Sunday, December 7, 2008

How did it get to be December?

My last post was on Thanksgiving, the day that we graduated our first class of Nuru Health Representatives!!!!!
 The day before that we graduated ALL the Nuru members for attending Base Education Agriculture Training!!!

I attended my first Nuru Health Representative's training of THEIR Nuru Group on Malaria Causes, Signs/Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment. 

We gave treatment tabs and a needle and thread to each Health Rep to use on the nets of the group members. I saw a completely RIPPED up net - OH MY GOSH! I HAVE GOT to get a supply of nets to this place.

We said goodbye to Jake this week, and now we are all packing and getting ready for our last 3 days in the field, before our Christmas break back in the States. Man, I'm going to miss this place and these amazing people!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving here is obviously a little different...for doesn't exist ;) 

Believe me, we spent time talking about all the people and things we are thankful for, but there's some differences. 
1. You're eating turkey. We're seeing them rummaging around the garbage heap downtown. (pigs too incase you're eating ham, they're here in the garbage too).

2. You're watching (or playing football). We've got no TV, and we're working hard! We've got a couple weeks before we leave for Christmas break, and today was a big day for me! Finished the 3rd and final day of the training for the 1st Nuru Health Reps! 25 graduated today, and cute is an understatement!!!! It was AWESOME!

3. You're eating Sweet Potato casserole with the marshmellows on top. We've never once seen a marshmellow here, but we HAVE seen Sweet Potatoes. And people eating them RAW! Straight up apple style. Jake did say in a moment of unconsciousness while dreaming of SPC, that he could "make" ;)

4. You're having dessert and passing out on the couch. We ate out because we have no gas for the cooker (in 2 towns for 3 days we haven't been able to find any) and we ate chai and andazi (a type of bready donut like thing) for "dessert" and came home to watch an episode of West Wing on our less then overstuff couch with several pounds of dust on it.

5. You're riding in cars and maybe listening to Christmas Carols, and seeing the Macy's day parade. We rode in a car today (to the dispensary to get stitches in Nicole's hand - random stretching accident with a deep cut caused by the iron sheet roof on the choo) and we saw some Christmas decoration... Garland, on the heads and necks of some girls coming down the road in a HUGE celebrating parade - These girls had just been circumcised, as is the tradition here. 

But for all the differences...the commonality is ... I'm thankful! I have incredible things to be thankful for. My incredible relationship with Jesus, my gift of a life fully lived through the knowledge of God's awesome love and grace for me, adoring family and friends who are partnered with me in this journey through prayer that unites us and connects us across the miles, an AWESOME team I live and work with - simply incredible people - the kind that inspire you to live excellence, a friend who seems to get me and so eloquently lay out BIG things in amazing writings - Emerson!, a beautiful life that I wouldn't change ONE thing about, a crazy life here in another country that seems to be such a fulfillment of a deep promise in my heart. I am alive! I am loved! I am God's kid! I am aware that I am blessed beyond belief. It's a good day to be thankful - as is everyday! 

{{If you are interested in using your resources to support Nuru please visit our website We are in need of financial support for our programs. We are seeing the results, and we are so thankful to be here doing this work. Even thankful to "miss" thanksgiving day, as it seems we are living it everyday.}}

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Training day two!

Well after yesterday I was prepared for the chaos....NOT! I stayed up REALLY late trying to compare the list of health reps I had with the list of 51 Nuru Groups and the specified health rep - did they attend my training, did they attend the Base Education Agriculture training, is their name spelled right, are they even in the same Nuru group on both lists, what is their individual number that I need to write on their training graduation certificate...this took ENTIRELY too long. But had to be done...I'm sure there's a better way to do it than to hand write each group out, but at 1am I really couldn't figure out what it was. (Today I created a spreadsheet, and that was even before Nescafe and a shower). 

Random interjection: Why do I get random calls at 9:30 pm two nights in a row? Jake just had to rescue me from the phantom caller. People here are relentless. If you don't answer they CALL BACK! a lot!

This morning this is just a small number of chaotic things...the list I hand wrote turned out not to be the info Jake could use, so I redid it (I was committed - wanted it done before he left at 8:30 for a meeting). I finally sit down to eat something at 9:30, and right at that time Philip who is leaving has to talk to me about something. I finish and put a kettle of water on the stove to boil for a "shower" and the gas goes out. Philip is going to the town where you can get gas so I try to really fast, take the fitting off the gas tank so he can take it with him, explaining to him he'll now need to take a taxi instead of boda boda.  As I'm working, Philip and Nicole are discussing something, Eunice is in our house filling out graduation certificates, someone is outside yelling for us to greet them, and I notice that perhaps the reason the gas stopped flowing was bc the tube had a HUGE gash in it. So, I'm trying to find and attach our new hose (I'm still in my PJs) and test the gas tank to make sure it's not out of gas. All before Philip leaves. People are asking what I'm doing...I'm trying to do it quickly...I have to boil water to pour it on the tube to make it go over the fitting (little trick my dad taught me ;) If you need anything plastic to be malleable just get some Hot water on it). Boiling water takes me finding the electric kettle first. 
 ===== OK GOD!!! You've got my attention. Today's gonna be chaos huh?! thought so ======

After some more delays, I finally take a "shower", START thinking about my training, try to call my trainer Nelly (no phone connection), start walking to Isebania to get a Boda Boda, get my handouts and more phone credits at the local printers - realize I don't have enough money to PAY them!!!! ask for an IOU, get on Boda Boda and go to Nyametaburo. 

I work from my "office" for a while...the grass outside of the Health Center.

Then Lunch at the local hotel (hotel = food joint, no sleeping option) and Nicole is there, and Doug and Jake roll in a few mins later. The place is PACKED with people we know, and it's kinda fun to have this moment together. Nic has to pay for me (no funds) and I go to the church for our 2nd day of training.

Nelly and I did a review of the Malaria info from yesterday, and then we taught them how to treat nets. The tabs to do this are free! and we also talked about sewing holes. This is the part of the day I love!!!! (except for not wearing ANY sunscreen and having the REDDEST nose I've ever had) The are so engaged. They are participating. They are all standing really close. They're awesome. I pray they love being a part of the change for their community. 

After this we're back in the classroom to talk about the 2nd most common cause of morbidity here...Respiratory Tract Infections. Made em roll their backs and pull up their knees while sitting to try and breath as deep as they just had when I had them sit up straight. Nelly told me after the training that they did not know a lot of what was taught, and they were amazed to learn about it. They didn't know about Mucous, about the components of the respiratory system, about the presence of infection if the mucous is yellow or green, about the dangers of smoke and dust to breathing. 

I love teaching, even being witness to teaching - Nelly ROCKED IT! and is wonderful is so many ways. We had some people show up today that didn't yesterday - they have to make it up. And tomorrow they will graduate as a certificate carrying member of Nuru, and Thursday they will graduate as the first group of Nuru Health Representatives! In-freaking-credible! 

This is me saying "how many holes does your net have to have for a mosquito to get it? One! It only takes one." Nelly is holding up the needle and yarn (no thread) for a volunteer to show how to sew holes. 

All the chaos of the day can not take any of the joy of doing what I feel most alive doing! It's so amazing to live fully alive! 

Monday, November 24, 2008

What was I thinking....

Did I actually think that it would take less than 2 hours to make 80 copies for my training today? 
Did I actually think a note on the school's wall and door (to tell them to go to the church) would be ABLE to be read by half the people attending the training?
Did I actually think that Nelly would be able to stop injecting babies and seeing patients to go and train 37 Nuru Health Representatives?

The answer is....well, I was hoping! But somehow in the back of my mind I expected a little chaos. Ok, a lot of chaos. 

Today I started Nuru Health Representatives training; Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of this week from 2pm to 5pm in a church down the dirt road from Nyametaburo Health Center. The topics are Malaria and Respiratory Tract Infections (2 of the BIGGEST causes of morbidity in Nyametaburo Sub-Location). Thursday will be general health info, and logistics about how THEY will train. 

See the Nuru Health Reps are selected for each Nuru group to go and learn, and then come back to the group and teach. Also, to represent the concerns and ideas of their group. Really, we're doing this! THIS is the work that for YEARS I have wanted to do. Train the trainers, empower, teach, etc. I'm stoked. But I have to be honest....Satan was being a total turd today, and was trying desperately to steal my joy and give me anger and lack of trust. And why wouldn't he? I've been sent on a journey - to do work for God. To love the poor. To help the people in Kuria, Kenya. And why would Satan want God's love lived out like this? Not that I'm anything - I'm not. But God in me...Well that's a force to be reckoned with. And to be honest, I SAW his power show up today. 

For real?! a) 2 hours at the printers when I was supposed to be planning with Nelly, b) trying to go to lunch before our "uninterrupted" planning time, and there being no food, c) sitting in a room to talk and locking the door and having a family member come to the window 3 times and a breast feeding daughter brought in, 4) getting to the changed venue and there being NO one in sight to unlock the door. Really?! You'd think there was a lack of planning...there wasn't. It was planned. This just all "came up." Sneaky, really sneaky. But I wasn't gonna let the anger, that so desperately wanted to take over,  get the best of me. I called Doug to pray with me on the phone. 

I CLAIMED a verse that was written in a card months ago, and sent we me before I left, for me to open on THIS day - from my friend Paul - "In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the spirit, because the spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God." Romans 8:26-27  -- Man I was weak! and I had NO idea what to pray. So I asked for the spirit to intercede on my behalf. I prayed everything I could think of, mainly asking God to take it. It's for his glory anyway, not mine. And I trust him that he LOVES the heck out of these people and wants to see them healthier. 

Not to be "verse happy" but there's another spectacular verse that I claimed for myself and my heart today - all that means is that I Trusted that it is truth and I asked in faith to receive it's promise- Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  

No lie! That is exactly what happened! God's peace washed over me! In a chaotic moment, prayer WORKED! I knew it did, I'm thankful I have a job and a life where I have to rely on God and on my team to get thru it. THAT'S what's important, not the result, but the process. Not the destination, but the journey. How did you fight? What happened when you got slammed to the ground? Who did you run to? 

My training, was not mine. It was incredible, and I'm not that good. I serve a Big God who is though! Nelly knocked it out of the park - and how, I don't know. She's a mom of 3, an aunt who has welcomed her niece to live with her, a wife to Bonaface (sweet name huh), and a nurse who has been the ONLY person to work at the Nyametaburo Health Center for the last 8 days - the 8 days before training, she lives on less than 3000 Ksh a month ($40 a month,  $1.33 a day), and 20 minutes AFTER she finished training and was debriefing with me she got called back to the health center to see the 10+ patients that had been waiting since 1:30pm to be seen! She rocked it! And I know it was the spirit inside her, and a God that loves the heck out of his people!

37 people showed up. They had some interesting comments and questions - and I'm PROUD they felt comfortable to ask and share things like: Malaria is caused by eating bad Mangos, and you can treat it with Avacado leaves, and Pneumonia is a type of Malaria. Those are all the random ones, but people also asked - does the insecticide on the net harm people, what should I do if I sleep outside so my cattle won't get stolen, can you pass immunity to someone else, are injections best to treat malaria, and more. 

Tomorrow I will have them teach me at the beginning of class as a review. We will treat a net, teach about Respiratory Tract Infections (RTI), and again, rely on God to show up! I love my job!!!

Pictures: I took these while 5 groups of 7 discussed: types and signs/symptoms of Malaria, causes, treatment, prevention for Pregnant mothers, and prevention for everyone. Yes, that tambourine is our paperweight. And Nelly is in the yellow with the group of mostly women in the 2nd pic. Nelly = rock star!

Random truths: I am coming to you from a dirt floored kerosene lit room (how do we have internet) and I have had LITERAL ants in my pants 2 days in a row. That is all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What a life...

So I'm sitting in our house on Friday morning at 10am waiting for everyone to be ready to leave and go to Kisumu. I know nothing about Kisumu except it's supposed to have movies and good coffee. I'm very excited! ;) 

I'm in the midst of a great life. I am living the dream that was somehow sealed in my heart. Last night I stood under the amazing stars and just offered up thanks and prayers to a God I trust with my life! And I just stood in wonder at how vast he is - the sky is always a great point of focus for me when I pray. It is a physical resemblance for me of how God is Omnipresent! The sky is EVERYWHERE at the same time. Pretty incredible. And last night, was the actual first time that I thought that stars look like diamonds. They twinkle so much here. It's incredible. 

I'm listening to a beautiful song called "From the Inside Out" - some of the lyrics are - My heart and my soul. I give you control. Consume from the Inside Out Lord. Let justice and Praise become my embrace to love you from the Inside Out. Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades. Neverending your glory goes beyond all fame. And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise.

And to be honest, this didn't strike me until now. But that was the exact cry of my heart yesterday. 

Well, everyone's ready. I'm gonna ride out. More when we return on Sunday. Grace and Peace! J

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I drove a motorcycle today...

I seriously drove a motorcycle today for the first time in my life, wearing flip flops, on a dirt road, with the most wind ever blowing in my face (getting ready to rain), coming home from Nyametaburo Health Center, in Kuria, Kenya!
Peter, is one of our awesome Boda Boda drivers, and today we were talking as we rode back from Nyametaburo and I asked him how much a Boda Boda cost (his was 86,000 Kshs) and he started talking about me learning to drive one, and he would teach me, and it would only take 3 days. He asks me if I can balance on a bike..."yes, I can."

So, then he's stopping the bike and asking me to get off the bike to show me a few things. He shows me the kick start, the brakes, the clutch, gas, gears, etc. Explains it all, and then says, I want you to start it...So...I get on the bike, and try to kick start it. Totally didn't happen the first time, but the second time it started and then....he's getting on the back of the bike and showing me how to change gears, balance, and give GAS!!! We are driving down the road!!!! For real!  OH MY GOSH!!! 

GUYS!!!! I drove a motorcycle for the first time in my life in Kenya?! Who gets to do that?! Awesome, and ya' much fun! So much wind, and I totally kept the bike balanced, and gave gas and let up at the right times....lots of pots holes and bumbs in the was fun! Totally not what I expected to do today....but come to think of it, what day do I ever live where I "expected" what happened to have happened! Hope you're living unexpected and beautiful days! Grace and Peace!!! ~ janine

Saturday, November 1, 2008

6 Random Facts....

So approximately 2 months ago my friend, and amazing blogger, "tagged" me in this opportunity for randomness :) She thought it'd be a great way to start my blog. I think it'll be a great way to describe my last week here in Kenya..... 

RANDOM THINGS! ~ Something Random that doesn't count as one of the 6...I just found out that you can do colors on this thing!!! ;) Get Ready ~ 

1. Last week while I did 4 home visits, asking tons of questions to try and get an understanding of daily struggles, and health issues of families in Nyametaburo, I visited a lady, who 10 years ago was pregnant and had pains and traveled to the doctor to find out what was going on. Well, she left not being able to buy the medicine the doctor recommended. See he wasn't able to give it to her, because the supply given by the government wasn't enough to last him until the next shipment. So, she would have had to buy it at the Chemist (with a jacked up price), so she couldn't. She asks if me and my translator, Eunice, can help her get to a hospital to get an x-ray because she thinks the baby is still in her. 

2. I just got DIVE BOMBED! There are these bugs, we call dive bombers, and my teammate Jake calls them a cross between use his words exactly..."The dive-bomber is an interesting (and by interesting I mean evil) bug/bee/moth thing that is similar to a wasp with a long dragon tail. These things come out at night and circle overhead endlessly... They wait until our guard is down, and then they literally dive headfirst into us" I am SERIOUSLY in the middle of writing this, and the Dive Bomber Got Me! It landed on my desk, for the 4th time! AH! And another one just got me in the head. I am NOT kidding. Well, the one on my desk, landed on my head band, so I threw it on the floor and stomped it. ONE DOWN -- 2 more to go apparently! WHY ARE THEY ONLY DIVE BOMBING ME?! Doug is right here? Another one down...JUST NOW. Ok, so in the last 2 minutes I've called one dive bomber a "jerk" and another one "sucka". OUT of control! Doug is trying to swat down dive bombers.

3. Kenya has the BEST chai! Tea with milk and sugar! It is better than anything! ;) We go to this place to eat that's really inexpensive, quick, and delicious! My favorite "meal" here is Chai and Chipati! Chapati = fried flour, burrito style wrap. So good. But back to the Chai...They have it PIPING hot, in a thermos. All mixed already - Milk (usually 2/3) and Water and sugar! ;) It is SSSSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOO good. I wake up craving kidding. Oh, and for you who are interested in what "inexpensive" means....we eat a lot! Me, Doug, Nicole, and Jake, and the bill is 700 Kshs ($1US = somewhere between 63 and 80 Kshs- depending on the exchange) So...between $8.75 and $11.11. Crazy! Last week we ate at this place -  Bukira West Hotel - 2 nights in a row. One because we ran out of propane for our Gas Cooka (propane stove) and the next night because we had a training in Nyametaburo and were there till late, and knew we'd be hungry and have meetings in the night, so... 2 nights in a row! Oh, another random thing in line with this..."hotel" here means it's a place to eat...not sleep. ;)

4. My team is hilarious! So, maybe this is already known from some of the things I've said, but...Doug, Nicole, and I usually "Choo it up" together each night...and for real, Doug is a gentleman and uses the "alternachoo" as we've named it. No one wants to use it because it's full of "whiskers". Whiskers are these cricket looking things with HUGE whiskers. So, Doug opens the door and makes some hilarious whiskers comment, while Nicole goes to the "good" choo. I literally have almost peed my pants while waiting for her. We laugh so much about the scoot you have to do to correct for the spray. hahahaha. It's pretty hilarious. I'm close to mastering the Pivot. I feel good about this move. If you've ever used the bathroom in a hole in the ground, you know how it is to "master" anything about that experience! Jake continually makes us laugh - at the amount of sugar he eats (Shugs Nuru), the comments like "Has anyone seen my pants" - when he left his pants hanging on the laundry line for a week, and especially when we're watching West Wing. These people have become our friends. And right now we're waiting on our Team Mate Karina to send the 3rd season of WW. Can't wait. Jake misses it every night. Last night he taught us how to play spades...great fun (Nicole and Doug are low bidders), but didn't fill the void. ;)

5. I found CHEESE today! ;) I haven't seen it at ALL since we've been here. None of the Hotels have it. None of the meals have cheese. We were all were missing it...more at the beginning of the trip than now, but still! So, Today we had a grilled cheese! oh my goodness. 1. the cheese itself was not awesome, it's just the fact that it's cheese at all 2. The grilled cheese was GREAT (no pickles in the middle tho pickles here...I did "gourmet" it up tho...added tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano -- good stuff - thought about adding garlic like how we used to do in the YHC days) I found the cheese block in our market stop - "supermarket" - ish. It's great to load up on Ramen (it's more expensive here than in the US), biscuits, and peanut butter! Nicole and I always buy a cold Pineapple juice box to drink when we leave. Migori is the place we go - it's about 20 minutes from Isebania where we live. We also got to a store that sells poster board, notebooks, and staplers. All things we bought today for our work and our trainings. 
6. When brushing my teeth - I always try to hit my first spit line full of the toothpaste, with the 2nd spit line which is mostly water. You know what I mean? We wake up the next day and see our toothpaste marks in our yard. So, I really try to hit the exact same trajectory so I can dilute the toothpaste stain. ;) I get to brush my teeth under beautiful stars. And tonight there is a pretty incredible lightening show. Oh, how bout this for related random - when I was still in the US and praying about coming here, I said, "God, I'm really gonna miss lightening storms." I was thinking it wouldn't storm here, just rain maybe, (I don't know what I was thinking) BUT... We get lightening. Beautiful lightening. Awesome sunsets. We've had some hail stones (hilariously loud on a tin roof). It's incredible weather. Not hot (except for moments during the day while in the house) and it's not cold, even tonight, there's wind - it's cool - but not cold. It's really great environmentally here! ;) Completely nerdy to say, but I love the outdoors, so it means something to me. 

Well, that's that. My weekend post. I got to skype my family: Megan, Brian, and Owen tonight, and tomorrow I'll get Mom, Dad and later Tara and Jamie! ;) Good Stuff. Lovin my life. Thanks for readin along.

OH, and the Tag thing...Hmmm... 6 people. Well...
Here are the tagging rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag
1. My team mate - Nicole - she would do well to have a topic for a post - she usually would post if she could think of anything to write about ;) JK. She posts all the time! Just wanna see your random + ness.
2. Tara! ;) hahaha. Tagged you back - give me more random. I love it and miss it about you so much!
3. Jake - this is a test. I don't think you read my blog! hahaha
4. Billy - you always comment - give me 6 random comments. ;)
5. Riley - I don't know much about you and you follow my blog - Hi! Tell me random stuff.
6. Tiffany Newcomb! - I know you're on the road. You've gotta have some hilarious stuff to tell me. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This week...

This week has been a definite learning experience...

Do you know why organizations don't do surveys, don't do measurement and evaluation??BECAUSE IT TAKES SO MUCH TIME! and it's SOOOO difficult to get the Right message across. 

This week we developed a survey, we had questions about the general demographic of the families, health, water, sanitation, and agriculture. We created this 4 page survey, that even in English had some confusing bits, and then we trained our Community Development Committee. 

We trained them how to give the survey, what to be careful of, what questions would be confusing - how to ask them in a couple ways to get to the right answer, etc. And then, today they CDC was to train the Chairmen of each of the Nuru Groups. Well...I must say that throughout the entire time, I was thinking -- oh my gosh, this is ridiculous. 

Now, let me explain - it's not ridiculous to ask people to learn, it's not ridiculous to ask people to record information, but in my mind - I thought...this questionnaire is ridiculous. It is MUCH too confusing - I'll talk about my part - I should have just asked one question about HIV, and if the person's family had a case then I could follow up. AND the survey is in English - So many of the people in this room today don't read English. And why should they...they speak Kiswahili! And I just imagined...what if someone came into a room where I was and told me I'd have to give a survey to 10 people written in a language I don't speak. Oh man. I was feeling so bad about it. 

We'll see what happens - I know they'll try. If nothing else, I know that I am thinking of ways to improve the survey. 

The rest of the week, I'll blog about this weekend - did four home visits - where one lady thinks she has retained a pregnancy in her body for 10 yrs, another lady asked me to take a pic of her and then started breastfeeding her daughter for the pic, and visited 2 health facilities - it's always normal to see mosquito nets hanging over the beds right? Anyway...more to come - Soon! ;) 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm drinking a Coke, and she's getting an HIV test...

Ok guys, this for real happened today! This is how it went down...

Today, I roll up to Nyamaharanya Dispensary crammed on a beat up Boda Boda (motorcycle) with the driver, me, and Eunice (my translator friend). I pray every time we are climbing a hill that the bike won't tip over. This is after a crazy fiasco of being stopped by a piece of twine! crossing the road in order to make people give money - it's some local gov't thing. 

I went to this facility to see if people from Nyametaburu are going there for services (turns out not so much), and what they are able to provide. The Nurse in charge (3 yrs training) is a very nice man named Jarvis, and a lady named Susan is an assistant Nurse (2 yrs training). Jarvis is a gov't employee, Susan is a volunteer. They have been open since August 2nd and have seen - 658 patients!!!!! 

They were gracious and answered many questions I had about the facility and the patients, Walked us all around so I could see the set up, and then they went and bought Eunice and I each a coke. Sooo kind. I called the Boda Boda to come get us, and I asked if I could sit in while he saw patients, who just WAITED until I was done asking all my questions. Incredible. Oh, P.S. when they walked us into a room there was a lady getting some IV fluid.
But the IV hanger was a Nail holding up the twine and material that equals a window curtain here, and the "bag" looks like a cleaned out plastic liter bottle. NOT KIDDING! 

And the situation in the examination room...there is ONE table given by the school (Holding EVERYTHING - the zillion record books they have to keep by hand, the couple surgical instruments they have, the vitamins, etc.)  Chairs (one chair, and 2 low stools with no backs) were given by the community, and one examination table is borrowed from another health facility. The community has done so much to supply this facility. They go fetch water every day for the dispensary's use. A volunteer stays to cook for patients. REALLY - the support is incredible, and the resources are sosososo few!

So, this is how it happened - I'm doing what I normally do, sitting there, listening to complete Kiswahili trying to take notice of things I can understand - like privacy practices, doctor care, patient response, etc. And I'm drinking my coke, taking notes, and all of a sudden the Nurse says..."She has agreed to have an HIV test." At that moment ------- what do I do? I'm honestly sitting there thinking "I am drinking a coke, and this lady's life could change as a result of this test. I'm DRINKING A COKE and she's GETTING AN HIV TEST!!!!!!!!" 

Some thoughts racing in my mind: I've never seen an HIV test be performed; I don't know how long it takes to get the result; will my boda boda arrive before the result; will I ask to stay; what would I do if it's positive; would I pray with her; is she scared; will she tell her husband; should I keep drinking my coke....

From what I had found out earlier, this facility doesn't have ARTs except for pregnant mothers, they'd have to refer her. Would she go? Would she act like it was 5 minutes before and she didn't know she had HIV? 

I hear the "Doctori" say "It will take 15 minutes to get the result." So, I'm hoping I'll be there for the result. He keeps talking to her, I'm still drinking my coke, and then he says...It is negative. 


Guys...its incredible what's happening.  People are sitting in barely functioning health facilities that are testing and treating people for life threatening diseases, and half the world is sitting there drinking a Coke! It is a BIG endeavor - equality! allocation of resources! justice! care! LOVE! I love the people who see this and check themselves. I love the ones who can't, and pray that one day they will. We're all at a different stage of life, but where you are right now -- can you DO something? I'd venture to guess you could; FIND something you want to be a part of! Something bigger than yourself. Just give yourself to it for a season, and just SEE what happens! 

** Please check out my team mates blogs - they're better writers than me, and we all talk about different events **

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How I'm doin...

It is pouring down rain right now! I can not even hear my teammates when I’m right in their face! We have a metal roof, and it’s a completely different experience when it rains.

I’m trying to think of the right update to give…when I talk to friends I always ask for updates in these areas : How are YOU doing, How is your job, How is your romantic relationship (or lack of one) doing, How are your family&friends, How is their relationship with God. So, that’s the form this update will take:

I am doing Ok. I was getting sick yesterday, really run down, but also runny nose, feeling hot, abdominal pains, little cough, and also I was frustrated. See, we’ve been here for over two weeks now (in Kuria District) and I was frustrated with the fact that I get the comments: “MZUNGU!!!!, Buy me sweet, How are you?, I’m fine, Buy me football shoes, give me 10 bop, give me your shirt, Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu!” Ok, now it’s not ALL the time, it’s not EVERY person, but it gets wearing – especially when they are yelling to you as you enter and exit the CHOO. I know that I am privileged, beyond belief, to come from America. It does mean that I have money – not in the sense that I actually have enough to buy and give everything that’s asked for, but I know I have been given this opportunity. See…we’re trying to break the cycle of dependency. We don’t want to be looked at as having all the answers or all the things or all the money. We want to empower! Break the stigma that the people suffering from poverty don’t have a role to play. It’s a HARD thing tho. And yesterday, I was really fed up with being yelled at. I must say, that my night totally changed when I chatted online with a friend and she gave me WONDERFUL news tho! She’s pregnant!!!! That really changed my mood!

My job – well, I am in the midst of collecting a lot of information about disease prevalence and infrastructure needs. I am thrilled to be doing it; I currently am trying to collect baseline data for a long set of metrics that will give us the, well, baseline from which to measure our program’s impact here in Nyametaburu. I usually meet with a lady name Irene, who is a pregnant mom, market owner, farmer, and involved community member. She and her son are pictured above as they walked me to their tobacco shamba. Or I observe at the health center in Nyametaburu. Nellie is the nurse aid there, and is awesome about teaching me and answering zillions of questions. All 4 of us have split up jobs around the house, mine are to do dishes, and shop with Nicole for the food we eat. The market is a story in an of itself! And washing dishes is surely funny during storms when the lights are out, and when we use only cool water and plastic basins to wash and rinse in. It’s always a laugh.

Romantic relationship – for me right now it’s the lack of one, and to be honest, I’m happy about that. (for those of you who know me, how hilarious is that statement?!) Anyway, I am blessed to be single. I know it’s for a purpose, and although I long to share my life with someone that I am in love with, right now, I’m so content. I get to enjoy witnessing an incredible Godly marriage between my two team mates – Nicole and Doug. It makes me stick to my commitment not to settle, and stick to the truth that God has a plan and a purpose for my life. Nicole and Doug are a wonderful couple, and really share the love they have for one another with anyone and everyone around them. They strive not to just let their love be between themselves, and it’s NOT! I feel it every day, and I am so blessed by it.

My family and friends – I imagine are great. I have limited contact with them, but skype my parents every Sunday, and email or on-line chat some other friends. One chat I had last night was encouraging, one friend of mine in Morgantown is truly pursuing God with all she’s got - I know others are too, but I chatted this one recently. ;) And she talked about having to make the choice of being liked by man or being obedient to God. Guess which one she chose? ;) I’m thankful to have friends in my life who are striving to live as Jesus did. It is a joy to share this journey with them – joys and pains…all of it, cause it’s all mixed together you know.

My relationship with God – well, he’s my everything! My comfort, my protector, my great love, my best friend, my shield, my joy, he’s everything to me. I am in the midst of the dream he gave me and developed for years! I am loving reading the encouraging scriptures my friend Mary collected from my Motown friends and wrote in cards for me to read on specific days while I’m here. I am fulfilled by the incredible love of God, and truly look to him daily for the strength, support, and wisdom I need for the work I was called here to do.

That me in a nutshell! ;) I’m feeling much better by the way, the sickness stuff passed, and tomorrow I am meeting with Jake to talk about my personal work plan, my team to brainstorm some things, and Joash Dudi, the Public Health Officer and employee of the Kenyan Ministry of Health. This is my life… Grace and Peace to you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Today was a big day....

I have an undeniable story in the title of this email, but today was a big day! So I'll have to explain that later. Today was the biggest meeting YET for Nuru in Nyametaburu!

See, I'm doing - well what I explained in the title box of this blog - and doing it with a non-profit called Nuru International! I'm a part of the first foundation team, and that rocks my life! For a long time - as in YEARS - I've been trying to figure out "what will I be doing? how can all my passions come together? how can I live my job as a life of service?, etc." More about THAT whole thing in another blog too, but basically - it resulted in this. So ... back to today! 

I worked from our dirt floor living room/office/kitchen/dining room/entertainment center ;) area this am for several hours. Pouring over the questions I have to find out about the community. A lot having to do with specifics about their infrastructure relative to healthcare, but also questions relating to the cultural aspects of health and education to address prevention of disease. 

Nicole (one of my awesome team mates) and I left at 10am to walk to get a Boda Boda (motorcycle) to drive us down the long, windy, hilly, dusty road to Nyametaburu community. We live in Isebania, which is maybe 5-7 km from Nyametaburu. Nicole and I walk about 30 minutes talking about our ideas for the day - what we hope to achieve, observe, etc. We get to the road to Nyametaburu, and the slew of Boda Bodas waiting for business, and ask one driver how much will he charge? He says 200 shillings per person, but this is NOT our first Boda Boda ride, so we KNOW they usually charge 150 shillings. We tell him so, and he agrees to take Nicole and I both for 300 shillings. Sowa Sowa (ok). 

It's a fun ride. INCREDIBLY beautiful! Nicole and I and our back packs are on one Boda Boda going down this road. And we arrive to Nyametaburu. I'm off to the dispensary to shadow Nellie, and Nicole is off to Eunice's house to observe and ask many questions about water and sanitation. 

My entire day from 11 - 3pm is spent in a chair next to Nellie behind her desk as she sees and treats MANY patients. I saw mothers bringing babies for vaccinations; mothers coming in for their first anti-natal exam; men and women with respiratory track infections, malaria, pains from past surgeries; children with malaria; a boy with an infected wound that had to be drained; and more. Nellie had people in her office NON-STOP! and she was pleasant to all of them. We left only for 10-15 minutes Tops to go get chai and chipatis. 

MANY things are different from what I'm used to - 
  1. Privacy - for one, I was in the room - a Mzungu just there next to the nurse. Not that I understand what they are saying, bc they are speaking Kiswahili, but still. And they were fine with me being there. Also, other patients will just stroll right in to the office while the nurse is assisting someone else. The nurses 3 girls came in a couple times, sitting and waiting, bringing the baby girl to be breast-fed by Nellie - the Nurse on duty - and she breast-fed while she continued to work. Incredible dedication, and keep in mind it's just more culturally accepted. Not strange at all. 
  2. Assistance - it was just Nellie. All day! Just her! She did everything - intake, examination, record keeping, payments/receipts, pharmaceuticals, injections, education, scheduling.
  3. Availability - 1 woman mentioned she sleeps under a net, but it's not been treated with pesticides. The tablets to treat nets are in Isebania town. Not available at the dispensary or in the community there. 2 women were sent away to go buy notebooks before Nellie would see them. The notebooks (envision 20 pieces of paper folded with a slightly thicker piece of paper around it and stapled) are then torn in half to create 2 smaller notebooks. The people are responsible for their own records. Oh...
  4. Record keeping - all hand written. Nellie had a problem getting a pen that worked - I just gave her mine. The people keep their own records. The nurse or whoever sees them writes the explanation of their symptoms, the impression (what the nurse thinks they have) and the treatment. Mothers have a yellow booklet which is filled out prior to giving birth with their health info (during pregnancy) and then the babies info after birth. (Oh, every child I saw today was born at home - most likely with a Traditional Birth Attendant.) And Nellie keeps data on pregnant mothers and children in big notebooks given by the Ministry of Health.
 Nellie was gracious, explaining many things to me, and asking questions that I was interested in regarding patients - but I couldn't help but feel a little worthless. I'm taking notes, and she's treating a zillion patients. Wow!

I did observe some things that might lend to possible solutions or "points of intervention" as I'd like to call them. One being - the people wait to be seen for so long - one man was there when I arrived a little before 11am, and he didn't get seen until 1:15pm. I really think that there could be some education going on right there for people to learn about disease prevention, identification, treatment, etc.

At 3pm I walked out of the clinic to meet up with Nicole and Jake (affectionately called "Jake Nuru" as he is the CEO of Nuru and Co-founder - another awesome teammate). This meeting was the first of it's kind. We've been meeting with community leaders, elders, ministry directors, chief/sub-chiefs/assistant chiefs, and church leaders over the past 2 weeks. We've been explaining the vision of Nuru ( and explaining the plan to help their community by them partnering with us. We asked in ALL of those meetings - "invite people to come Wednesday at 3pm to learn more." That was today - and about 130 people showed up!!!! about 45 women, and 85 men. 

Jake did AWESOME! We had the counselor of the community translating for us, and he is an animated and serious motivator. The Chief was present, as was our great rafiki (friend) and Community Development Committee Chairman - Philip! It was a great meeting. Many good questions about the plan for training, farm inputs, loans, group formation, etc. The people are so excited we are there. They buy into the partnership model, knowing that this is not a hand out, that they have to work to be involved in the program, and they are willing. -- Granted, now everyone thinks I'm a doctor - which I'm not - but that'll be sorted out somehow ;) -- They want their lives to change. :) For many of them (especially the kids) this is the first time in their lives they have ever seen Mzungus (translated as Europeans - but it means white person). But they are very thankful we are here. They invite us to come to their homes, to come "greet them", to eat with them, etc. They are lovely people. And so far, we have everyone's support that we have met. ;) God is so good!!!

We are only just beginning, but today was a big day! 140 people!!!! That's big...

More to come. ;) Thanks for reading!