Wednesday, August 1, 2018

HIV support groups and the orphanage

We enjoyed a day out in the community meeting with patients affected by HIV. It was actually a joyous occasion and they shared with us some of their challenges. Many of them can't find employment, so they have little food. BUT, they have each other!

Wednesday we went to the orphanage in Bora. There were 33 children there, raised by nuns. They were well-behaved and they have a farm that supplies them with everything they need (except diapers, oil and sugar. We had fun blowing up balloons and playing with the kids. Some of the kids cried when we left :(

We are now on safari and will arrive home August 4th-so no more blogs. You can still follow us on Facebook.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday, July 30th

Another full day!  We started the day with Kenyan coffee and chai, bananas and fresh eggs.  Then ventured off to our second day with Hospital staff and patients.  One group of students spent time in a delivery (a beautiful, healthy baby girl!), another group provided morning care in the ward. In triage, -Monday morning proved to be busy with men, women and children arriving for check-ups and treatment.  Having put in a full day at the hospital, we rounded out the day there by discussing health care issues and promising practices with hospital medical and administrative staff. Ongoing challenges include HIV and AIDS (with the prevalence reported to be higher than the national prevalence); access to clean water; and diarrheal disease.  Communities here have stepped up to these challenges and are making strides to improve health and quality of life. We are all tired out and ready to collapse under our mosquito nets for a good night’s sleep. 

Peggy and Courtney

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Saturday, July 28

Early mornings and fresh beginnings! Waking up to the sunrise in Africa is like no other. The sun shining bright on the mountain tops was very peaceful and serene. We started our day at 7:00 a.m. with a lovely breakfast prepared by the caretakers of the guesthouse. The tea (chai) and coffee is always amazing!
After breakfast we had the opportunity to visit St. Joseph Shelter of Hope Hospital. This hospital was built in 1999 and started with only five employees (3 of them were Nuns). Currently, the hospital employs over 100 employees with one doctor being in charge of all minor and major types of surgery. We had the amazing privilege of observing a cesarean section. Turome had the pleasure of naming the new baby girl Wynnsor Ann. She weighed 3.4 kg with a one minute APGAR score of 8/10. After we observed the surgery, we followed Dr. Matthew to attend care of his other patients and collaborating with his staff during rounds. They care for their patients as best as they can with the limited resources and technologies that were provided. It was interesting to find that ultrasounds to detect the sex of the baby did not provide a definite result. We learned that HIV/AIDS is the most prevalent disease among the Kenyan population. Another interesting fact is that those infected with the HIV/AIDS virus are provided with free medications for a lifetime. We also found that some of the patients had a diagnosis of meningitis secondary to tuberculosis. After our rounds with the Dr., we enjoyed a nice lunch with sister Jenn and Dr. Matthew. The fries, as known to the Kenyan people as chips, were so yummy! After lunch sister Jenn gifted us with colorful Kangas and showed us all the different ways to wear them.
              After we left the hospital, we went to the market and bought traditional African dresses and lots of snacks. The market sells great fresh fruit and hand-made items. After our time at the market, we headed back to our guesthouse where we hand-washed our clothes and hung them to dry. We had a yummy dinner of chapatti, mashed potatoes, kale and stew. After a peaceful and collaborative dinner, we observed a breath-taking view of the moon. Thankfully, this is what Africa has to offer. We then went upstairs to play a fun game of “Heads Up.” We couldn’t have laughed any harder if we tried. Popcorn and beverages were provided while we played the game. Although this was a fun game for us to play together, it was also a team-building exercise which will make us stronger as a team while doing God’s work in the days to come. We are blessed to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience. 

Sherrie and Tea

Friday, July 27, 2018

Thursday and Friday update

Thursday: Today we went to Beacon of Hope, an organization situated in the Kware slum in Nairobi. They have a school, vocational school (which includes beauty school, farming, weaving, plumbing and sewing). They have a clinic and do home visits. We really enjoyed our day there and shopping in their store. Now it's time to pack and get ready to board the train bright and early tomorrow.

Friday: Today we were up early with breakfast at 6:30 am. We boarded the brand new train at 8 am and were able to see zebras, giraffes, elephants, gazelles and small scattered villages as we went along-the trip was 4 hours. We enjoyed talking to other passengers on the plane, which made the time go by faster. We toured the local hospital where we will be working for the next few days. We will try and post pictures tomorrow. Everyone is doing well. Some are homesick, but we have become a team and are enjoying each unique personality.

Tomorrow we will be working in the hospital. There is one scheduled c-section that the students will be able to observe and the rest of the team will be staffing the wards.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What would you choose?

What would you choose? Sometimes choosing can be such a hard task. Many times we are indecisive because we have many options. For people in the Mukuru slums, making the decision to eat or have other necessities can be the difference between life and death. Our interviews today with some of the Mukuru families influenced all of us on a different level. We had the opportunity to interview some of the girls who have used the Red Elephant packs, and learn about their likes and dislikes, and how the packs have worked to improve their lives.

We conducted eye exams for the local villagers. We didn't anticipate a huge turnout, but with the grace we of God we had over a hundred people show up for glasses. We were able to conduct eye exams using eye charts in Swahili, and we fit everyone who showed up. There are no words to describe the feeling of the joy you saw when they were able to see. They were in tears and so were we. We gave them the gift of being able to see, and that empowered us indefintely.

Today we also had the opportunity to make home visits to families who live in the slums. We had the opportunity to visit 3 families and provide medical care to them if needed. The first family we visited was a family of 7. Their daughter has been using the Red Elephant Packs since May, and we found out that it has been working very good for her. We also examined the mother because she has recurrent asthma. We did not have any medication on hand to give to her, but we were able to give her 40 bobs so that she is able to refill her asthma medication, which will hopefully prevent further issues. 

The second family we visited was a family a family 9. The family resided farther into the slums. They did not have access to electricity, so we were able to provide them with a solar powered light bulb that can light up an entire room, so the children will be able to do their school work. 

The third family we visited was a family 3. The family consisted of the mother and her two daughters. We did not provide any medical care to any members of the family, but we did a wellness check, and both the mother and daughters were healthy and had no complaints.

Turome and Mama Julie and local Kenya volunteers visited a 6th grade class to distribute the Blue Lion packs. The boys are amazing. One boy, Joshua has started a rabbit farm and we were able to visit it and encourage him. Our local volunteer Joseph is a farmer and was able to give him good advise on how to raise rabbits. Also, the school has been raising chickens through the Blue Lion projects, helping the boys to sell eggs and pay for books and uniforms.

The ladies of the local sewing co-op "Ladies of Hope" met with Mama Julie and executive director (Kenya) Duncan and discussed cost analysis and how to figure out how much to sell their bags and jewelry for. The co-op was started by Hope Without Borders (HWB) but is being run by 9 local women an 1 man (who is a tailor). Their workmanship is great and they were excited to show off their talents. They have started sewing the Red Elephant packs for the local girls (purchased by funds from HWB).

Today was such a rewarding experience for all of us. We were able to build relationships with the people in the slums and really learn more about their everyday lives. We were able to see first hand what these people encounter on a daily basis. These people live in conditions that no one should ever have to endure, yet they are the happiest people on earth! It was so fulfilling to get the feedback firsthand on how the Red Elephant packs have changed their lives, and how we can improve to make it even better. This experience has inspired us and humbled us all. This day just made it more eager for us to finish pursuing our mission. We pray to encounter more days like these to inspire us as we continue our trip here in Africa.

Ashlyn and Melanie

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Elephants, giraffes, and shopping oh my!

After spending yesterday in the Mukuru Slums, today we were stereotypical tourists. We visited The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which is a elephant orphanage, then made our way to a giraffe sanctuary and finished our trip with shopping at La Galleria.

Our first stop at the elephant orphanage was a pleasant surprise and some happy tears were shed. We were able to meet all of the orphaned elephants who had been found and rescued until they are big enough to be released back into the wild. After listening to all of their stories, we were so touched we decided to foster an 18 month old male elephant named Maktao. Maktao was found alone at 3 months of age by a community member with no other elephant herds in sight. After Maktao was saved they soon found out he was a perky, friendly elephant and loves to follow humans around. Being able to contribute to the cost of feeding and keeping these elephants healthy is a special and rewarding opportunity for all the CUAA nursing group.

Next we visited the giraffe sanctuary and got up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. We were able to feed the giraffes and enjoyed some wet slobbery kisses. While at the sanctuary we learned that there were multiple species of giraffes and also that a giraffe has the same number of vertebrae as a human! This experience was exciting and we all had a blast.

Last but not least we stopped at the shopping center which was full of locally made crafts, clothes, and jewelry. This is where we put our bartering skills to the test, some better than others. This trip gave us the opportunity to mingle with some of the locals and help support their personally run business's. We all left with good finds and great stories to bring home with us.

Just when we thought our adventures were over for the day, we experienced our first Kenyan traffic jam! It was unlike anything we have ever seen before, with all rules of the road aside. The road is paved with 3 lanes and it was turned into a 6 lane road with people going around on the shoulder and through the ditch to get where they were going. Bumper to bumper around here in an understatement while being mirror length away from cars, weaving in and out of traffic. Thankfully we have amazing and friendly drivers who are able to navigate the roads like pros in order to get us back to our hotel safely.

We finally made it back to the hotel and enjoyed a nice dinner by the fireplace prepared by the hotel staff. stories were exchanged, laughs were shared and memories were made. Our day was unforgettable and we continue to pray for thanks as we look forward to the next coming day.
Cierra & Gillian


Monday, July 23, 2018

Bringing HOPE

After a weary day of travel and getting to bed very late (3 am) we woke up to the sound of beautiful birds (and a rooster- not beautiful) and had breakfast at 7 am. After breakfast we discussed what it means to be content with what you have. After quick packing of supplies we headed to Machakos to see a center for disabled children, the only of it's kind in Kenya. The staff was so passionate about caring for these children and educating the families. It is considered a family curse to have a disabled child and many times the parents hide the children and they never leave the house. Parents have attempted to kill or poison the children to help them die faster as they are such a burden to the family. One patient we saw was born with spina bifida and was abandoned by the parents and the grandmother was left to raise the child, though she is very poor. Some families also chain the children to the bed so they can't get out of the house and be seen by others. These children are in need of wheelchairs, medical care and special equipment. The center is raising chickens and small crops to help cover the fees, but their shallow wells have no water now and the crops are dying. Today was an assessment trip for Hope Without Borders, to determine if we are able to help in any way. We were also their first visitors!

We left the dusty roads of Machakos and headed to the slums of Nairobi. The children waited for us patiently as we wove through traffic. We had to carry the supply bags far as the roads near the schools were impassable due to deep mud and open sewage that was flooding the streets. Who new we could traverse over such difficult terrain while carrying 50 lb bags- bravo team!!!

~150 + girls received Red Elephant packs today. These reusable packs help keep girls in school as their parents can't afford sanitary pads and the girls then need to miss school when they have their periods (every month). We started this project in 2014 and have distributed more than 1200 packs in more than 6 countries- and the girls are staying in school. We couldn't be more excited or proud of these amazing girls.

The boys were not left out and received Blue Lion packs! These packs help with personal hygiene as well as mentoring from our local Kenyan volunteers (all men). They encourage the boys to respect girls and to respect their own bodies. When we were in this slum in May, the Blue Lion team encouraged the boys to find a hobby or do something productive with their free time (instead of getting in trouble). They took our advise and started raising chickens. They now have 28 chickens and are able to sell the eggs to help pay their school fees so they can stay in school!!

Please follow us on Facebook as I am unable to upload photos here (due to the slow internet). Until tomorrow.....

Facebook:    (I can upload photos to Facebook-so check them out).