MedShare visits Partners for Care in Kenya
Recently, board members, the Executive Director and staff of Atlanta based MedShare included a on their trip to Kenya a visit to Partners for Care. The Kenya team was very excited to host the MedShare team to share with them about the work of PFC and to thank them for the 40 foot container of medical supplies and equipment PFC recently received. The following is an excerpt of a posting on the MedShare blogspot written by one of their board members.
I am Terry Blum and I have the privilege to serve on MedShare’s board. This is my second trip with MedShare and it is a wonderful journey in terms of learning and sense-making. Quite frankly, I am not sure I can construct meaning from all that I am sensing from my eyes, ears, mouth, fingers and nose. I am also sensing from my heart, making this whole experience so difficult to justly describe. As someone who is quite cerebral in everyday life, this adventure touches below my head into my heart and reaches into the region of feeling and intuition. The incredibly rich tapestry of the lenses of the people with whom I am touring, all of whom are awesome in their own way, is coupled with the wisdom of those we visit. I know I will not be the same when I return as I was when I left Atlanta in that huge airplane.
After wonderful bonding and familiarizing ourselves with the agenda, we got into the reason for MedShare today by first visiting St. Mary’s Nairobi and then Partners for Care I will report on Partners for Care which is part of the mHealth alliance which engages in mobile health initiatives among other things.
Our group transitioned from St. Mary’s to Partners for Care with lunch at the incredible Safari Park Hotel, where Sam (communications director) and Samuel (director in Kenya) from Partners for Care joined us. The grounds of the Safari Park are quite elegant and could have been a movie scene from colonial times or an upscale suburb anywhere. The food and the group’s camaraderie are awesome, but the contrast with the needs of so many is evident as one passes by the slums of Kibera (2nd largest in the world after Soweto with estimates of 1-2 million residents), and Marurui where 26 – 30,000 people live. En route to the clinic, we rode on a really bumpy road that went on for quite a while. We came to a stop outside a building that was the initial Partners for Care destination for most of us. The signage said, what if? Life Changing Center.
“what if?” is a question of what it would be like if there were no AIDS in Kenya. While most of us went into the clinic building, Lindsey Barber and Charlie Evans went into Marurui slum with Peter from Partners for Care. Peter took them to visit a friend’s home as well as to complete a patient assessment to show how the mHealth program works. The hand-held device relays medical information and pictures to Dr. Vincent at the clinic. Dr. Vincent then triages the patient relaying the instructions for caring for the patient to Peter. Each entry creates a secure medical record for the patient.
Partners for Care was founded by Atlanta nurse, Connie Cheren, who came to the MedShare store for supplies for some of her medical team mission trips. PFC has 8 programs in addition to the clinic. As we walk past the goat on the corner into the what if? building through the door with Clinic written on it, we found a world of hope and love. At the what if? Life Changing Life Center, there is a one room clinic, class room for their Second Chance program that prepares 20 students for the national graduation exam with 2 years of education. There is also a computer room that serves 20 adult students at a time. Forty-five or so have received or are receiving training and 20 have found jobs.
Going into the clinic run by Dr. Vincent we saw a PET, personal energy transport vehicle which was sent in a MedShare container. Other programs include sports programs for the kids, with volunteer coaches, including a policeman who was tired of just arresting kids, a malaria prevention program that has distributed thousands of treated malaria nets to households with kids under 5, and the wonderful music group Temples of Worship that draws crowds for AIDS awareness and prevention. There is also an 8k race that is run at the same time as a 5K in Atlanta (the Kenyans finish the longer race quicker!) Their Marsabit program is really striking. Partners for Care serves one of the most impoverished sections of Kenya. They treat children infected with jiggers, a kind of parasitic flea that enters the skin and reproduces so the children can’t walk. The inflammation is incredible. 350 children have been treated with anti bacterial soap and water after which the hands and feet are covered with Vaseline. 89 have been provided with shoes that can help prevent the jiggers from infecting the children.
The health programs are important as 473 Kenyan children under 5 die every day, 71 due to HIV/AIDS, 93 to malaria….90% of these deaths are due to preventable causes! So Partners for Care is there to help reduce child deaths.
Our visit was truly inspirational….we were sung to with a Jambo (welcome) song which included Hakuna Matata, reminding me of the Lion King and the Circle of Life! They also sang a song “Smile”…happy for you… will lift you up, hold your hands, loose your pain, so you smile again. They ended our visit by singing “That Little Light of Mine” in English and Swahili….We left on our bus singing “That little heart of mine, let it shine,” knowing the love in the hearts of the Partners for Care staff. The passion and inspiration of the Kenyans who spend so much energy to do their work to serve their own people is a memory I will always cherish. They are rich in spirit, and thanks to them there is a little more light shining for many.
From Connie – we are grateful for their visit and for telling their story on their blog. We are privileged to work with MedShare helping them connect surplus with need. They are welcome at the Partners for Care home in Kenyan anytime!
Connie Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry