Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A visit to Bomet and more life

After being at Tenwek for 3 weeks I finally ventured out of town. I left Saturday morning with another missionary couple. We headed to the hospital to get a Matatu (local taxi). We intended to hire a driver who would take just us and not pack the car full with strangers (as is the custom). Matatus were in short supply and we had to wait for a few minutes, a driver agreed to take us to Bomet and wait while we did our shopping but he had two people to drop off on the way. So off we went, two people ended up being three people so there were four of us in the back seat: one in the passenger seat and two people in the driver seat. All in a Toyota station wagon. Why there were two people in the driver seat and only one in the passenger seat, I do not know.

Bomet is an interesting town by our standards, the roads were not paved or graveled just hard packed dirt – it reminded of driving in the field. It has a mix of small shops and roadside stands. I was able to buy a few more phone cards for my cell phone as well as go to the grocery store. When I first arrived in Kenya we did a lot of groceries at Nakumart (similar to Walmart), I was told to stock up as many things are not found locally. Being prepared for the worst I was happy with what was in the store – there were candies (some of which tasted horrible), knorr soup mixes, peanut butter and other things. It was good to know what is available close by. The matutu ride back to Tenwek was uneventful as there was lots of room.

I have been remiss in not talking more about the people of Tenwek. There are two obvious groups here: the locals and the foreigners. Most of the foreigners are American physicians and their families. Some of them are career missionaries, here permanently unless they are on furlough raising support. There are the Samaritan Purse Post Residency people, they are here for two years. There are also the visiting staff who are here for a few weeks to two months helping us out. A small group is made up of people something in between the visiting staff and those with two year commitments, that is where I fit in. The nursing and support staff is made up of Kenyans largely from the Kalenjin tribe. They are a great group and I am starting to get to know them and hope to pick up some of their language. They all are fluent in (British) English, though sometimes their accents make it hard to understand what they are saying. The other day I was in ICU and a man kept yelling "soja", I asked the nurse what he was saying and she explained how he was hallucinating and seeing "sojas". I asked what a "soja" was and she said you know like a police man. At that point I realize we had been talking English the entire time and he was talking about soldiers.  

Many of the patients are from the Kalenjin tribe, this is good as they all speak similar languages (there are sub tribes of the Kalenjin with different dialects). However some of the patients are Massai, easy to recognize wrapped in their traditional red blankets and stretched beaded earlobes. There are also patients from other tribes that are not so visible. I met a girl last week as she was at the hospital caring for her mom, and she shared with me her disappointment that most of the staff are Kalenjin and that Tenwek does not routinely hire members of other tribes. The management of the hospital is Kalenjin as well. Hospital politics exist wherever you go.

One of the great things about being here is I work Monday to Friday I start at 8am, head home for lunch at 1pm, back to the hospital from 2-4pm or 5pm depending on how busy things are and what work I have to do at home. Homework includes all sorts of things: figuring out an oral care protocol for the ICU, preparing in-services for the nurses, interns and residents, trying to figure out how to work the ventilators here and writing up a step-by-step guide. (I am very glad I learned the Servo 900C in school or I would be so confused). I am on call for the rest of the time unless I am away from the hospital but the staff are good at only calling me for emergencies. Anyway, I have enjoyed not working nights and having my weekend off.

Sunday is church. There are two churches at Tenwek, one at the hospital in English and one a few minutes away (I think it is in Kiswahilli but translated to English). I have only been to the service at the church I will venture out to the other one at some point. The services are good we sing a mixture of praise and worship songs and hymns. Our current pastor is away for the month so we have been having others preach. The message is good however at times I find it hard to listen due to the accent and not always understanding the various illustrations given in the sermon. It takes some concentration, something I need to work on. The last two Sundays we have had testimonies by different missionary couples explaining how they came to know God and how he led them to Tenwek. It is so good to hear about others walk with God.  I think I have written enough for now, sorry no pictures with this post. One of my friends back home asked about sending packages to me (no pressure) I understand  thing take 2-3 weeks and letters or flat bubble wrapped packages will give you the least trouble at customs (compared to boxes) my address is:
Annette Lievaart
Tenwek Hospital
PO Box 39
Bomet, Kenya 20400
East Africa

Also a thanks to Shawna who is editing my blog for me, English has never been my strong point.

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