Half way there

Catherine1 Posted by Catherine McKnight on Fri, 13 May 2011 | 2 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

I’m about half way through my time on STEP placement now and it’s made me think about how far I’ve come, what I still want to do while I’m here, and also about the future and where I feel I’m meant to be. Building relationships here in Kajiado has been a great blessing, and I know I’m forging lifelong friendships that will make leaving in August all the more heart-wrenching.

I’ve been completing an application stating where I want my job to be in September, when I return to training in England. I found this particularly difficult because of feeling torn between two places. At this stage, I’m letting my head rule my heart, knowing that it makes sense to come home and complete my paediatric training before considering a more permanent move here.

Celebrating Easter in Kajiado was a special experience. On Easter Sunday, after many months of preparation, the cathedral was consecrated by the Archbishop. Ministers, lay-readers, evangelists and their congregations came from all over the Diocese. The Mothers’ Union, Kenya Anglican Men’s Association and various other organisations were out in force to celebrate this special day. It was a big occasion, and they estimated that about three thousand people attended.

I got to the cathedral a couple of hours before the service was due to start, and only just managed to get a seat inside – people arriving after were seated outside in marquees, or sought shade under the surrounding trees. Everywhere you looked there were people. It was nice to be able to be part of this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ (as the bishop put it), opportunity to see a cathedral consecrated. It certainly had a different focus to the often commercialised Easter celebrations back home – although I have to admit I did get a packet of chocolate mini eggs from my Mum!

Many thanks to everyone who has contacted me regarding the best way to stock the clinic with drugs. I appreciate your generosity and help. In essence, the medicines can be purchased here in Kenya, the problem lies in the limited funds that the clinic has available. As I mentioned last month, it is one of the few ways we have to generate revenue, and so it’s a bit of a vicious cycle, with no money to buy drugs, we don’t have drugs to dispense and so can’t make a profit. Bleak as this may sound we did receive a partial solution to our diminishing supply of medicines – it’s a real answer to prayer and I’m in awe of God’s provision and greatness!

We’ve been doing our best with the medicines we’ve got, and writing prescriptions for people to take to the chemists in town. Then Ishmael, the clinical officer, was at a conference and AGM for CHAK, Christian Health Association, Kenya, in the middle of April. At the conference, he discovered that CHAK made provisions for rural health projects that included quarterly delivery of drugs to the value of about KSH 300k, at no cost to the actual project. They had made deliveries the previous week so we’d miss that one, but it would be something we may be given in the future.

I was getting ready for church one morning, and there’s a knock on my door. A guy is standing there asking for the doctor. I’m thinking, o dear, someone is really sick and they’ve been pointed in my direction. But no, he says he’s got medicines for me. Now I’m confused, given that it’s Sunday, it’s 8am and I knew we hadn’t ordered any drugs. Anyway, after a bit of explanation in Swahili and English, I work out he’s got a truck waiting at clinic with boxes of medicines for us as part of the CHAK deliveries! I check he’s not expecting any payment, phone Faith, the nurse, to talk to him on the phone and make sure I’m not mixed up in translation, and work out all I have to do is sign and stamp the paperwork and we’re good to receive the medicines!

The medicines that we got were ‘essential drugs’, things like pain killers, rehydration fluids and anti-fungal treatments. They’ve certainly boosted our ability to treat patients but we are still in great need of a number of other drugs such as antibiotics, in order to provide a complete service for our patients. Especially since we’ve continued to see increasing numbers of patients, although this has tailed off over the past couple of weeks. We’re presuming that this is because it is the time of year when school fees are due, and so families have little money – prioritising education over health. It is a stark lesson on the hand to mouth existence that some people are living in. I can’t be biased and say that I think money for health is more important than money for education. Both health and education are intricately linked and it is good that these get top priority.

Over Easter, my sister, Ruth, was visiting for a couple of weeks. My brother, Mark, almost made it to visit from Uganda, but unfortunately didn’t make it as far as Kajiado this time! It was nice to spend time with Ruth and to take the opportunity to relax, do some tourist things and see a little more of Kenya. Her visit also showed me how far I’ve come in just the few months that I’ve been here – at times I caught myself talking to her in Swahili without thinking! Or she was disturbed by the number of insects, the amount of dust, the heat, the attention of children or being cautious of certain foods – little parts of life here to which I’m so accustomed that I don’t even notice any more! She would also comment about how much we stood out, being the only white people around – again something which I must have stopped noticing ages ago.

So all in all I’m feeling really settled here and things are continuing to go well. In fact they’re going so well I’m sure you’ll have realised that I really won’t feel like coming home! I’m so grateful for everyone’s prayers about clinic, health and relationships – God is definitely answering these in abundance. Please continue to remember me in your prayers, and specifically to remain in good health, for the work of the clinic, for ongoing building of relationships and for me to be certain of the next steps in my life.

Jeremiah 29v11 ‘I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for’ The Message.


Caroline Mansley said Sat, 14 May 2011 07:58PM
Catherine, i can relate to your feelings as i was on a short placement a year ago and stayed for some of the time with Canon Johnson. It is a special place with special people. Please send my blessings to the Canon if you see him, i gather he is working at the Diocesan Centre as Diocesan Secretary among his other roles. Also to the Bishop. I am about to complete my 2nd year at the C of I Theological Institute. God go with you for the rest of the time there; you will find it hard to leave, but as you say, God has our times in His hands. Wherever you may be in the future, you will carry a bit of Kajiado in your heart.
Joseph said Wed, 10 Feb 2016 06:20PM
very inspiring Cathy. good work.

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