Sunday, January 22, 2012
Jambo (hello) and Kwaheri (goodbye) from Kenya!
It was with mixed emotions that we began and ended our final morning of dental clinic Thursday in Maai Mahiu’s IDP (internally displaced people) camps. Even the generator battery rebelled against its assignment – the car battery dying too shortly after! David pulled off some feats of repairman-ship to get us through the morning smoothly, and the team did what they do best for the remaining patients, among them a few Marafiki support people, the local pastor, and our matatu driver. When the time came, it was hard to stop registration, screenings, and begin to turn people away, after 7 days of clinic and over 350 patients seen!
But close shop we did, even as we dismantled and packed up the stations for future service. We sat down in the evening for a last goodbye dinner with the full family of partners, volunteers, and friends of the Ve’ahavta-Marafiki Dental Mission 2012. We remembered -over thank yous, a (tooth!) cake, spoken word and laughter- our landing in Kenya less than 2 weeks ago, arriving with our excitement, our 12+ bags of dental equipment, jetlag, our challenges and our continuing partnership to meet the obstacles of dental outreach on the periphery of the system in the middle of a community displaced.
As we leave for safari and make our way home we say ASANTE SANA!
…To our team of pioneer dental volunteers who have built this mission from the (dirt floors) ground up with their experience, compassion, and hard work.
To our partners for their commitment to the rights of displaced peoples and these joint efforts to bring healthier smiles and larger dignity to those in need.
And to the community who have welcomed us into their homes, their hearts… and in their mouths!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Today’s clinic started on Kenyan time with a few technical challenges- but ultimately overwhelming results. Over the course of the day the team treated a record total of 37 hygiene patients and 29 patients for extraction. Mindy, Tina and Pauline received some of our local dental support aides among their patients- including our beloved technician and his family. The future “Dr. Mark,” 8 years old gloved and masked to practice dental care on our puppets alongside his mentors . “Dr. Mark” was among an increased number of children receiving treatment at the extraction stations with Dr. Ira, Dr. Thileeb, and local Kenyan doctor, Dr. Mike. On the other end of the spectrum, an elderly patient of Dr. Thileeb had her last problem tooth extracted- also her last remaining tooth!
Working next door to Marafiki’s local school has allowed us to get to know the community and spend time with neighbourhood children and their teachers. One of our young friends honoured us today with Kikuyu names, others sang and danced with us, skipped rope, and gathered together around the common water source as the students’ morning meal program progressed.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Hello, how are you?/ Habari yako?/ Wemwege? The team is well here in the land of the Swahili and Kikuyu and other peoples of Kenya. We are still recovering from an active weekend hiking and scaling gorges in Helll’s Gate and an impressive trek up the crater of nearby Mt. Longonot. From the peak of the volcano at 2617m we could see the dry landscape of the Rift Valley and the reflection off the tin roofs of the IDP camps in the distance. The communities of the hundreds of the hundreds of families still living in makeshift tarp homes, we could not.
The return to the clinic was victorious with a total of 54 patients seen Monday, our 4th day of clinic operations. The competition is on now with equal patients treated between the two extraction stations and 3 dental hygiene stations. The team are busy screening, scaling (cleaning), extracting, suturing, counselling, and providing dental health education to the IDP and vicinity communities with the support of Marafiki representatives and a courageous band of local and longterm volunteers for our dental assistance and translation including Community Elder, Mr. Frances. Facilitating my job and that of our Marafiki technician, David also, is the fact that everything is working! Suction. Cavitrons. Autoclave. Check!
Our feedback and rapport with the community and local dental and healthcare workers allows us to better reflect on highlights and lessons learned in the field:
- Two minutes each time.
- No, for how many days?
- For the rest of your life.
Our team education volunteer, Miranda enjoyed her first day of placement at the nearby Maii Mahiu Primary School. Miranda is working together with local teacher Mr. Peter and his small 3rd grade class of 74 students. Miranda is offering lessons in English, organized after-school recreation and looking forward to offering support by introducing drama activities.
Please keep your thoughts with our team and out patients as the day breaks this morning over the mountains into the Rift Valley, Maai Mahiu.