Sunday, April 22, 2012

On our way home!

Hello everyone! After a wonderful weekend at Maasai Mara Game Park, with very exciting game drives we are in the Amsterdam airport waiting to board our flight to Minneapolis! It is very bittersweet leaving Kenya but we are all excited to get home and see loved ones and friends! See you all soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Carissa!

Hello everyone! First of all Happy Birthday to Carissa! Yesterday we spent the morning at Nyumbani Orphanage and it was wonderful. The orphanage takes in abandoned and orphaned children who are HIV+ and fully supports them to provide holistic services including: education, nutrition, medication, counseling, and housing. All of the children were so adorable and it was really a beautiful center. We were able to spend time talking to Sister Mary, who helped found the center, and she was really great at answering all of our questions and sharing her vision with us. It was amazing to see how far the treatment of HIV and AIDS has come for the children in Kenya, but yet to see how much more there is that can be done. Then we headed off to lunch at Karen Blixen Tea Garden with Dr. Wambugu, the dentist at the Kikuyu Dental Clinic. After lunch we headed to the giraffe center and it was so awesome! We got to feed the giraffes and even get giraffe kisses if we put food in between our lips. We all thoroughly enjoyed being up close and personal with the giraffes and we learned a lot about the different types of giraffes in Kensy, which will come in handy this weekend at the Masai Mara! Today was another busy day that started at the Kikuyu Hospital. Sharon took us to see the Dental Clinic that was supported by the work of Sharon Secor and her Presbytery partners, and it is now fully supported by the Kikuyu Hospital staff. The tour of the hospital was great and we were able to see our first ICU and ventilator. It was good to learn more about the differences between rural and urban health care settings. Next we headed off to the Dagoretti Children's Centre and we were all in awe of the work they were doing there. The centre is a part of Feed the Children, and they serve the mentally, physically and developmentally challenged children along with HIV+ children. They also serve children who are not being taken care of at home, while also educating the parents to help provide better care. The centre was beautiful and all of the children welcomed us with open arms. It was really neat that the therapy center provides free services to the community twice a week and the program also provides food to all of the schools in Nariobi and the surrounding area that do not have food programs. All of the children were wearing TOMS shoes because every time a pair of TOMS are bought, a pair is donated to children like these! Tonight we celebrated Carissa's birthday by surprising her with a delicious cake from a local bakery! It was a good way to spend our last night in Nairobi! Thanks for reading! We won't be able to update while we are at the Masai Mara! We will see you all soon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Zebras, giraffes and rhinos... oh my!

Hello again!

We have had quite the eventful past three days. Sunday morning he headed off with our awesome driver Steven to Lake Nakuru Game Lodge! We first stopped along the way at an overlook of the Great Rift Valley, which is also known as the "food basket" because of how productive it is. For the first time on the trip we all got to bargain with the locals for some beautiful souvenirs, and we will all agree that it is slightly stressful, fortunately they were all very nice and treated us well. The road that we were traveling on was built by Italian Prisoners of War during WWII! We learned that Nakuru town is the fastest growing city in all of Africa, which is really great! We finally arrived at Lake Nakuru Game Lodge and were greeted by lots of baboons, they are very entertaining animals to watch! Over the next two days we went on four different game drives and they offered their own adventure. One of them was beautiful and sunny, one was rainy, another was at sunrise and finally we had an incident. We were blessed to be able to see all of the different animals that we did including: flamingos, a hippo (which is rare because they do not live in alkaline lakes usually), zebras, rhinos (and a baby rhino), giraffes, cape buffalo, water buck, thompson gazelles, impalas, lions, hyenas, warthogs, elands, silverback jackels, and many different birds. It is completely true when they say it is a bird watchers paradise. The rooms we got to stay in were phenomenal! Our backyard was 20 feet from the fence that kept the animals in and we had zebras grazing and a black rhino browsing! It was awesome! Steven is a great tour guide and helped us to identify many animals and answers any and all questions that we had! It was really fun to just be on the lookout for the animals. On our last game drive out of the park we were on a lion hunt and came across a rather large mud hole, in which our safari van got stuck! So we all piled out of the car bravely and after 45 minutes of pushing and shoving we finally got the van unstuck! Brooke even got to take a turn at driving the manual safari van so Steven could help push! It was quite the adventure but we all enjoyed it!

After being in awe of the African wildlife we headed on our way back to Nairobi! We had our first experience in an African Supermarket where we all tried some new foods. We then stopped at Kazuri Beads and Pottery, which is a shop that was founded as opportunity for single women to learn the trade of bead and pottery making. The shop started with just a few women and now employs over 340 women, all of whom take part in every stage of making the beautiful hand crafted and painted jewelry and pottery. We were able to tour the facility and see the women completing each step in the process. At the end we got the opportunity to shop in the store and there were a lot of tough decisions that were made because all of the products are stunning!

Today we toured Nairobi Women's Hospital and learned so much from the wonderful people there. It was really neat to compare urban healthcare to the rural healthcare that we saw in Chogoria. We were able to talk with the general manager and director of nursing to get many of our questions answered! This afternoon we were able to do some more souvenir shopping at shops that support low-income individuals and it is always neat to see what they can make! Tonight we went out to eat with Salvador, one of Sharon's friends, at a delicious Indian restaurant and spent time talking about the health care system in Kenya! We all learned a lot and were grateful for the opportunity to spend time with him, since he has been a doctor here in Kenya for 16 years! Thanks for reading and we'll post again soon!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Back In Nairobi

Hello everyone!

We had a day full of traveling from Chogoria back to Nairobi. Along the way we stopped at a lovely restaurant called Izaak Walton Inn and we enjoyed a delicious buffet meal followed by cinnamon cake! We enjoyed looking at the beautiful scenery along the way and watching the great people of Kenya work so hard in their fields. We are now settling into the CHAK guest house for the night before leaving for Lake Nakuru in the morning! Everyone is very excited to see the flamingos and other animals! Thanks for reading and we will update once we get back! Love from all of us here in Kenya!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tharaka Medical Camp

Hello everyone!

We are back from our trip in Tharaka where we helped with a medical camp. The trip out to Tharaka was very rough and we were all hot, tired and hungry by the time we got there. Thankfully, Douglas had made us delicious cake and packed us fruit which we all enjoyed under the whimsical Baobab tree! The lodge we stayed at was very nice and we had quite the animal noise orchestra at night to keep us company. After setting up the tents on Wednesday night, we ate dinner at the Baobab Lodge and all tasted goat for the first time.  We woke up early on Thursday morning to eat breakfast at 6:30am with the rest of the staff and there were patients lined up who had arrived the night before. The medical camp offered free services including: blood pressure and blood sugar screening, malaria and other lab tests, eye screening, dental care, family planning, HIV testing, dressings, pharmacy and visiting with a clinician. We started seeing patients at 7:30am and we all got to participate in the different areas of the medical camp. It was the hottest weather any of us have ever been in, but thankfully it rained in the afternoon to cool it down a little bit. We served 894 patients throughout the day, and they presented with a wide variety of health needs. The patients that we saw had traveled as far as 80 kilometers (48 miles) by foot, bike, motorcycle and a few by public transportation. The Tharaka area is very arid and poverty stricken, and these patients were very grateful and happy to receive free medical care. After cleaning up the camp, the nurses welcomed us with open arms and hearts into their culture by teaching us traditional songs and dances. In return, we taught them the Cupid Shuffle as well as other songs. It was so much fun to be immersed in their culture and to share a bit of ours with them. The nurses loved learning the Cupid Shuffle and then we shared dinner with them to finish off the night. This morning we got up and had breakfast with the staff and then headed back to Chogoria. We spend the afternoon doing some laundry and saying goodbye to all of the special people we have met here in Chogoria. It is safe to say that this place will be missed greatly by us all. Tonight we are heading out to dinner with some friends and we will head to Nairobi tomorrow morning for a new adventure! Thanks for reading and we send our love!

All of us before starting the medical camp! Thank you Sharon for taking pictures all day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Outpatient Experience

Hello to everyone!

Today we all had great experiences in different outpatient clinics after touring the school called Chogoria Complex. The students are all so well behaved and welcomed us into their classrooms with songs and poems. It amazes us how polite they are and the questions they asked us, some of which we did not know the answer to! The nursery children (4 years old) can spell three letter words, write the alphabet and put small sentences together. And the 8th grade children are learning about the anatomy and physiology of the kidneys, they were all so very bright! 

Brooke and Leah spent the morning in the Well Child Clinic where the mothers bring in their children for immunizations and it serves as a walk-in clinic. It was very interesting to watch the nurses give the shots because they are very different than what we give in the U.S. The student nurses are amazed at that we did not have a Tuberculosis vaccination, and it is always interesting to hear their reactions to what nursing care is like in the U.S. Then after lunch we headed out with two public healths nurses to Mwimbi Primary School and educated Grades 4-8 about sexuality, HIV/AIDS and STIs. That was quite the experience because everything was in Kiswahili, but thankfully we had a student nurse who was able to translate for us. The students were all well behaved as always and had very good questions to ask and it was a great experience to be a part of.

Ashlie, Brittany and Carissa did a variety of things today.  We witnessed an autopsy, which was a unique experience.  The highlight was that Brittany and Carissa got to hold a human brain!!!   We also visited the HIV/AIDS clinic and learned a lot about the disease and management.  One clinical officer taught us about sexuality in Kenya and how this affects the transmission of HIV and other infections.  The afternoon was spent in the operating room (surgery theatre).  We saw a wound debridement, urethral cyst removal, and a rectal surgery.  We learned a little about the anesthetics used and how they clean the room between patients.  Surgery is VERY different in Kenya and we are learning a lot.  

Then tonight for dinner we went out to eat at a new restaurant called Lenana and it was very good to get some authentic Kenyan food! We head out to help with the medical camp in the morning and we are excited to see a different part of Kenya! Thanks for reading, we all send our love!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Another Day at the Hospital

Hello everyone!

Today we all had a very intense and exciting day at the hospital. Carissa and Brittany spent the day in the maternity ward and also got to tour some different parts of the hospital. They were able to spend time with some mothers and newborns, see the morgue and the lab at the hospital, all of which were very interesting. They also got to play Badminton with some of the nursing students and they had such a blast doing that. Ashlie, Brooke and Leah spent the day on the Pediatrics unit and it was a very exhausting day.   We were able to participate in patient rounds with the doctors and they helped us to better understand the diseases that are most prevalent on the ward. We also got to observe and help with infant CPR and we all learned a lot from that experience. It is always a joy to spend time with those children and their mothers, who love seeing us and getting their pictures taken! This morning, we all got to take a tour of the Chogoria Girls High School and it never ceases to amaze us how well behaved all of the students are. It was also really neat to see the farm on the campus where their food comes from, along with the bakery that supplies all of the bread! Overall, it was a very good day and we are excited to travel to Tharaka tomorrow for the medical camp!

Love from Kenya!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter Everyone!

This morning we got up and went to church here in Chogoria and it was a wonderful experience! It was a four hour long service with lots of singing, prayers and a great sermon by Pastor Brenda. We were able to see confirmation of new members, baptisms and participate in communion. After the sermon they had a fundraiser for the new church that they are building and they raised over 246,000 schillings ($3,000) through donations and an auction (harambe). We were able to participate in the auction and between us we bought some porridge, bananas, sweet potatoes and people also bought things for us to try. Sharon bought a goat for the boys at Millimani School, which was really neat. It was quite the experience to see a goat and chickens get auctioned off during church. There were lots of children in church that enjoyed having their picture taken and taking pictures of us. After church we were invited to have lunch with all of the elders and that was really nice! Tonight, Pastor Brenda invited all of us for an Easter dinner with a mix of American and Kenyan food and it was absolutely delicious. We are very thankful that she opened her home to us. Now we all journaling and relaxing before another busy week at the hospital and medical camp. Pictures are challenging to upload so they will be posted every now and then! Thanks for reading!

Love from Chogoria

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chogoria and Beyond!

Hello again!

Today was a day full of adventure and very exciting land rover rides. We began by visiting an overlook of Chogoria and it was breathtaking. While we were there we met Francis, the man who founded Chogoria Hospital in 1940. He was now 98 years old and doing very well. After taking a few pictures we headed out on a very bumpy car ride to go to David's mother's farm. At the farm we were able to learn about how tea is grown and harvested, as well as many other foods, fruits and vegetables such as macadamia nuts, mangos, avocados, coffee, pigweed, and passion fruit. The farm was right next to the Mount Kenyan Forest and elephants walk out of the forest, through the tea fields and up to the house to eat the bananas, and the only way to get them away is to burn rubber because they don't like that smell. We also got to see one week old puppies and how sugar cane is cut down. Then we went on another adventurous ride to visit the quarry. The quarry is where they cut rock from cliffs to make bricks. That was quite the experience and it was interesting to see that type of work. After we got back to the guest house we met Sophie, a nurse, so she could take us to a salon to get our hair braided. That was really fun and we had such a great time with all of the hair braiders and it is a new look for us, much easier to take of! Then when we got back we met Millicent, a public health nurse in Kenya and she answered a lot of questions and was such a wonderful woman! Overall it was a very exciting day and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! Thanks for reading, more pictures to come tomorrow! Love from all!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Outside of Chogoria

Hello from Kenya!

Today was another great day! We spent the day on the post-surgical ward with Brooke and Leah on the women's side and Carissa, Ashlie and Brittany on the men's side. From both experiences, it was observed that the poor living conditions contribute to a lot of preventable hospitalizations and we are learning a lot about the Kenyan culture through the nursing care provided. We have found many differences and some similarities between the nursing care they provide and the nursing care we provide. After another delicious lunch prepared by Douglas we packed into a Jurassic Park Van to visit some of Sharon's friends. Our first stop was Milimana School to deliver suitcases and backpacks to Erik, Festus and Dennis, three boys that are being sponsored to go to school through Sharon's church and friends. We got to spend time with the children at the school, take a tour of the school, play some football, and also sing and dance with them. The children are all so polite and could not get enough of touching our hair. We then piled into the van, all 15 of us, to take the boys to their home for break. The home that the boys live in was built through donations from the church in Chogoria and it was really neat to see. We also gave their mother a blanket to keep warm at night. It was extremely beneficial to witness how little they have and yet how happy they are.
The five of us at Milimana School with some of the students!

Molly and Sharon with Erik, Festus, and Dennis outside of the house that was built for the boys.
After we left the boy's home we went to visit another one of Sharon's friends. The mother has seven children and they also live in a house built through donations from the Chogoria church. This mother was also given a blanket to keep warm at night. We were able to learn so much about the different plants, fruits and vegetables they make use of every day. The neighbors also taught us how to make porridge from maze and that was really interesting. The kids were darling and had so much fun seeing the inside of a car for the first time. It was tough to leave them as they ran behind the van waving to us.

Tomorrow will be another day full of surprises and great experiences! Thanks for reading! Love from Chogoria!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Another Exciting Day!

Hello everyone!

Today was a very exciting day for all of us! Ashlie, Brittany and Carissa went to the pediatric unit for the day and had a great time meeting all the wonderful kids and families. They spent time providing nursing care to the patients and also coloring pictures and taking pictures. Brooke and Leah got to spend time in the Maternity ward and also in the surgery theater. There was only one mom in labor the whole day so they got to see fracture repair (ORIF) and a hernia repair, both of which were very interesting! Then after lunch they were able to see a very intense delivery, and observed the resuscitation of the infant, which is very different in Kenya. We also got to spend time visiting the schools that are near the hospital and the children loved having visitors. They showed us the exams they were taking and the books they used, which was so neat! Then they sang three songs for us and we enjoyed every minute of it! The nursing students on the maternity ward invited us to play badminton with them tonight on the field so before dinner we headed over to the field and spent time playing badminton which was really awesome because we got to learn more about their experiences as students. We had a delicious dinner prepared by Douglas and spent the night relaxing and journaling! More pictures will be uploaded tomorrow as it starts raining every night as soon as the sun goes down and the internet gets a little sketchy! Thanks for reading, we miss you all!

Love from Kenya!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 1 at the Hospital

Hello again!

After a long night of rain we woke up to a wonderful breakfast made for us by Douglas, who prepares the food at the guest house! Then we met with Katherine, the Director of Nursing at the PCEA Chogoria Hospital and Ragwa, the Director of the Hospital. We got a tour of the beautiful hospital and then we split up into two groups to spend a day on two different units.

The six of us getting ready to head to the hospital!
Brooke and Leah spent a day on the Pediatric unit and got to see a variety of cases, provide care to the patients, and spend time with the children drawing with sidewalk chalk. They were all so excited to play outside and Brooke and Leah learned so very much from the nurses and the families on the unit.

Brooke and Leah with Maureen, Sandra and Max. 
Brittany, Ashlie and Carissa got to spend a day on the Maternity ward and had quite the experience! The day started off with walking into a surgery theater (room) with a gastrectomy in progress.  A tumor was being removed from a younger girl's stomach; it was no ordinary tumor, but the size of a small bowling ball!  The next surgery witnessed was a c-section of a young, first time mother.  This was an interesting site in regards of how different the surgical procedure and equipment were from the United States.  After the c-section, a vaginal birth was observed by all three girls; again, the birth was from a young mother.  Another mother was in labor but had to have an emergency c-section.

Ashlie and Brittany scrubbing up for the surgery theater!

Carissa and Brittany in their surgery scrubs and rain boots - ready to go!

We are all very excited to see what tomorrow has in store as we experience new units and meet lots of new people! Thanks for reading!!  Love from all of us in Kenya!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Journey to Chogoria

Hello everyone!!

Today we woke up around 5 am to a Muslim call to prayer at the Mosque next to the guest house we stayed in and that was really neat! Then we ate breakfast and were on our way to Nairobi to exchange our money, buy bottled water and do a little souvenir shopping at a shopping center called Nakumatt. While we were shopping Molly was getting us indexed as nursing students at the Nursing Council of Kenya. Then we started our three hour drive to Chogoria. Along the way we picked up Annis's friend Flora, a nurse anesthetist at the Chorgoia hospital and her friend Ester, who is a profession hair braider. Annis and Mbae were our bus driver and guides who picked us up from the airport. They are really great!

Annis, Molly, Brooke, Ashlie, Carissa, Brittany, Leah, and Mbae outside of the Nursing Council of Kenya!
All of our luggage and crates with medical supplies! Thankfully we had great help along the way!

 The first stop on our journey was at a roadside market to buy pineapple. When we first pulled up everyone ran up to the van to try and sell us their pineapple but we ended up buying the pineapple from this sweet lady named Mother Silus. Then we all got out of the bus to meet the people and they were all so great! They all tried to take our picture on their cell phone and were so excited to see us! We even met some new friends - Elizabeth, Lydia and Dennis and they loved having their picture taken!

Molly and Mother Silus, the woman who sold us the delicious pineapple at the roadside market!

Elizabeth, Lydia and Dennis at the roadside market where we bought the pineapple!
 As we continued on our journey we were able to just soak in the beautiful Kenyan countryside which is green, luscious and full of vibrant flowers! We also saw lots of children walking home from school and they loved waving at us if we waved at them! Then we made a stop at a Daku, a little hut/shop, so Flora and Ester could buy some rice and we got some pictures with locals, who also loved having their pictures taken.
Gin, Pauline, Dickson, Fiona, Brittany and Ashlie at the Duka where we bought our rice!
 We made one more stop along the way to buy watermelon from another roadside market and then we were off to Chogoria. When we arrived at the guest house at the PCEA Chogoria Hospital we waited a little while to get into our house but got to spend time looking around and visiting with Brenda, who is a missionary who has been living in Chogoria for three years now! We then had a delicious dinner of beef stew, carrots and peas, passion fruit and mini bananas!
The five of us with our bus at the Chogoria Hospital Guest House!
Tomorrow we start at the hospital with the student nurses and we are all very excited! We can't wait to see what is in store and we will update tomorrow after the busy day! Thanks for reading!

Love from Kenya!

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Made It!!!

Hello everyone!! We have arrived safely in Nairobi and are getting settled in to the beautiful guest house! The flight was good, but we all got antsy towards the end! On the plane ride, we were able to see the beautiful Sahara Desert from the windows - super awesome! We are very excited to start the adventure in the morning when we wake up and go to the supermarket to exchange our money! We will update again tomorrow and upload some pictures! Thanks for reading, we'll write again soon!

Love from all!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

First stop... Amsterdam

Hello again! We have made it safely to Amsterdam and are now waiting to board the plane for Nairobi!! Some of us our sleeping and others are lounging after a tour of the Schiphol Airport, which is amazing! We are hoping for another safe and quick flight! We will update again once we land in Kenya!

Here we go!

Hello everyone! Welcome to our blog! We are all very excited to start our 23 day adventure to Kenya! After packing seven crates full of medical supplies to donate to the local hospitals and clinics, we are all checked in and waiting to board the plane! W hope to update almost everyday with pictures! We hope you enjoy reading our blog about out life changing journey! Thanks for reading!