Settling In!

Catherine1 Posted by Catherine McKnight on Mon, 31 Jan 2011 | 5 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

I have arrived safely in Kajiado and am settling in really well. The journey here was fine with flights on time, baggage arriving in one piece and a nice welcoming party for me at Nairobi airport. They had a sign saying ‘Dr Catherine, Kajiado’. So that’s me – for the next few months – Dr Catherine in Kajiado!

I remember being in Kenya in the Summer of 1999, in the Kenyago! META, so I had an idea what to expect. Since then, the vehicles are the same, but the roads are better – much better in places. To be honest, I hadn’t much recollection of Kajiado itself as the team had been based in Isinya – about twenty minutes down the road. We had visited Kajiado maybe once, but there’s been a lot of development here since then.

I’m based in the Anglican Church Kenya (ACK) compound. On site there’s the guest house, my house, the guest house kitchen and dining hall, the diocesan offices, the old cathedral building, the new cathedral, the rectory, the Health for All clinic and a couple of building sites – one an extension to the guest house and one new offices and halls.

Everyone has been very welcoming and they have gone out of their way to make sure I have what I need and more. This has been a great blessing in settling in quickly and feeling at home. My house is even better than I hoped for – I have running water, electricity, a flushing toilet, and even a shower – that will have warm water once it’s fixed! Initially I was having my meals in the guest house dining hall, but gradually I’ve acquired a gas stove, kitchen equipment and even a fridge so I’m starting to cook for myself. The guest house chef has been great at teaching me how to make the local cuisine, and I’m now able to make chapatis and ugali.

Work in the clinic has started off well. Having been working in paediatrics for the past six years, I felt a bit apprehensive about working with adults again. The work is a comparative to being a GP with some minor injuries/ walk-in complaints. I’m gradually getting used to working with ‘big people’ as well as kids again. Largely due to the support of the others working in the clinic who tirelessly translate for me, and remind me again and again what antibiotics we use for brucellosis and typhoid – diagnoses I haven’t made back in my UK practice!

The clinic is open every day of the week, although I am working Monday to Saturday. It is variable the number of people who we see – Monday and Wednesday (market day) tend to be our busiest days. Some days the whole town has its electricity turned off which limits what we can actually do – most of our diagnoses rely on blood tests that we need electricity to process. Although when the electricity goes off, it goes off for everyone so people know we’ve no power and tend not to come as they know we can’t do a great deal for them.

Some of the drugs are the same and some are different. They also tend to be in different preparations or doses from what I’m used to prescribing so I have to be a bit careful. Although I am getting there slowly. Again with a great deal of patience and support from the people I’m working with – Ishmael, the clinical officer (almost the equivalent of a doctor but not quite – they are used widely throughout Africa where doctors are scarce), Vivianne, the lab technician, Faith, the nurse, and Alice, the receptionist/ cleaner/ pharmacy dispensary/ payment clerk. It’s a nice environment to work in and everyone helps each other out.

I am learning Swahili reasonably quickly. People are really keen to teach me, and patient repeating things in both Swahili and English. I’m even catching a smattering of Maasai as I go along, although I’m concentrating my efforts on Swahili. One of the first things I was taught was to say the grace, and ‘Head and shoulders, knees and toes’ – sung to a different tune that the version I know, but essential all the same for learning basic anatomy for my clinic consultations!

The Kajiado Cathedral congregation have been really welcoming and I’m enjoying getting to know people. The cathedral has three services on a Sunday morning – English, Swahili and Maasai. It has been good to find some familiarities in worshipping and church with the liturgy and some hymns the same. Even hymns sung in Swahili have often been translated from English; particular favourites seem to be ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ and ‘What a Friend I have in Jesus’.

So that about sums up my progress so far. I can’t believe the first three weeks have flown by so quickly. Thank you for all your support to date – both prayerful and financial – I’ve been overwhelmed by people’s generosity, and I have certainly felt God’s blessings with protection in travelling, good health, settling in and learning the language. Please continue to remember me in your prayers, specifically that I continue to feel at home here, for health and protection and that my Swahili improves day by day.


Becca said Mon, 31 Jan 2011 08:48PM
Sounds amazing! You are so amazing. I loved reading this xxxxx
Elva Stevenson said Tue, 01 Feb 2011 01:18PM
Catherine. Thank you so much for keeping us updated on your progress. Glad things are going so well so far. We have a small prayer cell that meets on a Tuesday afternoon so we will be remembering you today and weekly. Take care and God bless. Elva
Andree said Tue, 01 Feb 2011 04:17PM
Great to hear you are settling in well. Your mum keeps me updated. This is the first chance I have had to look at your blog as I have a new laptop - my daughter Kareb has moved to a new flat and taken the computer with her in exchange for her new laptop! Sounds good but I have to get used to this new technology!! My prayer cell meets Thursday night and we shall be remembering you. Bye for nowx
sue booth said Wed, 02 Feb 2011 07:21PM
Yo have always been Dr. Catherine to us! Lovely to hear what you are doing and to know how exciting it all is. Praying for you regularly and keep thinking of you Love Sue and Rob
Tracey Booth said Fri, 11 Feb 2011 08:17PM
Hi Catherine! So good to hear how you are getting on and all the things you have been up to and learning so far while in Kenya. Are you keeping well? What is the weather like there? I am sure its a lot warmer than here altho its been very mild the past couple of weeks and signs of spring being on its way are apearing which is lovely! We are all well. Benjamin doing ok at nursery altho still sometimes finding it hard when I leave him, but he seems to have a good time after that and comes out full of it! He has just decided to potty train so thats all good fun, but having said that he seems to really have got the hang of it already as he has wanted to go straight in to pants and today is the 3rd day, and no accidents yet! He is very pleased with himself! I have been painting Benjamins new room every spare minute I have - mainly when Ben is at nursery! So it is taking a while but I hope to have him in there by the end of this month. I showed him his room when I had painted one of the walls a bright blue, he looked and it and said 'Mummy, its WONDERFUL!' and repeated it a second time! I was quite taken a back and touched! Jed is fine, working hard and at Youth group tonight, as it's Friday. It is going well with mainly 18 there most Fridays which is good. Anyway, I must go but keep in touch and I will keep posted on your blog of how you are doing. Take care, lots of love to you. Will keep praying for you. Tracey. xx

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