Welcome to Kisumu

11/11

Jambo!
So we have finally settled into our host family homes and have somewhat acclimated to this completely unique culture and society we have been placed in. Coming to Kenya I had done my best efforts to suppress my thoughts of the cliché picture of Africa that many people think of from seeing outdated documentaries or photos online…but that picture is not all too inaccurate. We arrived at the small Kisumu airport right on Lake Victoria and met Ludi, Elliott, and Agnes. Agnes and Elliott both work at KMET and Agnes also happened to be the sister of my host mother Varine so it is nice to have a KMET connection at my home here as well. We got into a truck and I was actually shocked to see what I saw. Not that being shocked is a bad thing, it was a reality check that our lives at home are much more pampered than we may like to admit. There did not seem to be a “right side of the road to drive on,” one simply drove and avoided any oncoming cars, boda-boda’s, piki-piki’s, or tuk-tuk’s. I found a boda-boda is a bicycle taxi, a piki-piki is a motorcycle, and a tuk-tuk is asmall three wheeled motor vehicle – all of which are by far the most common forms of transportation people use in Kisumu. They are anywhere and everywhere. The main road was paved but a majority of the roads are just dirt roads that have been created over years of heavy use and are covered in large potholes and puddles that collect rainwater. The roads were lined with little tin or mud and stone shacks as well as small wooden stands tied together with string that served as local businesses for some locals to sell goods like vegetables or clothes.
My home is in Nylendi – although the correct spelling has slipped my mind – and it is located in one of the five slums around the city of Kisumu. The center of town is a bit more developed and has some restaurants (called hotels) and various shops that you would find in any city in other nations. My home was just built two months ago so we still have no running water – hopefully next month this changes once a well is put in. My room was just surrounded by the roof of the house and some sheet metal the first night but boards were then put up for some insulation and sound blocking although nothing can block the sound of the lively frogs after a hard rain or the fighting lions down the road in the local impala preserve. A bucket and hot water serves as my morning shower but it is nice to have the bathroom in the house which many homes do not have.
Today was the first day of orientation at KMET which was very interesting to see what this group is all about. It is a very well organized program that is very well integrated into the local community and I was pleasantly surprised to see how developed they had become in just 12 years. The KMET group seems to be busy everyday doing everything from clinical work to community based work like education to schools and the surrounding slums. KMET only helps in areas that show that they want to change their ways and actively learn in order to better their lives, prevent diseases like HIV/AIDS, and try to learn how to fight malnutrition in children which is a huge problem here. I will be working in the clinics and it seems like I will get to do a lot and see a lot of patients. The main clinic has an ultrasound and dental sector but both clinic buildings do testing and treatment for diseases like typhoid, malaria, and tuberculosis. The clinics are also a completely new thing to me because they were not very well equipped to do the things that we are so lucky to have in the United States. Although I was happy to see they had a lot of materials like sanitation, ultrasound, and various medicines and vaccines, it was still a bit of a shock to see this new type of healthcare facility compared to the lavish hospitals I had worked in at home in Reading or in Germany. It was an eye opener though to see this and I hope that I can make the most of this experience and help out as much as I can. I think I will be able to do a lot of hands on work and I am excited to start helping people since that’s what I am here to do and 8 weeks of work will go by quickly.
-Shane

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