- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: July 19 2013 July 19 2013
Morning came early today. The majority of the team is becoming weary. We had our typical breakfast at the hotel of eggs, sausage, bread, pineapple and watermelon. I did opt to try the cold cereal today, only to discover that they boil the milk, so it is cereal with warm milk. Interesting.
Arriving in Botoro today, we were greeted by the secondary school students outside, raising the flag in a ceremonious fashion. The teacher strike ended the other day. Some schools are back in session, but the majority will return to school on Monday. Can you believe that these children have been out of school for over two weeks?
The normal crowd of people greeted us this morning at the church. It is just amazing to watch these people push against the main church door and each other, trying anything and everything to get in to see us. We did the number system again today, which has proved to provide the greatest amount of order and the least amount of chaos. We ran the clinic today from 8:30 AM until 7:00 PM and saw around 290 people! I worked in triage again today and helped check in the patients we saw.
The poverty here is just amazing to me. The community today brought in the ten-year-old brother of the malnourished child we sent to the hospital yesterday. This older child is able to walk, but he only weighs 36 pounds! Thankfully we were able to take him to the hospital for treatment, too. Today we saw more interesting cases, including a debilitating and deforming bacterial facial infection, infected burn and stab wounds from family abuse, inguinal hernias, severe high blood pressure, uncontrolled asthma and many general illnesses. The ignorance here regarding basic health practices just amazes me, and people seem totally clueless regarding basic ailments we deal with daily in the U.S. For instance, a pregnant woman came in complaining of back and stomach pain (both normal during pregnancy). Another example is the middle-age woman who listed off every symptom of menopause to me and had no idea this is what she was experiencing. Several other patients have had a chief complaint of an increased heart rate when walking up a hill (also normal).
Simple hygiene would be helpful here too. At one point, Pastor Bill did a brief demonstration for the children on teeth brushing. Then he went out to hand out toothbrushes and toothpaste, and there was instantly a mob around him of people shoving, arguing and stealing trying to get the items. Again, items we take for granted are not even in every household here. In fact, later in the day, I had a man walk up to me and ask me what the dental floss was, and I had to complete a demonstration on how to use it in order for him to understand. Another simple hygiene need here is hand washing, especially after using the bathroom. I managed to go all week with not using the bathroom facilities at Botoro Lutheran Church. However, today I tried them out, and they are the typical "wash room" for the Kenyan people in this area. This means an outhouse with a hole in the floor, so yes, you simply squat to use the toilet. There is no toilet paper or a sink to wash your hands. Teaching them simple hand washing techniques (a big water jug with a nail in it that you remove to pour the water and then put the nail back in place to plug the hole). Another thought I had is the importance of footwear. We have treated many foot infections and wounds in our little clinic, and these Kenyan people walk multiple miles in bare feet or cheap flip flops or, at best, less-than-ideal shoes. The amenities we have in America are just astounding.
The women and school chefs prepared us another lunch meal of chicken, rice, chipati, ugali and cold soda. I must say, Kenyans eat pretty healthy here. Despite most of the team looking forward to some food from home, we could learn a few things from their eating habits here. Either way, the late lunches do sort of pull us through the end of the day. We again turned away many people at the end of the day who we could not see. It is just awful to see all of the health care needs here. The bishop elect prayed at the end of the day for another team to arrive in the near future to continue to help these Kisii people. We pray that our team has done some good this week and made an impact to both the health and spirituality for these people. The children ran alongside the bus as we left waving. What a great send off!
We returned to the hotel quite late and enjoyed a dinner of fried fish, rice, mixed vegetables, chipati and ugali. And then we performed a favor and set up a mini clinic in the hotel conference room for the hotel staff. The staff did try to invite their family and friends, but we put a stop to this quite quickly. It was around 10:00 PM by the time we packed up and ended with our nightly devotion. Even at our hotel, close to the town of Kisii, there are health care needs. But it has been a long week, and our Mercy Medical Clinic for this trip has been packed up.
We were able to serve over 1000 people this week, but, perhaps more importantly, I think these people taught us and opened our eyes about another culture, other ways of living, and the true health problems that exist outside of the United States. A week of blessings in multiple ways.
Saint John's member Kimberly Pepmiller is in Africa through July 25 with ten other doctors and nurses, lending her medical skills at clinics in Kisii, Kenya, operated by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's Mercy Medical Team.