Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Research Project

Colleen Walton is currently in Kenya. She is conducting research to determine associations between years of membership at Wakulima Dairy, with veterinary and other FHF interventions, on the quality of life and diet of the community members.

The research has been endorsed by the Wakulima Board and Farmers Helping Farmers Board. Dr. John VanLeeuwen is the thesis supervisor. Funding support for the research is from the World Veterinary Congress, Veterinarians without Borders, and the Canadian Home Economics Foundation. Colleen has also received a "Graduate Student Scholarship" from the Atlantic Veterinary College.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kenya- From a student nurse's perspective


My name is Rianne Carragher, and I am a fourth year nursing student from UPEI, currently doing a summer internship in a small town called Kiirua, located in Kenya, Africa. There are four interns completing this placement, and are all from the same nursing class at UPEI. We arrived in Kenya on June 28th, and are flying out of Nairobi on September 11th.

The experience so far has been phenomenal, and we have learned so much about nursing with limited resources and technology. We are doing our placement at St. Theresa’s Mission Hospital, and staying at a compound on the hospital’s grounds. The people here are so welcoming, and continue to make an effort to make us feel at home and comfortable each day.

It is amazing to see the role of a nurse in a country half way across the world from Canada, and even more amazing, is the similarities they possess. Nursing in Kenya is focused primarily on effective communication, caring, empathizing, being genuine, being competent in your skills- all the same qualities that one must have while nursing in Canada.

We are working five-day weeks, and rotating throughout different areas of the hospital. Mondays through Wednesdays, we are right on the hospital grounds, and working on a maternity ward, medical surgical ward, or in a maternal clinic, and when the opportunity arises, we attend surgeries. Thursdays, we all head out on HIV/AIDS outreach with a Registered Nurse from the hospital, as well as a client here that is HIV positive. During these Thursdays, we go to different communities- some areas with a lot of poverty- and go door to door and educate families about HIV/AIDS. We talk about how it is transmitted, treatment options, and medical expenses. Many times it is difficult for us to communicate with the residents, as they mostly speak Ki Swahili, or another mother tongue, but being there to witness the education between the nurse, client, and residents is amazing as it is. It is unbelievable how little people know about the disease- especially when many of them are potentially HIV positive, and how prevalent the illness is in this country. Fridays we finish off by going to a Children’s Home with an attendance of over 80 children ranging from ages 0-5. After 5 years old, they are sent back into the community with the hopes that they will find someone to live with or take care of them. We mostly work with the infants, and help to bathe, feed, and play with them- the home is under-staffed, and although playing with them is no chore for us, it is a big help to the staff, so that they can have a small break for the day.

Kim Critchley, the dean of nursing at UPEI, and Kevin Teather, a biology professor at UPEI, flew into Nairobi with us at the beginning of our journey. We all had a lot of fun together and were able to do some touring of Kenya, getting the chance to see many different animals, towns, and people.

Teresa Mellish, from Farmers Helping Farmers, was our next visitor, and with her, we had the opportunity to visit Ruuju Women’s Group, and put on a Blood Pressure Clinic for the Women.

John van Leeuwen, a veterinarian, who also works with Farmers Helping Farmers, came shortly after Teresa, and came to the Children’s Home with us. He educated some of their staff on how to improve the quality of life for their animals, therefore benefiting the Home with more milk and food for the children.

Next week, we will be meeting with a few other Islanders who work with FHF, Colleen Walton and Lisa Wolff, to assist them with the Wakulima project, in a town called Nakuru- we are looking forward to this as well!

We are so fortunate to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and none of this would have been possible without the support from many islanders and organizations, including all the people who have come to stay with us in Kenya, many Kenyan residents-Shaad Olingo, Henry Macharia, Jennifer Murogocho, the Sisters from St. Theresa’s- Sportsmen’s Safaris and Tours Ltd., the staff at St. Theresa’s Mission Hospital, the University of Prince Edward Island, Farmers Helping Farmers, and CIDA.

Thank you for your support, thoughts, and prayers from home!
~Rianne Carragher

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Water tanks

by Teresa Mellish

The funds raised by the 2008 Women Making Waves campaign were used to install a water tank at the home of each of the 62 members of the Ruuju Womens Group.
When I visted these homes two weeks ago, the women all had a little water in the bottom of their tanks- which they harvested from the last rain in May. They say they use it very frugally- it is used only for drinking and cooking since it is clean.

We still need to raise $200 per tank for 26 of the women.

Mosquito nets, soccer balls and shirts

by Teresa Mellish

During my recent visit to Kenya, I visited several schools to distribute gifts from generous Islanders. The schools we visit are all schools which are twinned with Island schools.

At the Matuto Primary school,I distributed 43 mosquito nets purchased with funds raised by the Park Royal United Church Sunday School. I also gave them 2 sets of soccer shirts and soccer balls.

At the Gathukimundu Primary School, the older boys immediately tried on the soccer shirts and posed for a photograph.


Maize crop at the Ruuju Primary School

Despite the rest of Kenya being very dry, the members of the Ruuju Womens Group harvested a crop of maize and beans in the last short rains.

The Ruuju Primary School has 8 acres of land attached to the school on which they grow maize and beans for the school lunch program to supplement the maize and beans provided by the parents. They too harvested a crop of maize and beans. The maize harvest is shown in the photograph. They said they had harvested enough beans to last until 2010.

Their vegetable garden is also doing well.

Drip irrigation

by Teresa Mellish

As we drove through Kenya and visited farms, we realized how dry Kenya is. The daily Kenyan newspapers tell us that some parts of Kenya are on relief food rations because it was so dry that there was no crop harvested in the last rains.

I visited two farms owned by the Muchui Group members- and they, too, had a crop failure in the short rains. Although these women have drip irrigation in their kitchen gardens, one woman was not using it because she could not afford to purchase water from the water line which is connected to her home. A tank of 4600 litres of water costs $4 and would last her for a month, including for drip irrigation for her kitchen garden. She would not sell any of the maize she had harvested from the long rains so that she could buy water to grow vegetables in her kitchen garden.

The second home we visited was Elizabeth Kirema's home and she was using water to irrgate her kitchen garden. She had onions ready to havest and many tomato plants. However the field below her garden was so dry looking- and when we visited her in January she had a great crop of maize growing in it.

When we met with the Muchui Womens Group Project Management Committee we reviewed how many women could not afford to buy water for their kitchen gardens and discovered that 36 of the 63 women could not afford it. It was agreed that their tanks would be filled every week for the next 10 weeks- until mid October when the long rains should start- and they would be supplied with kale, tomato and onion seedlings.

Bio gas cooks food for farm families

by Teresa Mellish

Last week Shaad Olingo and I visited four of the farm families who now have bio gas to cook meals for their families. They get this bio gas from pouring two buckets of cow manure into a black plastic tube each day- which causes the formation of methanae which is piped into the house and burns when ignited. In this photo Christine Ngundu is cooking on the burner using methane gas. She said she cooks breakfast faster and does not have to inhale smoke from the wood fire she used to use for cooking. This was funded by the Stratford Rotary Club and the Canadian International Development Agency

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hillsborough Rotary Club builds dining hall at Ruuju School

The Hillsborough Rotary Club supported the construction of a dining hall for the 500 primary students who attend the Ruuju Primary School. This means that the students will have a place to eat their lunch out of the sun and the rain (during rainy season).Please add that the building will be used by the Ruuju Womens Group for training and their meetings. Also it will be used for community events.

Blood pressure clinic

The nurses carried out a blood pressure clinic for the members of both the Muchui Womens Group and the Ruuju Womens Group. They gave each woman her blood pressure readings on an index card. Then they explained the meaning of blood pressure readings and told them how to interpret them. They also offered suggestions on how to lower their readings- such as reducing their intake of salt. The women were very grateful and gave each of the girls a Kenyan cloth to wear

Marley, Rianne and Cherly share photos with children at soccer game

Playing soccer

Ashley Caulier is on the UPEI soccer team and she joined the high school boys for a game at the Kiirua Boys Secondary School. While Ashley was playing soccer, Marley, Rianne and Cheryl shows the photos they had just taken to some children