The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love...Kenya

The contents of this website are my own PERSONAL opinion. They do not reflect the opinions, policies, actions, feelings, or eating habits of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Government, any government, shadow governments, or anyone else, for that matter, but ME.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Smell of Summer

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful start to the New Year.  I would say that I have some sympathy for you, freezing over there in the dead of winter, but we all know that I really don't.   We are in the hottest part of our year in my part of Kenya.  This is the dry season, and it is "hot" and the rains aren't expected until March (that is if they come, drought has been a problem as of late).   Hot here isn't like hot in Tennessee, so I am managing just fine.  Although I wouldn't turn down central air, or a fan for that matter.   Life is still chuggin' along here in ole Oyugis.  I am working on my projects and trying not to get into too much trouble.  I wish I had some wonderful adventure to talk about, but just getting to my front door somedays is more adventure than I can handle.   I am getting ready for my mother's visit, which should be in May.  I wonder what a shock to the system coming to visit and work here will be like.   She has never had a passport or been out of the country for any length of time.  I left a copy of the Lonely Planet Kenya with her, that might not have been the smartest thing I've ever done.   The language, while mild by most standards in regards to Kenya, has her worried about her safety.  I know that by the time for her trip gets here, she might be quite spooked.   I hope that she just has some faith in my pathetic Kiswahili skills and that Kenya is like the 16th developing country I have managed to find my way round in.


So, I was in Nairobi again a few weeks ago (again…boy, Peace Corps is going to make me more broke than I imagined, with all this going to Nairobi) and I finally got to see my first football game in a YEAR.  I got to see the Indianapolis Colts get a severe butt-kicking but the Steelers.  I won't go into the complicated football emotions involved, suffice to say, I was thrilled to see the game play out the way it did, even though I think Tony Dungee is a great coach.  I know that JP must be heartbroken that the Broncos fell to the Steelers, and after such a good showing by Jake "The Snake" Plummer.  I will most likely not get to watch the Super Bowl.   It begins at 2am Monday morning here in Kenya.  And while I am a serious, die hard football fan, I just don't know that my Kenyan sleep schedule can manage it.   I mean for the first time since I was in elementary school I am in bed by 9pm every night.  I figure I am just preparing for old age, which is quickly around the corner.


Ok, some scary things that I have learned in the past week.  I was at our District hospital to meet with the family planning nurse, a very nice woman.   We were gong over all the contraception options they offer to their patients.  I had known that Norplant was still offered here, even though it was taken off the market a few years ago in the US because of excessive scar tissue due to improper implantation.  That is something that has always bothered me.  Docs in the US weren't able to always perform the procedure to eliminate scar tissue; my expectations of the Kenyan medical staff's ability wouldn't exceed that standard (I'm trying to be nice).   Well, also available to Kenyan women is the IUD (inter-uterine device).  This is just something that made me cross my legs!   The IUD has returned to some popularity in America in recent years, but with many modifications and much more supervision from medical staff than back in the 70's.  There are many risks associated with the device, least of which is heavy, painful bleeding and a risk of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) when the proper, sterile procedures aren't followed strictly.   I really worry about this device in wide use in Kenya for a host of reasons.  But the nurse assured me that oral contraception is still by far the most favored method, followed by Depo Provera (a quarterly injection).   I was talking these things over later with the nurse that runs my organization's clinic, and this is where the real shock immerged.  She informed me that it is nurses who perform all the implantation procedures, without a doctor's supervision.   Now, my mother is a nurse, and in most ways I have ALWAYS preferred the care of nurses and nurse practitioners to that of doctors.  But, I can't explain the dangers involved when there is no doctor present for the implantation of IUD or Norplant, especially in Kenya.  This is the Ministry of Health's Standard Operating Procedure, so I have no hope of trying to change this protocol.  I do hope that I will be able to talk to docs, nurses and others involved to at least change a few minds at my District hospital.   And in my family planning lectures, I will be acutely aware of letting girls and women know some of the long-term risks of both these methods.  My lectures will be more focused on condoms anyway.  I will be speaking to high school kids, and barrier methods are better for disease prevention reasons that get lost when a girl is "on the pill."


I did get a really interesting question about the book drive.  My friend asked if it was ok to be sending all these English language books.   I told her, and will clarify it here, that Kenya has two national languages, one of which is English and the other is Kiswahili.  The way school works is that in the 1 st through 3rd grade equivalents are taught in their "mother tongue" or vernacular.  This means Kikamba, Dhlou or whatever the tribal language is.   Then after 3rd grade they are taught in Kiswahili.  Now, high school is taught exclusively in English (except for the Kiswahili language classes) and the national exam they have to take to graduate high school is conducted in English (again, expect for the Kiswahili).   So, yep…English language books are perfect.  And lucky for me, because you have no earthly clue just how bad my Kiswahili is.


Well, I just want to send a shout out to my AWESOME friends who sent some absolutely BRILLIANT Christmas packages: JP, Lisa, Margaret, Renee and Tonia.   Your all getting notes from me soon, but I hope you know that you all are simply amazing and that the joy you brought to my holiday will never be surpassed!


Hope to hear from you all soon.


Post a Comment

<< Home