Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Polio Vaccination

I can’t believe it is our 5th day here already.  We asked mama Pamela if she could call a motorcycle/ boda boda  for us because we needed to get to a school called Osari Primary school which was approximately 1.5 hours walk away.  We got on the motorbike around 8:40 and headed over.  We were supposed to meet Carren, who is a CHW in that area but we didn’t see her when we arrived.  The teachers welcomed us warmly and we talked shortly about what the children are learning and then one of the teachers introduced us to the principal/ headmaster.  We told the principal about what we were planning to do at the schools and talked very briefly and then he helped us call Carren to figure out where she was.  There was a change of plan and she was at a different school called Lisuka.  The principal said it was 1.5 km away which didn't sound too far, and he said it was totally walk-able, so we started walking.  Even after 30 minutes, the school was nowhere to be seen. Carren called us a couple of times, and she said she will send a motorbike on our way.  We got on a motorbike and went for about 5 minutes and arrived at Lisuka primary school.  He charged us 50 shlilings which was a bit too much for the distance he took us, but since I didn’t have anything smaller, so I just paid him. 

These tree leaves are used to make ropes!! 

Walking towards Lisuka

what's happening

Polio vaccination is given to children under the age of 5.  Two drops are given to each child, and the campaign runs every month.  Polio is almost eradicated in Kenya.  One of the CHW said the last case was quite awhile ago (I can't remember exactly how many years) due to the polio vaccination campaign.  Beryl, who is a nurse/ vaccinator also came with us as part of her job.  We met other members later on.  Helida, and Lilian who is also a CHW; Paul, another nurse and Celvin who is a public health officer.  I got to talk with Celvin about the health system in Kenya for a bit and he said health care system is divided into national, provincial, municipal, and there are health centres and dispensary which is available in smaller, rural areas.  He has been trying to form an ambulance service for pregnant woman who live far away, but I can see this being very difficult due to money.  I also asked him about HIV/ AIDS. It seems like it is definitely a problem in the area due to lack of awareness.  He said many woman actually get abortion because they don’t take the precaution (i.e. using condoms, bcp) which can lead to STI, and or HIV.  Celvin said his main project is called ASK (access, service and knowledge) and he talked a bit about it.  He said they are having an event this Friday and asked if we wanted to come.  Unfortunately, I had to refuse because Rashma and I are representing GIVE in the community and we didn't want to put the organization (GIVE) in any sort of predicament.

Kevin giving polio vaccionation 

We divided into two teams and went into the households which were away from the main roads.  We had to go on a long walk through maize fields, goats, and ditches.  Through this journey, Helida and Paul showed me avocado, mango, papaya, durian, guava, white… (can’t remember the name), orange trees which I have never seen before.  I was extremely shocked at every single tree. I guess this is what happens when you don't really know where your food comes from. They laughed at my amazement.  I also got to see the troubles within the community, such as 5 months pregnant woman, not going to the clinic to get check-ups and kwashiorkor in young children caused by protein malnutrition.  I also saw an old man with arthritis and diabetes.  They live quite far away from the health centre so I wondered how they would reach it.  Accessibility in rural areas also seem to be a big problem in Kenya  We also got to ask the CHWs how things were for them, but we didn’t get much information from them due to the language barrier and maybe because they don’t really know us very well.
 Papaya tree

 custard apple.  I didn't get to try these till Tanzania.. and I absolutely love them.  


Rashma at Carren's house

After walking for about 5 hours, we sat down at a hotel (aka cafĂ©) and drank soda.  Rashma was going to get one for herself but she felt bad for just getting one for herself so she got one for everyone.  When I arrived later, everyone had a soda so I decided to buy one for my party.  I hope this doesn’t happen too often just because we don't want to set a precedent for the future.  Later on, I called mama Pamela so a motorbike could come and pick us up.  Carren went outside with me and while we were there, I asked how she was returning to Ober Kamoth.    She said she had to walk for about 2 hours and then she asked me if I could give her some money for the boda ride… dun dun dun.  I felt extremely bad but I had to say “Sorry Carren, I can’t. I don’t have money. Also, if I give you money, it’s not fair to other people.” 

 Celvin and Carren

Carren and I 

I hope there is another way to help the Community Health Workers.  They don’t get compensated for their work and they are purely volunteers and they do a lot of hard work for the benefit of the community… some brainstorming is definitely needed.  

Just utterly beautiful 


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