Becca in Kenya: the Saikeri Series, Pt. 1
Leaving for Kenya
by Rebecca Fortney (dated June 2, 2014)
Last summer in Kenya, I encountered many problems while working at the Saikeri Dispensary, but the most common and most critical issue was the lack of proper medical supplies. Even after walking over 9 miles (one way!) for medicine or wound care, so many people had to turn around and head back home without help because the clinic did not have the supplies it needed in stock to provide proper care. Children showed up with severe conjunctivitis, and all we had to offer was paracetamol because we were frequently out of penicillin and tetracycline.
While I was helping at the clinic, it became very clear that wound cleaning was – and is – a major issue for the Dispensary. Patients came with severe and crippling infections because (what started as simple) wounds had not been properly cared for. These wounds needed to be cleaned of puss and then properly dressed to prevent them from becoming dirty again. I had taken many supplies for wound cleaning with me on my first trip last summer but ran out within only two weeks of my six week stint! That’s how big the problem is!
Because the nearest hospital is over 40 miles away (about a 4-hour motorcycle ride), many patients rely solely on the clinic. Not only is the clinic situated in a central location that’s reasonably accessible to the surrounding villages, it’s affordable, too. Patients pay only 10 Kenyan shillings per visit. The clinic also serves the girls living at the nearby boarding house as well as the primary and secondary school children for free. The clinic provides monthly pregnancy tests for all the young women who live at the boarding house, vaccinations (when in stock) for babies and toddlers, and Depo-Provera (a contraceptive injection) to women. The clinic provides this contraceptive to women in secret because it is highly frowned upon within the Maasai culture for women and men to use contraception, which definitely contributes to the high pregnancy rates.
After living and working amongst the people of Saikeri, I grew to love and care for the beautiful culture of the Maasai. When I return to Kenya this summer (in just a couple of days), I will be bringing with me medical supplies that I recall (from past experiences) are most needed. While I’m there, I will also be helping out with other volunteer projects in the Saikeri District, like working with the preschool children to further their English and Swahili in preparation for primary and secondary school classes!Learn more about Montana Maasai Outreach here and stay tuned because Rebecca plans to keep SCIWHF updated on her work in Kenya with videos, photographs, and journal entries. We’ll be sharing it all with you, too.
Georgina Goodwin/World Bank. 2010. Maasai women make, sell and display their bead work in Kajiado, Kenya. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/9d6SdR*
*In no way does the licensor of this image endorse SCIWHF, the content of this post, or the use of this image on this website.