Sunday, 8 November 2015
Saturday, 7 November 2015
The celebration began with traditional African singing and dancing - it was so high in energy and totally infectious! They had us clapping and dancing along with them and then they presented us individually with a tinsel garland and a thank you card.
Gary had made quite an impression on a 6 year old, Mohammed, who couldn't speak. He slapped Gary on the arm during the dancing so that he could join in which was really touching.
We all said a few words of thanks as we are truly privileged to have been able to contribute to the good work of the hospital.
We took some gifts with us and it was lovely to be able to hand them out to the individual staff and see how much it meant to them.
Afterward we visited the mission school to hand out footballs and paper and pencils. Colin was pleased that he was to meet the local scouts and saw their marching to raise the flag in front of the rest of the school.
The gifts were welcomed with so much enthusiasm, especially when the paper was handed to the headmaster.
Back to the eye surgery and we were all working together in one place trying to finish off the grouting and the painting of the walls. We started an impromptu singalong which Soloman and his team seemed bemused by...especially as we didn't have the full lyrics to any of the songs we attempted!!
It was fantastic to be able to see the theatre nearly finished on our final day and it was great to meet Kiprop, the eye surgeon, who will be using the theatre and who was extremely pleased with the progress.
After an emotional day we took our last walk home for our final supper with friends.
Noah our driver for safari arrived ready for our early departure.
Saturday has rounded off an awesome week, starting off with a rather long drive from Kimilili to Nakuru. We saw some interesting driving on the Kenyan roads and tried some sugar cane enroute.
Our mini safari didn't disappoint and rounded the week off amazingly.
This is probably our last blog as we don't know when our next wifi connection will be! See you soon one and all.
Colin, Debra, Gary and Nicky x
Friday, 6 November 2015
An early start to the day as we’re off to the market to see how the locals shop! According to our fundi (tradesmen) friends at the hospital, traders come from far and wide for the local market, even from Uganda over the other side of Mt Elgon.
The market is really something, there are piles of clothes and shoes, all second hand, along the side of the road and into the market area. Some traders are cleaning the shoes in buckets but how they or their customers find a pair that match is beyond me as there are literally loads of them!
The stalls are on plastic sheets on the red earth, some stalls are a little neater and have displayed their wares a couple I spot even have used a metal frame to hang some items. There are plenty of football shirts on offer (!), beautiful Kenyan designed materials and also traditional outfits creating quite a colourful market!
We move into the food area, the stalls have thick hessian sacks storing rice, lentils, nuts and more. They scoop out the portions using tin cups and sell them in small plastic bags. Onions, mangoes and tomatoes are all piled up and there is a general feeling of hustle and bustle but not too hectic, it feels safe.
The market is for the locals, and so there are few products of interest to us (although a few purchases were made!) but it is really interesting to see the way the locals shop – such a traditional approach and really hits home how lucky we are in the UK with the amount of produce we have available.
After a quick rest and a local made beef samosa (yum!) we visit the IcFEM gift shop which has a mix of gifts all locally made and as the proceeds go to the mission, we parted with our Kenyan shillings rather eagerly!
I’ve heard there is a local coffee factory and so I’m on a quest to find some Kenyan coffee, but have been told that the local coffee beans are shipped elsewhere for roasting and processing and so the local beverage is chai tea.
Back at the hospital we are keen to get to work and to finish the last of the cupboards…today they WILL be finished!
A brief plantain, kidney bean and greens lunch and we met with David the carpenter who, in his spare time, hand makes the most beautiful cards and pictures using banana leaf, local material and wood.
Whilst grouting in the eye surgery, Kiprop (the eye surgeon) finds us and introduces himself…a delightful man who is clearly very excited about the prospect of a nice shiny new surgery to operate in! This makes it even more clear how important the work we’re doing here is!
Back at the compound in the evening, we decide to have a little girls v boys trivial pursuit match (by torch light as the electricity has gone off again!) Debra unveiled herself as a ‘Trivial Pursuit Ninja’ to get the girls a victorious score of 2-0!
Love to all.
Nicky (and the team!) xx
Thursday, 5 November 2015
We walked up to the hospital today first thing – not so many greetings as the road was quieter with most people already in school or at work – the Kenyans are early birds!
Once at the hospital we’re ready for a good full-on day and get stuck into the project, picking up where we left off yesterday – recoating the cupboards that will be used on the male and female wards to store med and equipment.
Kensa and I watched the chaplain leading a service of thanks out on the lawn and some of the patients were singing with him and telling their stories…
A 40 years old woman had been trying to have her cleft lip operated on for a very long time and kept getting refused, then it got to a stage where the other hospitals would tell her she is too old.
She heard about Dreamland and came along this week for the Smile Train to be assessed. This week she will be operated on to correct it, a life changing surgery.
In comparison, a father had bought back his 23 month old, Belinda. Last year at 11 months old and only 3kg, she was too malnourished to be safe under anaesthetic and so Dreamland had showed him how to feed her to keep her alive and build her up enough for the operation this year.
He had made the long journey again and the father was sharing how he believes that Belinda will change his fortune.
Gary has been helping David the carpenter all day – he is so enthusiastic and welcoming and was really pleased to have Gary’s assistance!
After a brief chai break – with bread and butter sandwiches – Gary and Colin played football with some of the children waiting for their operation which was really appreciated and lovely to be able to help in another way!
They’re so grateful of our help all over the hospital and every time a hospital member of staff passes us working they would say “You are doing a good job!” – we’re starting to believe them!
A break for lunch included the Kenyans staple food, Ugali(maize flour and water). A stodgy lump of dumpling type food which Gary suggested could be used as a filler!
For me, it was back to the cupboards (this time using oil based gloss paint as the water-based vinyl silk had run out…we did not enjoy using it with the short tatty bristles!!) Plus I got to observe an operation on a 5 year old boy named Brian who was having a cleft lip and pallet repaired by Smile Train.
So a full day ended with beef stew back at the guest house and another night of eating in the dark due to the intermittent electricity and a storm!
See you soon,
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Another early start to the day and we pop into town to see the local area.
Same friendly welcome from all the people we meet on the road walking. The area is unfortunately rather uncared for with rubbish along the side of the road and rundown buildings – it is clearly very poor. However in contrast the shops are well stocked and the fabric shop in particular is busy.
We have the privilege of visting Amos’ house, he is one of the guards at the compound where we’re staying. He is very excited for us to be visiting him and his wife at their home.
The house is more of a hut, two rooms. It is timber framed with horizontal braces covered with mud. The walls are approximately 8” thick and the roof corrugated iron. Apart from the roof, door and fittings the house is made from natural local materials with almost no expense – in fact Amos built the house with his bare hands with the help of another ‘Fundi’ local tradesman.
Amos introduced us to his wife Kendrick who gave us a very warm welcome. We brought with us as gifts, tea, sugar and a Buckingham Palace shaped tin filled with fudge which he took a picture of! They were both very grateful which is lovely to see.
Kendrick shows us how to cook ground nuts (peanuts) with just water and salt which were the best we’ve ever tasted – warm and fresh...yum! Apart from Gary who doesn’t like nuts!
We talk about their life and their children who they’re very proud to have in a private school – no more than 30 to a class. Public primary schools have 100+ pupils per teacher.
The kids (5 and 7 years) start school at 7.30am and have to walk a kilometre to get there…on their own. They have “no fear” of walking on their own, it is very safe.
In comparison, Immo our driver had to walk 10km to school when he was a child which he ran there and back every day for a 7.30am start! We don’t know how lucky we are, that’s 20km a day, 100km a week which is amazing.
They tell us a little about Kenya and that there are 42 tribes in Kenya all with a different language and different dialects within that.
We take a look around Amos’ garden vegetable plot about 100m away. Passing other mud hut neighbours, small children came out and had a face of horror! We waved and they were unsure of us. We later learned that we were probably the first white people they had ever seen!! We asked ourselves how many English people had ever been to this spot. It is so remote it might as well have been a different planet!
Amos told us he had always wanted visitors to his house and had prayed for many years for visitors to come. We showed him pictures of our families, I had a photo of my house and thought “I can not show him this”, he has nothing; mud walls made it very dark inside, one tiny window, no decorations just two old photographs of the children on the wall.
Speaking to the rest of the team and Kensa it was decided it would be ok to show Amos the photo as he was interested in knowing about us and how we live.
So with embarrassment I showed him the photograph. He was very interested and said it looked nice but would not want to live in it. He likes his house, he built it and could not live anywhere else.
He grows everything he needs; bananas, coffee beans were grown to sell and he gave me some coffee beans off the tree as a present to take home, such a lovely family.
On to the hospital to continue our decorating. Just before we start our painting, I get the nod that I can pop in and watch one of the operations. So with no hesitation (!) I set off to the operating theatre, put on theatre trousers and top, head net and face mask, cleaned my hands changed my shoes and went in.
A little boy called Gift who is 14 months was on the table with a bad cleft lip. He could not eat properly which meant that he could die as he would be malnourished plus it was very unsightly.
I watch Tony perform surgery on this young boy using equipment and lights, monitors all provided by Brewers. It made me very proud to be part of such a great company that not only provided the hospital with the equipment but has sent me over to help in the next project, the eye treatment surgery. I was able to follow Gift's treatment all the way to recovery.
He did not seem very happy when he came round,but I know in future years that he will be grateful of the work carried out today with no cost to his family. Smile Train funds the operation, provides the team and pays DMH for the use of the facilities.
Gift fixed, I went back to the project! Painted some more cupboards, grouted the floor and then returned back to the guest house for a dinner of rice and beans and bananas.
The Smile Train guys invited us to join them to have coffee and chocolate with them, we had a lovely evening talking about the day. These people, some of Britain’s best medics in this field are just down to earth lovely people. It is a complete honour to be in their company.
Colin (and the team!)