The Long road to Kitale

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Today I was taken to the bus depot in Nairobi (another driving adventure as it was rush hour) where I meet my escort Joseff, who would make the journey to Sister Freda's medical centre (the place I will be volunteering at for the next two weeks) with me to make sure I arrived safe.  I won’t bore you the details but just give you some facts:

- 8 hours on a not so nice bus on roads I described in my last entry. I’m so glad I took another person’s advice and wore my sports bra for the trip.

ˇ Only one 20 min rest stop for the entire trip

ˇ    Aside from your basic cows, goats and chickens, I saw one lone zebra standing in the middle of a field and then I saw one lone white fluffy house cat sitting in the middle of another field

ˇThings sold on the highway are according to what’s being grown at that particular area. At one point everyone was selling oranges, then it turned to potatoes and cabbage, then carrots, then peas… pre-shelled I might add, roasted corn and last but not least was any kind of garden plant you can imagine.

Just as we arrived in Kitale it started to pour rain but our next connection (Sister Freda’s son Eric) was there waiting for us. With a quick transfer of bags we were on our way to the medical center which is actually on farm land about 20 minutes outside of Kitale. My first glance driving into the compound quickly erased any pre-conceived notions I had conjured up in my mind.

I was greeted warmly by Emily who is a nurse aide at the clinic but also looks after the volunteers and she showed me where I’d be staying for the next two weeks.  It’s a basic large cement room attached to the back of the clinic, with my own toilet and sink.  The shower is outside around the corner and does have hot water.  So far so good and am happy to be here. Or perhaps I’m just happy to get off that bus!

Sister Freda started her medical clinic approximately 18years ago.  She started by providing basic health care and the dispensing of medicine to the very poor in the area of Kitale.  Through donations she has been able to build and run a hospital specializing in child birth (women prefer to go to give birth instead of the district hospital due to the better care they receive and the fact they don’t have to share a bed with another mother), and where they also have a major operating theatre where they can perform C-sections and other surgeries requiring anesthetic.  Out of necessity (people just leave their babies and children – one boy they found lying in their corn field while cutting corn) she has started an orphanage where she has 11 kids ranging in age from 4-10.  Most are healthy with one having developmental issues (approx. 7 years old), one who is HIV positive (5 years old) and one who is severely mentally and physically challenged (19 years old).  They last 2 live in the hospital while the rest of them live in dormitory style accommodations with a house mom.

Sister Freda has also been able to build a primary school to provide education to approximate 110 neighbouring children in the small village of Birunda.  Through another program called "Feed the Children" she is able to provide the kids with likely their only meal for the day, Githeri (beans and maize).

In the last two years through additional donations Sister Freda is also running a high school for girls and a nursing college where both young males and females can attend for 3 years and train to become a nurse.

Sister Freda is very well respected in the community and surrounding area for all the work and support she gives to the poor. She unfortunately lost her husband this past May, and due to the laws (power of attorney is not given until the person dies) here in Kenya she has fallen into some difficulty in keeping all of her endeavors going as her foundation finances were all in her husband’s name; thus the bank account has been frozen.  She has been able to be creative and get by until the lawyers can resolve it, but it certainly hasn’t been easy for her and the people that work for her.  It’s been difficult for me to hear the stories and see what I’m seeing with my eyes but trying to keep my inherent practicality about it all.
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