Monday, June 28, 2010

We're here!!

Jambo! (Hello)

I am Jillian. I am one of the 4 nursing students from UPEI. We arrived last evening at St. Theresa's Mission Hospital in Kiirua, Kenya. We had been in Nairobi for two nights at the beautiful Fairview Hotel- the same one that the nutrition students stayed at last week. Gorgeous! Saturday morning, we got up bright and early, and with our driver, Driver David, we went to Nairobi National Park. Pretty amazing. We saw a ton of animals: giraffes, jackals, warthogs, zebras (in the distance), a buffalo (from behind), and these beautiful cranes. They were HUGE. Our talented driver, David, spotted a lion in a patch of lion-colored grass. We saw him flick his tail a few times- the lion, not David. After the park, we went to the Kazuri bead factory. Over 300 women are employed there. They are mostly single mothers who otherwise would not have a job. The women and their families receive free healthcare. An amazing spot. And beautiful work…. We spent a lot of time picking out jewelry to take home. After that, David took us on a long drive through the city, back to the hotel. Lots of traffic, lots of sights, sounds and smells. I was experiencing a bit of sensory overload. I still am. The plantlife is incredible. A few of us were talking about how at home, we struggle to grow these beautiful plants and flowers, and here, they just grow willy-nilly all over the place. Did any of you know that poinsettias can grow to be large trees and not just piddly little plants that only live for a few weeks at Christmas time? Yep... they have those here!
So yesterday, we got up bright and early and piled into the combi (van). Seven people, each with a bunch of luggage, and two boxes of medicine makes for an uncomfortable 6 or more hours. Good thing we like each other! In Kenya, they drive on the “wrong” side of the road- literally. They drive on the left side, as a rule, but I think we spent just as much time on the right side of the road, avoiding people walking, people on bikes, donkeys, pot holes… Terrifying at times. But Driver David got us here safe and sound! David is great, by the way. Absolutely hilarious!
We picked up a few groceries (and a few delicious Kenyan beer!) at the Nakkumat (grocery-type store) and headed to the boarding house. This is when it hit me that I am in Kenya for three months. The four of us had a little moment in the courtyard... we were all kind of crying a little bit, but also laughing at something someone did or said- I can't remember what it was. Anyway, it was a crazy mixture of emotions and I had a hard time controlling myself. Soon, we headed over to meet the sisters. We were welcomed with an incredible greeting- which was so touching that I cried even more. The food was incredible- I can't remember the names of all of the foods, but we had a cabbage dish, a chicken dish, a dish with mashed potatoes, corn spinach and other things. They even made us pizza! Then we had our first Kenyan bananas- and holy moly, they are the best darn bananas I have ever eaten!!
This morning, we were all up bright and early- once again- and walked over to the hospital for a tour with Sister Jacinta. The hospital is incredible. They have a capacity of 86, but this morning they had 66 patients. They are renovating one section and will soon have enough room for 110. There is a men's and women's medical unit, a pediatric unit, the CCC- continuous comprehensive care center- a maternity unit and a surgery unit, also known as the theater. The hospital is made up of several small buildings, and all of them- like most other buildings that I have been in so far- are open to the air. The patients spend a lot of time outside either sitting on benches or even laying in the grass. It is a beautiful environment. Though it is very clean, it doesn't have the sterile feel that we are used to. We met some mom's with their new babies- only a few hours old! You wouldn't believe how beautiful these babies are! Incredible! Sister Jacinta told us that there were 149 babies born there in May. That is like 5 babies per day! We are going to get a lot of experience!! I will tell you more about the hospital as I get more familiar with it.
Jennifer Taylor and I are cooking supper together tonight. Sister Naomi just brought over a ton of carrots and onions picked fresh from the garden. I can seriously smell them from another room!!! I am so excited to eat garden-fresh carrots! I'll let you know if they're as good as the ones from my garden- I'm betting that they're better!!

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