Today was the defining day of my trip thus far. “Why am I here?” the question proposed and the answer was to be discovered as the day progressed.
Let me first note, that all mosquitos have been harmed in the writing of this blog. Show no mercy. Leave no winged creature unharmed. You sense the bitterness, right? Well, I’ve been a buffet for a bunch of 6 legged baffoons flying around my bedroom for the last few nights, and I put a stop to the party once and for all. Kenyan bug spray is 10x more powerful than RAID and does the job very nicely.
But now onto more important topics:
I spent a day with many people at the Hope Clinic and really found out what is being done in this facility, and I do have to say, I’m extremely proud that I am a part of this operation. Basically the clinic has two sections: A VCT and a treatment center. A VCT is a Voluntary Counseling and Testing center, meaning that anyone can just come in, get counseled, get tested, get their results, and get options for treatment in 45 minutes!
If a person diagnosed as HIV positive wants to enroll in the treatment, they have to have a certain CD4 count, and if so, they are eligible to take ARVs, which are Anti-RetroViral medicines, which improve the quality of life for a person living with HIV.
What does this mean? This means that a single mother with HIV may live long enough until her children are grown, so they won’t have to be orphaned. Orphans often end up in the streets, being exploited by family members, become drug addicted, and often repeat destructive cycles of those around them.
I sat with a pharmacist as he talked with a woman who was about to begin the program. They are very keen on education. That’s one thing that strikes me about this place. People see a few counselors before they even start taking the medicine, and the risk with the medicine is that, if people don’t complete their cycle, they put not only their body at risk, but the entire population, because resistant strains of HIV can develop. So education is key, and it was great listening to this woman tell the pharmacist all she had learned.
HIV here is so taboo and most people know very little about it.
So the question still remains: what is my role here?
To summarize my work here, I am here as a volunteer working as an IT expert in the realm of hospital management. A management application has been written which is not currently being used and is not in the final stages yet, and it seems that my work will be to bring this piece of software to the clinic and to help develop modules on it to get it working. Once the software is up and running, my role will be to train the staff, and to help develop business processes around the software. One of the challenges is, to introduce this change with minimal impact on the number of patients seen every day, meaning, little interruption of “business-as-usual”. This is definitely a huge growing opportunity for me. I get to take the many years of experience as a tech consultant, and put it to the test in this very critical role that I’m in. Prayers are definitely appreciated. It’s exciting, to say the least.
Right now there are so many reasons why this software is needed by the clinic. The Hope Clinic is seeing thousands of patients, and this number is steadily growing! And more efficient and cost effective processes are needed to improve the quality of care, as the numbers increase, while keeping the costs at a decent level. too much to ask? Well they’re doing it!
Nadia: The Program Director, cheezing it up
Charles and Junte Data managers of the clinic.
So, after this long day, I decided to get a little ambitious! An acquaintance I just met out here, a pediatrician named Judd (forgot his last name) invited me to join him and the Kenyan Runners Club for an afternoon jog through the city. This runners club is a haven for marathon runners (what was I thinking??) I decided to say yes. Many hours later, I’m sitting here with my leg elevated cuz my knee is swollen. It was only an hour run, but it was over crazy terrain in the middle of this urban park that was built near the president’s mansion, for runners and bikers. I met some excellent people, including a man who ran the marathon in 2.1 hours So, the head of the club was there and she seemed to take a liking to me, and I may join them for a run in a few weeks through Ngong Hills, overlooking the Great Rift Valley (yes the one you read bout in 9th grade social studies).
So, kind of embarrassing. Halfway thru the run, my stomach started acting up, and well, guess the fiber I’d been eating all day had finally kicked in! Running is difficult when bowel pressure increases, and I thought I could just continue as is. Twenty-minutes later, we stopped for some spontaneous aerobics and stretching, and jumping up and down in place. OH BOY, there’s movement where there should be none, and, I’m desperate. I had to find something!
So, I found a public restroom, which was basically a little room WITHOUT a door, with a hole in the ground. I proceeded to get into the position, but i realized I was facing the running trail, and joggers were definitely seeing my current state. Call it shyness, call it performance anxiety, I had to bite the bullet. I just couldn’t continue. I held my own, in so many words :)
After the run with the Kenyan Runners: Intense, Wild, Dangerous… exhausted :)
And the evening ended with me cooking dinner for my sis and our friends.. behold the master at work:
And now i’m home, with a pack of frozen ground beef on my knee – hoping i’ll be able to train again in a couple of days. Thanks for reading if you’ve read thus far!
OH!! and a quick note: Egypt is goin to the FINALS of the AFRICA CUP!! Egypt beat Senegal last night 2-1 in the playoffs: YEA BOYEE!!
More to come!