Meetings and greetings
Trip Start Oct 25, 2012
19Trip End Nov 17, 2012
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That was the morning. They are going to have a go at putting this into practice over the next few days while I'm away and can discuss how that's gone on Thursday or Friday.
Paul went to the Ark for the morning with our kids whilst I was doing this and they all seemed to have a riotous time playing outside. They came back to New Life and we had lunch with Susannah, who devised a new taste combo of banana, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, which they both scoffed! Paul went with Guy to the men's fellowship and ate Kenyan stylie. Although given the amount of Kenyan food we've had recently, consisting of beans and cabbage, he could really have done with a day off - the duvet needs battened down these days.
(I'm not the only one! - Paul)
Paul then took them off for a swim as it was a sunny afternoon and I had my next meeting with Esther, who is a Dutch woman who has been here three years and works with homeless people. In particular there is a group of sixty women from a specific tribe who are all homeless, addicted to drugs and solvents and glue, and live under a bridge. They all raise money whatever way they can, mostly through prostitution, many are raped frequently, they often have HIV or syphillis and get pregnant a lot. Their kids are often born with some sort of disability due to all the drugs and alcohol consumed through pregnancy and the infant mortality rate is very high. The kids often have HIV too. The kids live with them normally until they get to school, then the teachers raise the child protection alarm and they are removed at three or four. The women drink illegal alcohol and many have blindness and cognitive impairment as a result.
Esther runs a programme for them in a day centre, with education about keeping safe, contraception advice, opportunities to get food and somewhere to stay for the day, counselling and the opportunity to learn skills. It is impossible to get them off substances whilst on the street, as that is their only way of coping with the vile existence they suffer out there. So she wants to set up a rehab service and start with fifteen women, taking them through rehab, with bed and board and accommodation for the kids as well. The programme would be for a year, after which the women would have the opportunity to move to a farming community away from Nairobi and their life on the street, which would inevitably lead to relapse. She wanted to know about the rehab idea and how to go about it. As I worked in drug and alcohol last year I was able to offer some advice, especially on detox and how to avoid serious medical complications through that process. There are Kenyan psychiatrists who are offering help, but none had thought of this absolutely fundamental aspect, which is really worrying, but doesn't surprise me as the standard of medical and especially psychiatric care out here is at least 20-30 years out of date and pretty crap.
I went through some of the other principles and then there was an interesting question. She asked whether I thought it was worth it. Whether the damage the women have suffered was so great and the resources needed so vast and there would be drop outs and relapses even with the best care, so whether it even could be done, or whether this investment would be better used in extending the street programme. Difficult question. No rehab would exist in Kenya for this group, though people are starting to set things up, mostly for men. There's nothing in Nairobi. So my conclusion was that if there was no way out, as there is not at the moment, that was a terrible fate for those women and children. But if there was a way, a choice that could be made, a way to get a better future, then it would surely be worth it.
I still don't know if that's the right answer.
We are off on safari tomorrow and not sure whether we can blog, so you might not hear from us till Thursday. By which time I'm hoping we will have seen some animals and got some cool pictures to upload.