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Deciding to sign-up with the Medical Project in Kenya with Projects Abroad was the right choice for 20-year-old Shauna Novobilsky, a biochemistry student at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. Shauna spent one month volunteering in a Kenyan public clinic with Projects Abroad where she was able to gain practical experience: “I have always wanted to learn more about medicine and I saw this as an opportunity to learn and, at the same time, do something worthwhile.” Based at Langalanga Health Center, a small clinic which serves patients from poorer communities, Shauna’s helping hand was very much appreciated: “The clinic is understaffed and there is a lack of resources. There are large numbers of patients on a daily basis; so this is where the volunteers offer much needed help by providing an extra hand. I have been rotating between different departments; shadowing and assisting the clinical officers and nurses, but after I gained their trust they allowed me to practice what I had learned from them by letting me run a department on my own.” Shauna has had the opportunity to observe and assist in various wards; from weighing babies, giving injections and vitamin A in the Child Care department. In Family Planning she helped administer injections, remove implants and take vitals, at the pharmacy and the TB clinic Shauna supplied the patients with their prescribed medicine. Shauna has also worked in the lab where she has run TB and other tests “This experience has taught me a lot about the basics of medicine: how to do charting, stitches, give injections and much more; but the most important lesson has been about the patient-doctor relationship, an experience I am sure will come handy in future.” Although things are quite different from the USA, it is has not been difficult for Shauna to adapt. “It was a shock at first, when we had to improvise due to lack of equipment, however I believe this was a positive lesson that will make me a better doctor.” She adds. Shauna’s host mother, Mama Jane, has contributed hugely in helping Shauna adapt to the Kenyan culture. She has introduced her to Kenyan food and encouraged her to go out and meet the locals. “I love it here! Kenya has been the most rewarding experience of my life, I am returning home to get my medical degree but I am sure to come back to Kenya after medical school.”
Having spent time in Nakuru I met a number of volunteers both from projescts abroad and other volunteering agency. It made me question whether what I was doing was worthwhile. There were people working in orphanages, building schools and building homes and rescuing street children.
On my last day. I was surprise to feel really sad. It seemed far too soon to leave. On speaking with one of the teachers who I worked closely with said that a few of the parents had said that they had noticed a difference whilst I was there. Two teachers for one class meant that we could give more one to one tuition for the children who needed extra help. The school had three classes one for each year. I was glad that I was able to make a difference.
The school doesnt have a sponsor scheme for children but there are plans for one to be set up. I will bekeeping in touch with the school.
I will also be keeping in touch with my host mum Jane.
I would like to thank projects abroad for accepting me as a volunteer and supporting me through out. I would also like to thank Faith, Mary and all the teachers for making me feel welcomed. thanks also to Mama Jane for all the chat and the hearty food. I know you wanted to fatten me up and I think eithery your plans were working or someon had sapped my jeans.
anyway i will now blogg off as my present volunteering has come to an end.
Wenig Text, dafuer aber ein paar Bilder...
Wie angekuendigt fuhr ich, mit sechs anderen, in den Massai Mara National Park. It was amazing!!!
Nach etwa 6 Stunden Fahrt (+ 2 Pausen) kamen wir in unserem Camp an. Echt klasse. Wir hatten 3 Zelte/Haeuser. Sie waren gut ausgestattet und soweit sauber. Auch das Essen, welches wir dort bekamen war bestens.
Freitag, nach wenigen Minuten ausruhen im Camp ging es dann auch schon fuer 2-3 Stunden los in den Park. Sogleich sahen wir eine ganze Menge an Gnus, Zebras, Elephanten, Voegeln, Tupis, Antilopen, Gazellen (2 Arten) und einen Bueffel. Da die Sonne auch schon so langsam unterging war das Licht einfach klasse und faerbte alles rot-orange-gelb.
Am Samstag ging es dann gegen 7.30 Uhr los in den Park, wo wir bis etwa 18 Uhr blieben. Dieser Tag war der Beste von allen. Zwei (oder sogar drei) Loewen-Gruppen mit Jungen, noch sehr viel mehr Elephanten, ein Rhino (Nashorn), drei Geparden, noch seeehhr viel mehr Zebras und Gnus und Tupis und Gazellen und Antilopen, Aasgeier, zwei Strausse, und und und... ach ja, und den Schwanz eines Leopaden! (Leoparden sind extrem scheu und damit sehr sehr selten zu sehen.)
Sonntag ging es dann schon um 6.30 Uhr los, damit wir den Sonnenaufgang sehen konnten und vielleicht auch ein paar Jadtszenen. Nach wenigen Minuten begruesste uns eine riesige Elefantenherde (Ali hat bis 70 mitgezaehlt). Desweiteren haben wir am Mara River eine Menge an Hippos (Nilpferde) und zwei Krokodile gesehen. Ach ja, und noch ein paar Giraffen. Ganz klasse war nachher, dass wir tatsaechlich nochmal einen Leoparden gesehen haben und dicht an ihn herankamen. Damit waren die Big 5 komplett!!
Das einzige, das wir nicht gesehen haben, waren Hyaenen (aber in der Nacht gehoehrt), einen ausgewachsenen Loewen (habe ich aber schon im Nakuru Park gesehen) und die Flussueberquerung der Gnus und Zebras (was das blutigste Spektakel geworden waere). Von daher, einfach klasse.
Ein grosser Dank geht dabei an unseren klasse Fahrer/Guide Richard. Er hat es geschafft uns ueberall hinzufahren, sogar dort hin, wo es nahezu unmoeglich erschien. Und er hatte richtig Ahnung, kannte alle Tiere, wusste, wo man sie am besten findet, und erspaehte sie super. Und wieder in Nakuru hat er sogar noch alle nach Hause gefahren, was garantiert nicht ueblich ist. Danke also!
So, und nun ein paar Photos... Nur die Big 5, die uebrigen (weil es schneller geht, in ein Album)
Beste Gruesse an alle. Da ich am Sonntag ja schon wieder zum Flughafen muss (kann uebrigens mit Mette fahren), werden auch nicht mehr viele Blogeintraege kommen. Bis bald,
Decided to visit the Masai Mara last weekend. The region is inhabited by the Masai people who are traditionally nomadic. over the years the kenyan government has encouraged some of the masai people to settle in order that their children can benefit from education. The masai have tried to maintain their traditional way of life. Many operate without money and goods are exchanged within the Masai market. If you have a goats and need a cow, you agrre the value of the goats against the cow and then you swap.
The masai weave their clothes and dye it various shades of red. the clours are very vibrant. Masai society is divided by division of labour. The women are the homemakers and that is literally. The women build the houses based on a timber frame held totgether by cow dung. The average house lasts twelve days before the termites destroy the frames and a new home needs to be built. The homes have a room for small calves at the front, a kitchen and a room each for the parents and children. The houses are very warm and compact.
A masai man may have up to 10 wives. The standard dowry is 10 cows for a wife, which is paid for by the prospective groom and deliverd to the prospective wife's family. There are traditional wedding dances for both males and females. in the traditional male wedding dance if the grrom can jump the highest they can get a discount on the dowry.
The traditonal masai way of life is chenging. The Masai traditional wore sandals made of used tyres which last for ten years but we saw Masai wearing trainers, shorts, using mobile phones and wearing shorts. The children ask for sweets.
We paid to visit the Masai village and the money goes to the masai people to help supplement their way of life. They live on meat milk blood and vegetables. The land that they live off is very arid and hard to cultivate. In kenya most people do not drink the water. The masai drink the water from the available rivers. these rivers are not clear running water and are brown in colour. They have developed a certain amount of immunity to some of the contents but not all. Education is seen as benefit al over the world and it is, however education conflicts with the nomadic way of life.
The place where i live is in a place called section 58. The first few days i had problems remembering the name and kept referring to it as studio 58. No one knew where I meant One would have thought with my UK day job this shouldn't have been a problem.
I live me my host mum Jane and her husband. We get on like a house on fire and have spent many evenings putting the world to right but of course still have somewhere to go. Jane made me feel welcomed from day one. her house sits in a plot of land where she grows a number of produce including avocados. Jane also keeps chicken a rare breed and an every say breed. Jane sells the eggs to a hotel and other businesses. The house is surrounded by tarmacked roads and situated in a guarded compound. This is in contrast to Checkpoint.
Nakuru is like London with various levels of poverty and affluence. On the road to Nakuru there is a community whose homes are made from wood corrugated iron and whatever materials are to hand. You can visit this and other communities like this on a day trip. I am puzzled by this. I wouldn't visit a poor community in England as part of a tourist trip. Some trips I am told include a contribution to the community. Nevertheless I am still puzzled. Do you need to visit to contribute? I know this may be controversial but to me it is treating the community as exhibit and must on some level objectify them. I wont be going.
You cant come to kenya without experiencing the Mutatus or Nissans. These are mini vans they are not all Nissans but the term is used similar to the term hoover. The vans are in various stages of delapidation. Each van has its own customasation whether this is a biblical theme or english football team/ Some run a specific service at a rough timtable and some will only leave when the bus is full. full does not mean when all the seats are taken. it means when you cannot possibly squeeze any more people or produce in. On the bus into work i have been squashed between the conductor and a woman. The van had 12 seats but i guess there was at least 15, including the baby that the conductor was holding. i am slightly claustrophobic and have found myself at the back of a van all too often.
the alternative is to sit up front and see everything in all its glory and the risk of pitching through the windscreen.
The vans are also driven like bumper cars and i am sure there is a secret game of chicken that the drivers subscribe to. I have tried to pretend am a local and to blend. all too often i give myself away by gasping at near head ons or narrowly missing a pedestrian.
Some have seat belts but if they work the thought of being trapped is just as bad.
As time goes on you get used to it all and the heart no longer races and the whole experience is that of fun.
Another day at school. They teach the kids the importance of hygiene. In the mornings when they arrive their hands and nails are checked for cleanliness. They are also required to have a handkerchief . Today i helped the children with the "u" sound and was drawing various images on the blackboard. Years of doodling has ensured that my bud is down to a fine art. The same cannot be said of my puppy the end of the session I managed to get chalk dust over my skirt. This brings me back to my child hood when blackboards were in regular use.
The children are like most children. Part of yesterday's home work was practising words. It was clear that a number hadn't done their home work. Interestingly some had problems with the "mw" which is found in many words. This is not a regular sound in the English language and therefore my mouth ached when showing the children. In the end i used " mwah" and blew a kiss to help those who struggled and it worked!
The Kindergaarten that I work in is in a place called Checkpoint. The surrounding streets are foard of dirt and there are mud patches and mud puddles where the rain has not been able to drain. The top two classes wear a uniform and appear very well presented. However if you look closely at some the facade quickly disappears. Many have frayed sleeves and some of the uniform are faded after many years of use. The nursery doesn't have a uniform and again the children are well presented. However their are children wearing trousers which are actually shorts for an older child. There are boys in pink clothing. The clothes are serviceable so what if the are tatty at the edges,the wrong size or in a colour that some people in England woulld never dream of putting a boy. The children don't seem to mind. How are we so different
I have known 4 year olds refusing to wear clothes in perfect condition just because they just didn't like them in England and this includes children whose parents are poor. Do we have too much choice.(rhetorical)
Got up early this morning to go to Lake Nakuru National park. Really wanted a lie in as Sunday morning but was told that the animals don't do lie ins! So up at 5.45 i was. I not gonna list all the animals as you will only get bored. We saw both white and black rhinos. The black ones are rare as they are poached for their horns as some people believe that the are aphrodisiacs. I really don't under stand that as looking back at pictures with me with an afro wasnt great. There were giraffes and various types of antelopes and gazelles plus buffaloes. we saw baboons everywhere. Our driver decided to go to the washroom. He left us in the van but before he Left he put the roof back down as he said he didn't want us screaming the place down if the baboons got in! Of course we just laughed. Then next minute we looked across and saw three baboons jump into van as the occupants had left their window open and left the vehicle. The rangers saw what happened and approached the vehicle and clicked their gun. The baboons left with someone's lunch contained in a white carrier bag. I fear that the baboon will not dispose of the bag appropriately
I went to the supermarket and went to the checkout with the shortest queue. There was beside me three incredibly tall women.I must have come up to their waist. i know that at 5ft 2 i am not the tallest in the world but these women were approaching 7ft. They look so elegant and majestic..I
to remember what my mother said "its rude to stare" but i couldnt stop looking. They were also very dark in skin tone. i thoight they must be Masi but my host mother said they could also be Sudanese. Unfotunately I could tell her any more to narrow it down.