Monday, October 12, 2009

Your health is your wealth

I have survived my first month in Nairobi and it hasn't been easy! I got over my initial shock in the first few weeks after being robbed on a matatu. I was set up. The matatu tout dropped my fare on my lap, I scrambled to pick it up. Meanwhile the well dressed man next to me with briefcase and newspaper , was busy taking my wallet out of my bag. I knew instantly I had been robbed, and began shouting at everyone on the matatu, but no matter..another wuzungu robbed.
I am over that now, but very suspicious of all men on matatus carrying envelopes, briefcases and newspapers..

My work days are very busy. I am working in 3 departments in Kenyatta National hospital: ENT, Psychiatry and OT. Full waiting rooms await my arrival at 9pm. Some have travelled far, and all arrive at the same time and wait all morning if they have to, to be seen. Appointments with different times don't seem to work . People come in the morning, wait all morning and no one ever complains or grumbles. Some have to pay some money that they don't have, others pay 500 shillings (5 euro) which is a lot when you have a family to feed. So I decided to go to them, to Kibera slum, one of the largest slums in Africa

I was contacted by an Association to give a talk on speech and language therapy to a group of mothers with disabled children in Kibera. I met the pastor who introduced me to the group who met in a church under construction (no roof). He introduced the session with a prayer (help) and my colleague translated from Kiswahili into English. I emphasised the need for early intervention (o-5 years) and the group of parents appeared receptive. Then time for questions

My 15 year old is very violent. We keep him at home and have locked him in a cage as he is very dangerous. What can we do? It is not safe to let him out

My 5 year old was bitten by a dog yesterday. I brought her to Kenyatta hospital and have been seen home with these prescriptions. They cost 500 shillings per day but I can't afford it. She is starting to itch (rabies alert)

My 16 year old has Cerebral Palsy. She doesn't speak. She's not in school as I cant afford the school fees.

My 5 year old hasn't spoken since he got meningitis last week. They sent him home but he isn't talking now and he is very limp

Sorry if i have depressed anyone. Makes the recession at home a little easier to bear when you put it in perspective. And no one complained that day or will ever complain..maybe that's the problem, no one complains to this useless Kenyan Government

Too busy worrying about their own interests.

Kofi Annan has just left the country- flying 4 day visit to put pressure on Government for reforms. He is trying to speed up reforms including the trial of those who bear the responsibility for the violence that claimed more than 1, 000 lives early last year following disputed presidential elections

Kofi Annan said it would be dangerous to enter the next electoral cycle without reforms

"Kenyan leaders must listen to the voices of the people"

so there..just a flavour of life in Kenya

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marie, Amazing blog so well written, and so heart rending. It's horrific that people have to deal with so much hardship and to be so helpless.. we don't understand that here in the 1st world our concerns are so bourgeois. You are so brave to be there and offering your help. Perfect title for the blog your health is the bottom line and it is the ultimate and only wealth. Shit to be robbed. Life will never be the same again after this experience.. it will change everything.. You are truly living life not spectating. Clo