on to Lake Naivasha where we took boats out to see hippopotamuses and many native birds.  The guides got us so close to the hippopotamus that one student tried to convince Mama Julie that we were going to play slap the hippo.  This is a joke about slapping a bull on it's backside to see if he is alert.  Mama Julie said no to playing that particular game.  We also did a small safari where we were able to approach zebras,  impalas, and wildebeest and perfect our photographic skills.  We were unable to approach giraffes here because they were intermingled with water buffalo and the water buffalo have a tendency to charge.

After our eventful walking safari we came back to camp discovered hungry monkeys.  We fed them bread and they entertained us for a few moments before our long journey back.

Tomorrow we are off to the slums of Niarobi where we will provide medical care and eye glass fittings for their residence.

All of us here in Kenya would like to thank our family and friends for their support and love throughout our journey.

God Bless,

Suzanne R.S and Vicki E.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hey guys!!!

     Our first destination today was to Latia Agripreneurs, where they teach local farmers how to better plant their crops, manage their livestock, and help to sustain their local community with fresh produce. We were able to take a guided tour around their facility, fields, and livestock area. It is a beautiful place to visit. It was amazing to see how much ingenuity goes into planning and harvesting their produce. This was an inspiring place to visit because they even offer overnight stay to the trainees to help complete their learning.

          We also went to Kibera today, one of the largest slums in Africa. We first visited a local school where the kids sang songs and recited poems. They were so happy to see us. Some remembered us from the giraffe sanctuary and came running up to meet us. We then went on two house calls to provide medical care. We separated into two groups, one seeing a child and the second group seeing a husband and wife; both families had very different needs. We were in the group that saw the family. This family had been in a car accident. The husband sustained a right below the knee amputation. The wife had been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre, and had residual muscle aches and weakness, where she felt pain when she tried to squat. We did a thorough bilateral knee assessment on her and actually found that her bilateral quadriceps muscles were very tight. Beth, a Physical Medicine and Rehab Physician helped us teach her how to do exercises to stretch those muscles. The woman found them very helpful. She enjoyed them and we all joined in to do the stretching as well. Can you imagine?! It was so awesome! 12 of us in a small one unit living space bending over to stretch our quads. The husband wanted us to examine his stump; Robb a general surgeon examined and palpated this gentleman's leg and found it to be healing nicely. We plan to see them again to follow up next week.

      The conditions that we saw were improvements from Hope Without Border's visit last year. We had a less difficult time getting into the slums to make the visits. With this being said there are still great needs in the slums. The president is building new living places, but some people that reside in the slums cannot afford to move into those new places. We can only hope that the conditions continue to improve, although it may take some time.

 Latia & Kibera

      Overall today's experience left me confused about my emotions. I first felt shocked about all of the people and the conditions that I saw. It was almost surreal to me because living in America, maybe I could not grasp that this actually went on in other places in the world. I then felt ashamed of everything that I often take for granted that I am fortunate to have. I was so amazed by all of the smiling, loving and happy faces that I met today. I have a new perspective on life and I feel like all of the senseless things I worry about so much back home are a waste of my energy. I know that I am only here for a short amount of time but I hope to empower the Kenyan people and do the most good that I possibly can... and honestly I feel like I am getting so much more from them than I could ever do for or give to them... ~Tommi :o)

I feel hopeful that although these children live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, that they are still able to play and laugh and smile each day. I was really impressed that the teachers are strictly volunteers and that they care so much to look after and care for the children all for free. I am glad to hear that the improvements on the roads and sewer systems have made it safer and cleaner environments of these families. -Jessica

Tomorrow we will be heading on a boat to see some hippos and church :o) See ya then!

Jessica F. & Tomisha B.