Trip Start Jun 29, 2009
5Trip End Jul 20, 2009
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It has been a whirlwind of experiences so far so this will be a long entry. Yes, I got my luggage thank God. We actually left for Saikeri the next morning (July 2nd). We took a Matatu there driven by some of the most fun Fadhilli members, Chombli and Jackson. There were 3 other volunteers with us who we dropped off at their host families, which are closer to Nairobi than the 4 of us. Then we were dropped off in Saikeri and met our new family. Maggie is the nurse/doctor/midwife/pharmacist at the Saikeri medical clinic. She was going to be all 4 of our host mum (the 4th is a nurse named Laura from Boston) but I am actually staying with her neighbor Beatrice, another volunteer from Austrailia, and Betty's 2 children..and Laura is staying in another building. I actually love this a lot. Maggie's home has MANY people coming in and out and Betty's home is very...homey and I love feeling like a part of the family. I am staying in a room about the size of a bathroom with a cot, mosquito net, and a small nightstand. I wouldn't have it any other way. Every evening our family listens to Maasai radio, has dinner, and then visits and then I mostly go over to Maggies to chat with everyone.
We are definately in the heart of the Maasai. I mind as well throw away my Swahili book because everyon speaks Maasai. I am learning to speak a little from my host mom and host sister Mary who speaks very good English. Betty does not speak the greatest so she is teaching me while I am teaching her English. Mary is 9 years old and has been wonderful, taking me around the village and giving me gifts of Maasai jewelry. Then there is Suruni, the 3 year old boy who is FULL of energy.
It is a tradition to give all the Muzungus (white people) Massai names. Mine is Sointa and I am nothing but that. They say that you will soon forget your real name, which is becoming true even after almost a week. They say "Sointa!" and then I would respond, "Eyo" which is a polite way of saying yes.
Every experience here is fullfilling. Even riding on the Matatus into town. I am now in the city of Karen ( about an hour and a half away from Saikeri) with all the other volunteers and with Symon, my host dad. He is showing us around and making sure we do not get lost and translating for us. We took a pickup truck into Gnong and believe me they fit as many people on as they can...including goats sometimes. Then the Matatus are the local vans/buses where you really have to keep your wits because pickpocketing is very very common on them. I saw a pickpocketer eyeing Kelly's (Nanda's) pockets so I kept staring at her the whole time so the guy could see me :).
Ok onto the most exciting part, the medical clinic.....
It is not at all what I expected. It is better. In fact, if I were actualoly working under my USA nursing license, it would most likely be revoked. Like I said about Maggie, that is what I am doing as well. I am acting as the nurse, doctor, pharmacist, and midwife if needed. Patients come in and walk there as far as 3 hours away to come. They are mostly mothers bringing in their children but we often see adults as well. The routine is this: take a history of the symptoms ( we have a translator), perform an assessment, diagnose the patient, prescribe the medicine (yes, we are prescribing!), dispensing the medicine and then teaching. It is so much work but is so incredible. I feel like such a rock star! The first couple days we had Maggies help which was nice BUT, she is going to be gone on Monday in Nairobi getting vaccinations and will leave us in charge of the whole clinic. AHH! The clinic is a building with no electricity or running water...you do everying thing in one tiny room then send them to the next room to get their medicine. The worst so far was having to give Penicillin (which you give all shots in the butt) to a few babies beacuse they start screaming. All the patients are Maasai and where the traditional Maasai garb, many warries with their sticks...and most have extremely enlarged earlobs, shoes made out of tires, and their bottom front 2 teeth cut out by a knife when they are little. It is humbling how much everyone likes to have us around. Many of the mothers are often 15 years old, sometimes younger or older. The Maasai become mature at a very young age.
3 weeks is too short. I would love to spend more time here...the time has flown by even though I haven't been here that long. One of the other volunteers, Emma (Senewa) was originally supposed to be here for 2 months, then extended to 4, then to 6, and now she is staying for 12 months. It is easy to adjust, especially "Kenyan time", which is whenever you get there...that is good for me since I am always late. The food is wonderful! they are feeding us very well and I will definately NOT lose weight here. There is so much more to write here but I will leave it at this. We will probaly come into Gnong or Karen on Saturdays so I can update it then. Otherwise, I am in love with Kenya, particularly the Maasailand. Love you all!!