Friday, August 26, 2011

Ruuju Women's Clinic

By: Danaiet Teame, Gloria Smith, Danielle McConnell, & Hannah Hughes

This week we had the pleasure of returning to the Ruuju area to hold a clinic for the Ruuju women’s group. We hadn’t been to the Ruuju area since our first week in Meru, so we were excited to go back and re-assess the women. With 47 women in attendance, we assessed 15 more women than during our first clinic in June. Most of the women brought their health cards that we gave them in June, and some even came with the cards that the nursing students gave last year. We offered the same assessments as for the Muchuii Women’s group including: Blood Pressure, oxygen, blood glucose, height, weight, BMI, waist circumference, and HIV testing. The forty-seven women gathered at the school and chatted and waited patiently as we made our way through all of their assessments, which took us 3 hours. As we began our assessments, Dorcas began educating the women on HIV and the importance of being testing. We weren’t exactly sure what she was saying but she had the whole place in laughter! Every woman was tested for HIV and they expressed a strong interest in having us come back to offer testing for their husbands.

When we were all finished, one of the older women taught us the handshake of a happy woman, which she did with each of us. All the women gathered outside as we were leaving and sent us off with a song and dance!

This week we also picked up 25 nursing scrub tops from Ester, one of the Muchuii women who is a seamstress. We picked out a bunch of different Kenyan materials and brought them to Ester with one of our scrub tops from Canada which she used as a template to make the Kenyan scrubs. We are very happy with how they look; they are so very nice! We plan to bring them back to PEI to sell and to return all money raised to help fund some of the Muchuii women's group projects.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Update on the Cookhouse

By Danaiet Teame, Gloria Smith, Danielle McConnell, & Hannah Hughes

On Tuesday after our day at the hospital, we walked down to Kieni-kia-Ndege school to see how the building of the new cookhouse was progressing. We were really shocked yet excited to see how far along the building of the cookhouse has come in just two weeks (picture above). It was coming close to what would be the end of a Canadian workday, but there were still about five men working hard showing no signs of stopping. They have been working hard over the last two weeks and plan to be finished in another two weeks. They explained to us that they could finish sooner, but they want it to be perfect. There were also two new water tanks on the property that will be put up, along with one almost finished handwashing station. We look forward to visiting the school again in the September when the children have returned to class.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Research Project Coming to an End!

by: Hannah Hughes

The last couples of weeks were busy, and have flown by! I continued on with my home visits, and have finished up most except two of them. I feel as though I’ve been able to see and experience so much the past couple of months by the Muchui women kindly letting me into their homes, but I am sad to see my time working in the community coming to an end! I am so excited to see the final results of this project, after part two has been completed in two years time. I’m grateful to have been able to be a part of it!

On August 4th, Harrison and I got to go on a little adventure with three of the Muchui women who we have been working with, Emily, Dorene, and Cecilia. They let us tag along for the day while they went to collect wood on one of the hills in the Kiirua area. We were able to collect wood on Dorene’s farm, as she owns land on most of the hill. It is illegal to take wood from land that you do not have permission to be on, so these women are lucky to know someone nearby who has trees that can be cut for firewood. We walked about 2 kms from Emily’s house to Dorene’s, and then proceeded up the mountain another km before we could start collecting wood. There is an area of 2-3 kms once you get to the top of the hill that these women usually collect wood from. As I tried to help out, I learned very fast that they have precise methods of collecting firewood. There are specific sizes of wood that they collect, and certain types that they don’t collect at all. I suppose this makes sense that the women would develop a strategy of what works best if they must collect wood anywhere’s from three times a week to everyday. While Harrison documented our adventure, I got to help the women cut down wood. At first I was a little nervous of swinging the huge machete, but after a little while I got the hang of it. Although, me getting the hang of it doesn’t mean I was able to cut down wood very efficiently. It is extremely hard work, and the women thought it was hilarious how terrible I was at cutting wood. So even though I wasn’t able to contribute as much help as I would have liked to, I provided them with some entertainment for the day. It was a great experience, and has really put into perspective how hard the Muchui women have to work to provide for their families every day. I have so much respect for them.

As schools have closed for the term, a lot of them have been busy with projects while the students are absent. We stopped at Kinyinjere Primary School one day on our way home from home vists, and there was a lot going on there! The school has been getting prepared for their new water tanks by building the bases for them, and the entire school (except for the new addition donated by the VanLeeuwens) is currently being painted to brighten the school up! Along with those projects, the school is also harvesting their crops (which did very well this year) in order to sell them and make a profit to support the students in the upcoming school year. It is great to see them doing so well.

The nursing girls summed up the last little while pretty well. It was very sad to see Harrison and Amy leave, and exciting to welcome the Italians! It is hard to believe that we will be arriving in Charlottetown a month from today! Time has flown by.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Goodbyes and Hellos!

Written by Danaiet Teame, Gloria Smith and Danielle McConnell

Monday was a sad day here at St. Teresa’s as we said good-bye to Amy and Harrison, as they took off to Nairobi because their 90-day internship has come to an end. We are now down to the mzungo 4 and cannot believe how quickly our time here is passing. We began last week at the St. Teresa’s hospital with a presentation to the staff from Amy and Harrison on Monday morning. They summarized the work and projects that they have been doing in the community and hospital, and the staff were delighted and receptive to the recommendations on diet and nutrition they presented. We spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the hospital and took off to the community of Murinya for HIV outreach on Thursday. Once again we did HIV testing and counseling with the help of Dorcas and Freeda from St. Teresa’s. We also spent the week preparing for a health clinic for the Muchui Women’s group, which was held Saturday. We prepared brochures on healthy living and HIV and worked hard to print and fold all 400 of them, which we handed out at the clinic and will hand out the remainder in the communities which we do HIV outreach. The clinic was held in Kinyinjere at a local church and included blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, height, weight, BMI, blood glucose and HIV testing. Dorcas once again was a great help and joined us to assist with HIV testing and counseling. There was a great turnout of 33 women who circulated through the different stations and we finished the clinic with a presentation on each health topic. Sunday the mzungo 6 headed to church in the morning and in the evening had a farewell dinner with the sisters for Amy and Harrison. We were sad to see them leave but things at St. Teresa’s didn’t stay quiet for long. This week two medical students from Italy arrived and this morning 5 volunteers also from Italy arrived, and will be staying in the guest house with us.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


By: Hannah Hughes

It’s really hard to believe that our time in Kiirua has exceeded our halfway point! Even though we have done and experienced so much since the end of June, it also feels like we just got here. Last week was summed up pretty well by Harrison and Amy, as we did home visits together, and also got to see the beginning of the new cookhouse at KK! We were also privileged to witness the new horticulturist being introduced to the Muchui Women’s group, who welcomed him with open arms and many songs! This week, I am busy finishing up most of my home visits with just Mama Jen, as Amy and Harrison finished last week. Today we made it to five homes that are very far out in Kiirua, and it required a 10 km walk around one of the large hills around the area! It was quite the experienced, for both Jennifer and myself, as she had never been to the area before either. We were lucky and thankful to one member of the Women’s group, Doris, who kindly took us around to all of the homes. Once again, I am blown away by the generosity of these women, who will do anything to help, even if it means taking 5 hours out of their day, as Doris did for us today. We were also able to see one of the new stoves installed, which was very exciting! We stopped in a few homes that we have already visited as well, to see the stoves there. All of the women are SO excited about these stoves, and it is such a nice sight to see. I know that these stoves will make such a positive impact on the lives of these women, and their families, and am very happy to be able to be able to see this project being initiated! On our way home from visits, we stopped by KK to see the progress of the cookhouse, which is progressing very well thanks to some very hard working people. It’s great to see the impact that Farmers Helping Farmers has in the community of Kiirua.