Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trip to lake navaisha and Mukuru

sorry for not blogging yesterday, it was a late night by the time we got back. yesterday was a national holiday here in Kenya (madaraka day). Since many of the schools and other places were closed, we took a trip to lake navaisha. We had a fun drive down through the Great Rift Valley. The views were amazing!! We took 4 boats around the lake and stopped at crescent island for a lunch break. We also took a 3 hour walking safari of the wildlife on the island.

We stopped at a lookout of the Great Rift Valley to take pictures and do some more shopping. We then headed back to the resort we are staying at, ate a quick dinner, and headed off to bed. The plan is to be up early!

Today we headed into the slums of Mukuru. Most of the group worked on distributing water purifiers to some of the residents. They also did some red elephant project supplies and played in the courtyard with the kids. 4 of us worked on home visits. It is quite amazing how, compared to our US standards, poor the conditions are. We visited with a patient who suffered burns a few years ago. Some of the burns were still not healed. We delivered some medication and dressing supplies for her. There was also another patient who had heartburn. A few days of medication, and she should be feeling better. This patient was also looking for insulin for her 14 year old son. It cost 1400 Kesh ($14.00 usd) per month for insulin. She is unemployed and also pays rent. One other patient we had the opportunity to see was very Ill. He will be sent to the hospital in Nairobi.

We are packing tonight as we will be departing in the morning for our safari. Hopefully we can ind some internet on the safari to post some pictures.There are several people who are still looking to do some shopping... if they have room to bring stuff home!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Huruma Slums Clinic Day

Today we drove out to the Huruma slums of Nairobi. What an experience. All the cars, trucks, animals, and people coverged into one chaotic torrent going every which way. The roads are so worn and full of deep holes that it is a wonder we didn't lose a tire. Smells of cooking meats took turns with smells of human waste, exhaust fumes, and garbage wafting into our windows.  Once we were actually in the slums, we were instructed to close our windows to prevent people from reaching in to take belongings.

The slums are gated, and the roads are very narrow.  Not to mention they are littered with trash, people, goods, and children playing.  I have a newfound respect for our drivers, who are also our guides. After squeezing our 3 vans through a winding maze, we arrived at the Ark Childrens School, home to 355 kids. We were met with grateful teachers and excited students.  Our first mission was to give deworming medication to all the students.  While they had sour faces for us due to the not so great taste of the medication, their frowns turned to smiles when they were given a piece of candy, a rare commodity.

Next we grouped off into 3 rooms where we saw all the sick children, and a pharmacy room to dispense the treatment. Then the children came flooding in. In just a few hours, together we examined and treated around 100 children and adults for a wide varity of ailments.  We saw scabies, tinea capitus, folliculitis, skin infections, fractures, lice, malaria, molescum contageosum, ear infections with perforated ear drums, tonsillitis, ring worm, pneumonia, pharyngitis, urinary tract infections, and prenatal cares. I was in the pharmacy and it was very busy. All the children were ushered in for their medication with eager outstretched hands.  The 4 hours we were at the school flew by.

Afterward the ladies of the community invited us up to check out their hand sewn bags and purses.  Most of us had to take home a gorgeous colorful hand sewn souvaneir, for an unbeatable price to boot.  Before our journey home the school leaders, and our entire team took up hands and said prayers and thank you's.

After our long day we were all famished. Four of us attempted to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the back of the van while driving. The roads were so bumpy and wild, it was like making sandwiches on a roller coaster. Our ride back to the hotel was long, rough, and congested. It was rush hour in Nairobi and the roads which were usually crowded were now a discombobulated cluster of chaos. Single lane roads turned into 3-4 lane roads of cars, trucks, people, and bicicles going every which way. Finally after battling traffic for a few hours we arrived back at our hotel, ready for evening dinner.  Tonight will be a refreshing hot (hopefully) shower, and a good night's sleep to get us ready for a new adventure tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be traveling, and internet access may be sporadic. We will try to update the blog if possible.   - Jen Rieger

Trip to Kibera

Today is Monday, the 30th. We were up early to make the 2 hour trek to the Kibera slums to deliver medications to children, their teachers, and parents. The team hauled several bags through narrow paths and alleys to get to the school. The children were smiling ear to ear when we arrived. Ages varied from 3-months old to  15-years old. We were able to set up a pharmacy and see over 200 children. We de-wormed several children and treated for upper respiratory infections. Interestingly, it is quite dusty and dirty where the children live and sleep.

There was trash and sewage with no electricity or running water. Goats, chickens, and pregnant dogs lined the alleys. We were able to bring in shoes and school supplies. We also had a big bag of special toys for the kids. One boy ran over to give a thumbs up with his new glitter sunglasses and Thomas the Train shoes. The kids  are especially happy here, they are so excited for one piece of candy they can hardly stand still.

The children memorized and performed a speech dedicated to Hope Without Borders, promising to succeed whenever given a chance. Some of the children had severe cases of tinea or fungus on their heads. We were able to give them medications to help them heal.

We returned to Lukenya eager to shower from the dirt baked on our faces. We were all eager during our dinner because it was Lance's 60th birthday. Julie had a beautiful party tent set up with an African band and cake. It was so touching to here the men speak about Lance and tell the stories of how they met him. It was evident on their faces and in their words that Lance's big heart and desire to help other people has touched people in every part of the world. We had trouble connecting to the internet with the computer so we will get this posted as early as possible. We are missing everybody back home but really enjoying these priceless moments.

Crystal VanDaalwyk

Saturday, May 28, 2016

First Medical Camp

Good Evening From Tsavo Park. Today has been a long but rewarding day. We started out our morning at Voi Guest House with a nice breakfast right after sunrise.

We dropped off our team leaders at St. Joseph Hospital to see the retired Nuns and provide for their medical needs while the rest of us took a bumpy dusty ride to a remote village to perform our medical camp at an outlying clinic. On the way we saw Camels, Baboons and other animals. One of the interesting things we saw
looked like giant ant hills of red dirt, but our guide Simon told us they are actually termite hills.

At the medical camp we broke up in too teams, with 3 teams seeing patients and one team running the pharmacy. We saw 120 patients in the time we were there, from small children to Grandmothers whose age was unknown. Many of them complained of pain in their joints, allergy symptoms, headaches and vision problems to name a few. One of our team leaders extracted a tooth.
It was hard to send them away at times when we didn't have what they needed, but they always thanked us anyway. Everyone is so friendly and appreciative for every little thing we could do for them, even if it was just lubricating eye drops. We had a large group of local volunteers performing intake, pharmacy, translating and even a Kenyan Medical Officer to help see patients.

After many grateful goodbyes, we traveled into the park to stay at a guest house. We drove some very poor areas on the way to the guesthouse and it was fun watching the small children wave excitedly at the "Mizungu" which although is probably spelled wrong is the Swahili word for White People.
On arrival we checked into our rooms, and went for a nice swim in the pool overlooking the Serengetti. We saw a lot of Elephants watering at the water hole as well as water buffalo and some gazelles. We haven't seen any lions yet but we have heard them. Then we enjoyed a nice dinner, and some of us retired to our rooms while others sat up playing a card game called Pick or enjoyed the stargazing. Tomorrow is another travel day as we head to our next medical camp site.
Till next time.... Heather and Danielle

Friday, May 27, 2016

Road Trip

Day 2 is in the books! We traveled  6+ hour today. While we consider a long drive boring and monotonous at home, it was anything but that here. We saw an accident on our journey today in which a large food truck carrying milk and rice had spilled its contents everywhere. The Kenyans were running and coming from all directions in order to snag even one bag of rice or milk. They were even jumping out of their own cars (which did not help the traffic speed up at all). There were even people running from the bushes and fields all to get some scraps of food.

We took a break during the drive at "The Curio" where we all bought hand craved wooden sculptures and cloth tapestries. We all had our chance at bargaining today; it was "sort of" fun. It was a beautiful shop and it really is incredible how talented the Kenyans are with these trades.

Our long ride today also brought many animal sightings: Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my! (Just kidding mom.) We saw baboons, zebras, many breeds of birds, donkeys, impalas, goats, dogs and many cows (tied up to trees like they were on leashes). The landscape was beautiful and the farther we got out of Nairobi, we saw smaller and shorter trees and the sand darkened to a beautiful red. Heidi warned us all MANY times to not roll in the red sand.

On the van quest across Kenya, we also observed many markets and schools.The markets were caddy-wompus and crooked. They all set up their own shops along the roads for beverages, baskets, wooden sculptures, sling shots, and many other goods. When traffic is slow, they come right to the car to try and sell to us. We were able to stop by one road-side stand and make a few locals incredibly happy with sales.

Our day finished visiting with  Sister Gen at the St. Joseph's Hospital and getting a tour. It's hard to describe what we saw in a few short sentences, but we can tell you how good and easy we Americans have it back home. There are wards based on gender, multiple patients to rooms and there is NO air conditioning anywhere! On this compound, there is also a home for the working sisters and a home for the sick and elderly sisters. Sister Gen was very excited to show us the new additions to the hospital including a "Major Theater" (operating room) and their shiny new ultrasound machine! They
also added a church and a morgue to their compound.

We've just enjoyed a family style meal and are currently listening to the staff sing while Julie and Naomi are planning on teaching us Africa dance. From all of us here in Kenya, Jambo!

Suzie and Katie
PS. We've been having some trouble with internet access so please don't be concerned if we don't post on a day or two :)

Day One in Kenya

Today was our first full day in Kenya. We arrived at our destination around midnight/1 am. After a quick night's rest, we headed out for the day. We left the compound to find multiple wildlife roaming right outside the gates. We saw impala, zebra and wildabeasts to name a few. We continued our journey through Nairobi, Kenya's capital. Along the way, we were able to get an idea of how densely populated the city is. Traffic was very congested and unorganized. During areas of stand still traffic, there were people selling all sorts of things in the road, such as cold water, bananas and snacks. Many others had set up shops on the sides of the roads to sell clothing and food. To accompany the traffic came a haze of smog and a variety of smells that we don't typically experience in the US. The exhaust from the diesel trucks and the smell from the local meat factory were the main contributors to the air pollution.

After an hour of traveling through Nairobi, we arrived at our first destination, The Giraffe Sanctuary. We all had such a great experience at the giraffe sanctuary. We had the opportunity to feed and pet giraffes. Some of us even got a smooch on the lips from the giraffes for food. We got a brief lesson on the history and mission of the sanctuary from one of the giraffe handlers. We also learned more about giraffes, their lifespan, behaviors and breeding. After spending some time with the giraffes and taking lots of pictures, we browsed the gift shop. Once we all bought a few souvenirs, we loaded back in the vans and headed to the Kazuri bead and pottery factory and shop.

Here we learned about the history of the Kazuri bead factory. This was established to help single mothers obtain employment and independence. We had the opportunity to tour the factory and we saw the women hand-making all of the beads and pottery. We got to learn about the process and how the profits help these women to maintain financial independence. While shopping, we were all privileged enough to hear the women join together in a beautiful song.

We journeyed through Nairobi again, this time getting a better view of the slums where around 1 million people live in poverty. This was a very eye opening experience for many of us, as to see how privileged we are. After arriving back at our home base for the night, we sorted through and began to organize the 26 bags of medical supplies, school supplies, clothes, shoes and other donations. We ended our night with dinner and a group debriefing where we shared our experiences throughout the day. At dinner, we all got to try an African food called ugali, which is a very common corn dish. We are all tired from traveling but look forward to going to an area 6 hours outside of Nairobi tomorrow where we will tour a clinic and get to experience more of Kenya. We will keep you all posted on our journey and experiences!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Welcome to our adventure

We want to welcome each and every one of you to our travel blog. We can't wait to tell you what we are doing. If you want an email notification when we post, sign up on the right hand column under :"Sign up to follow by Email". You can also view this blog on your mobile device.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who have supported us, whether it was through a donation, emotional support, in-kind donations or just encouragement. We THANK YOU.

So, let's go on this adventure and you.