rotating header

Friday, September 01, 2017

. . . . And August is a wrap . . . but the next two months look uncertain

None too soon, this month is behind us.

As I type, the nation of Kenya sits glued to radios, waiting for the news from judges who we hear may have flown to a game park for seclusion all week, sifting through documentation to decide whether or not to call for a new election in 60 days, or uphold the results.    Television cameras follow the leader of the opposition.  But most of the nation feels tired.  Tired of being on edge, tired of being lied to, tired of rumor and unrest, tired of corruption and strikes.  Whatever the outcome today, we are praying for a just peace.  A lawful way for Kenyans to continue to sharpen their future course and competing visions, without bloodshed.

This month has taken a toll.  As evidenced by this blog being unusually dormant.  So, a glimpse of the life that flowed by in the last few weeks.  Because we stayed open at the hospital, and life went on in spite of politics.


This baby came in having lost 41% of his birthweight.  That's almost half.  I hesitated to photograph him that day, he was a skeleton.  Now he's half-way back to healing.  A year ago he would not have survived, but this Naivasha team has come a long way on treating critically ill infants.  

This woman spent the first 24 hours of her labor being turned away from 3 hospitals, traveling about 75 km on public matatus (small buses) from Nakuru, the county seat with the biggest public hospital where she was turned away because of the nursing strike, to a private hospital in that town where she was turned away because her husband's savings of 6,000 shillings ($60, a month's wages for a laborer) were a pittance compared to the thousand dollars required for a deposit, to a Catholic private hospital where they were told no room at the inn (they thought the baby by that time would need nursery care, and the newborn unit was full), to Naivasha, because her friend called my friend who contacted me.  She needed a C-section, and we really didn't think the baby would survive all that, but he did.  So the anguish turned to joy, but this picture gives a face to the reality of ordinary Kenyans this year with its strikes and shut-downs.  And shows why it is important that at least one hospital with public access (maternity care is $5) remain available.

Meanwhile many other Kenyans go to private clinics, which have criminally hiked their fees by tripling them to take advantage of the situation.  These clinics are often little more than a shopfront and beds, and ill equipped for sick babies.  So then they transfer them to us, often too late.

I've had three abuse cases this month, which has also been an emotional challenge.  Two beatings and one horrific rape of a mentally disabled 5 year old.  Perhaps the strain of this month puts children at increased risk.  You can't work long here and not believe in evil.

But you can also not work long here and not believe in hope.  In miracles of healing, in the determined love of mothers, in the resilience of families.  We have had THREE SETS OF TRIPLETS born in August, and 8/9 are surviving.  Plus numerous twins, pneumonias, TB, infected knees, brain infections, seizures, jaundice, liver failure, poisonings, etc etc.  And most have revived to go home.

And teaching continues, with interns learning to care for the kids that come in.  Rounds, lectures, practice with manikins, drills, questions, explanations.  This is what we do, day by day, in the context of real patients, building on the care these young people will provide for decades to come.


We also did our weekend of call and work at Kijabe, which is a juxtaposition of very complicated children who are challenging to care for and make the experience edgy, and cheerful competent colleagues who make the experience delightful.

These are again, human parents, struggling to do their best, and we work hard to partner with them.


Another Bundi kid comes to RVA.  Pray for E, she is leaving home for boarding in 9th grade.  IT IS HARD.  Like moving the college goodbye up by 4 years, and throwing in an international border and 23 hours of driving.

Another HUGE PERK of being an Area Director, we become alternate grandparents.  What a joy to welcome baby Jacob.

We had a weekend retreat with the Kijabe team, hikes and prayer and food and reunion.  Very refreshing.

Julia came!!!  After a summer internship working with the Royal Botanical Gardens in Jordan on biology/ecology/research/preservation, plus studying some Arabic, she finished her summer break up with us. We were stuck mostly working in Naivasha due to elections and absence of most other workers.  But we had wonderful walks, she made us a garden, went on retreat with Kijabe team at the end, watched Man U football, ate wonderful meals, talked and rested and prepared for the next term.
Her arrival.

One day we even went down to the lakeside for local fried whole tilapia.

Our old house, where our friend Abigail still works for a new family.

The garden she planted for us:  spinach, sukuma wiki, basil, and cilantro.  Plus a random two tomato plants that grew from the compost. 

The goodbye.  

And one more lovely photo.

And as a reward for making it through this post, history took a turn around an unexpected corner while I was working.  The Supreme Court announced that the Presidential election will have to be re-done.  There was enough irregularity to cast doubt on the result.  Shocking.  Hopeful, in that I believe it takes courage to rule against the inertia of the incumbency.  Unsettling, in that the strikes will not be resolved, and we don't know how the country will react.  SO KEEP PRAYING.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for blogging Jennifer and Scott. I am praying for you and your dear ones. Judy in HMB

Deanna said...

Continuing to pray for peace through election process. And greetings from Corinne Talbott.