Check out FIMAFRICA first official mobile clinic letter from Dr. Ameet Aggarwal Here
We are back from the bush...and what an experience it was. We arrived in Nanyuki on Sept 1st and met up with the ND we were working with, Amit, as well as a 4th member of our group, Liz. After our initial chat, we were pretty confident we were going to have a great time. We stayed the night at Simba Lodge, playing cards and trying our first Tusker beers (which was 100 shillings or approx $1.50 for 500ml!)
The next morning we were off to our first mobile clinic. The roads, if you can call them that, consisted of very rugged terrain. We would drive hours without seeing any people or cars, only to arrive at a very small village in which we were to treat. We would set up our little table and chairs outside, sometimes among herds of goats and cows. In total we travelled to seven destinations and treated approximately 60 patients. We treated mostly with homeopathy since it is the most sustainable and safe type of medicine to use in such rural areas. Our eyes were opened by the experience and the people we met. A few memorable cases include:
- an at least 100 year old woman (no-one knows their age out here) who walked miles to visit us at the clinic, only for us to diagnose her with Emphysema. Needless to say, we were concerned about her walk home so we drove her home instead.
- an open leg wound spanning the entire shin. It had not healed in 3 years and was finally starting to improve with the help of FIMAfrica.
- a 10 year old boy cured of asthma.
- baby after baby with various wounds, infections, or GI complaints. They were so beautiful and calm natured despite their conditions.
For the first week of mobiles we travelled with a medical clinic called Mpala. They focused on immunizations, family planning/contraception, and HIV testing. This added to our experience as we were able to witness lines of women and their newborns being treated. It fascinated us that this might be the first time they had seen a health care professional, and most of them likely delivered at home without medical help. Many of the women were very young, most of them teenage mothers with more than one child. We met one young woman who was 16 years old and had just delivered her 4th child. This made us realize our cultural differences. Here, men choose young wives and they are expected to have a baby each year. This made us understand the necessity of contraception and work Mpala did.
The amount of children we saw was remarkable! The majority of women we saw had a child on her back. Everywhere we went there was 2-10 year olds roaming the fields on their own. They were so eager to wave, jump, and shout at us as we drove by. They had such spirit and were full of life. They loved having their picture taken. The excitement of seeing themselves on camera overwhelmed them. When the cameras came out, we were swarmed with children. We enjoyed every second!
For those of you who are unaware, Kenya has experienced a severe drought this year with the last major rainfall being in March. This means that in the rural areas many local streams and rivers are completely dried up. People walk miles and miles for water, only to carry it home on their backs/heads. We have such a huge appreciation for water now, especially since we were on very short supply ourselves throughout our mobiles. For the animals this also means no food and severe dehydration. A lot of the land is extremely dry and desert like. The animals are skin and bones and it is quite disturbing. We felt so privileged to take a hot shower after 5 days of camping, something the people we saw don't have the opportunity.
Speaking of camping, WOW, we had some crazy nights out in the bush! The first two nights we stayed at Segera Mission, which ended up being the only nights we would sleep among humans. After this we went to Chololo, a private ranch spanning thousands of acres of gaming fields. Here, we slept with elephants, giraffes, hyenas, dik diks, baboons, gazelles...and mating lions! The lions were making quite the ruckus throughout the night! They became closer and closer as it became morning, likely only 50 meters away from our tents. Two couples were engaging in their loud mating rituals (which last a week by the way!!) We decided to forgo the morning sunrise and appreciate the sounds in the comforts of our tent that morning (not like we were scared or anything!)
Other nights of camping included a dense forest with a secret lookout rock overseeing miles of land and mountains. It was breathtaking! This was followed by a night in a jungle like atmosphere - very tarzan and jane-esque. We slept on a platform 50 feet high so that elephants could roam freely below us. Unfortunately, no ellie's graced us with their presence that night. Our final camping night was in the forest near a waterfall. It was so amazing to see water and we took full advantage. We quickly grabbed our suits and jumped in! The diversity of land we've seen in Kenya has been vast. We feel so lucky to have experienced so many aspects of Kenyan life - which would not have been possible without FIMAfrica.
Other fun, miscellaneous events on our trip include:
- A trip to the equator, which is basically a sign just outside of Nanyuki. Here we learned about the Coriolis water effect and took a sick jumping pic!
- A tea party among British colonials. It was an amusing event filled with cake, tea, silver, and some of the most hilarious conversation we've ever experienced. We have been re-creating the moment and brushing up on our British accents ever since! "Surely, it was a brilliant affair" (insert British accent).
- A lunch at trout tree restaurant. It was a tree house for adults - the atmosphere was incredible and we had quite the feast. We also met colobus monkeys there, who we thought were cute but their faces are a hybrid of old man and witch. Oh the creatures we've seen!
- Bathroom adventures. You know us naturopaths, needing to keep regular bowels. This was interesting seeing as we didn't see running water, or toilets in any of the mobiles. Our options were: 'long drops' (a hole of various shapes surrounded by a shack), bush with the paperwork being dropped in the longdrop, or full bush with machete digging to bury the evidence plus TP. Many times (aka ALWAYS) the bush was the best option. We would literally avoid the longdrops and walk large distances to bypass onlookers.
- Shopping. Our bargaining skills are sharp, despite the fact that we are obvious tourists. We are literally hounded when we walk the streets of Nanyuki. Sellers chase us with items to buy and try to lure us into their shops. Once you're in there is no leaving without buying, especially when they tell you their children are starving. We end up spending little money and getting something beautiful in return. For them making any money in a day is worth the sale. We are a little worried we won't be able to carry it back to Canada...
We are back at our home base, the Sumar house, and feeling more pampered than ever! We have the weekend off to sight see a little more in Nairobi and relax. We then head back to Nanyuki for our final week of volunteering on Monday. Let the adventures continue...
Posted by Sarah at 3:16 AM
How do naturopathic modalities help in HIV/AIDS patient care?