Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not Wrong, Just Different

A few weeks before leaving for Kenya I took a course called SPLICE. I have already shared via this blog a few things I learned there. One thing I have not yet shared is the saying "not wrong, just different". Frequently we come up against things in a new culture and immediately think "that is wrong"for example we say that in England people drive on the "wrong" side of the road. Here in Kenya they do not drive on the wrong side of the road but on the other side of the road. This is different than Canada and I have almost got in the driver side once or twice when I am meaning to be the passenger and been confused when entering a traffic circle but this is not wrong just different.
So I have compiled a list of differences that I have noticed, some I need to remind myself that they are not wrong others are just interesting differences.
  • The power here is 240V and the plug in are British style, whenever I have to plug something in I double check the small writing to make sure I don't fry it.
  • People here dress "smart", they are expected to dress cleanly and their best. Last week I lectured at the Kenya Medical Training College - all the men are in dress pants and white tops and the girls in blue dresses, they also have sweaters to put on top which they often wear as well even when its 25 degrees. They look good or "smart" as they say.
  • I need to be more aware of my surroundings when walking, being white=money so I am careful to guard my  pockets, also the sidewalks are not level and there might not be a cover on the manhole that I just walked by. The first part of this is wrong, stealing needs to be stopped.
  • I can walk down the block and buy 2 mangoes, 1 avocado and 4 (large) bananas for the equivalent of $1.70 Cad. This is definitely not wrong
  • Just because you are going somewhere by car does not mean you will get there quickly. I have been walking to and from my practicums about 4 km one way. When I started my jaunt the other day I noticed a large van with 3 nuns inside, when I got to my turn, 4 km later, I looked to cross the road and there was that same van with the 3 nuns.
  • When eating out it is not always a good idea to eat everything on your plate. Fresh veggies are full of bacteria and need to be bleached before you eat them, this is not always done at public eating places, they are washed in tap water, wich is not clean, and foreign guts do not appreciate new bacteria and parasites
  • I may not drink the tap water, I may not brush my teeth with tap water, I may not wash my veggies in tap water  The reason - the above mentioned bacteria and parasites
  • I must plan my bathroom breaks to include comfort - by comfort I am talking a toilet with a seat and toilet paper. In public the options are often not up to the standard north Americans expect. 
  • Just because you are told something starts at such and such a time does not mean it will.
I will end there but there may be part 2 of this when I start work at Tenwek.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Finally an update from Nairobi

So I have been meaning to write this post for a while but life in Nairobi has been busy filled with many new faces, a new home (for now) and interesting experiences. I am looking forward to some time to catch my breath....maybe tomorrow.
I arrived in Nairobi January 4th. I was seated close to the front of the plane and was one of the first ones off. I thought to myself - yes now I won't have to wait in the Visa line forever and I can get to bed at a decent time tonight. Well,I was half right, I got out of the visa line in record time and went downstairs to grab my bags. That is when the waiting began, after about 1.5 hours all the bags had finally been unloaded and gone around the carousel. I was one bag short. So I filled out the paper work and was told the missing bag was still in Amsterdam and that it would be delivered in a day or 2 - which it was. So one bag short I walked through customs and went out to the sea of people holding signs. I looked for the one with my name on it, and looked again  No sign  therefore for some reason or another my driver had not come. I knew I should have sent an e-mail to double check. I made a few phone calls and found a taxi to take me to my home in Nairobi for the next month.
Finally I made it, the door was opened and I was greeted with hug from the Nurse Practictioner who has graciously let me stay with her this month.
Saturday and Sunday were busy picking up a few things, unpacking, Sunday service at church and realizing that I am actually in Kenya and I will be here the next 27 months.
I am living in Nairobi for the month of January. I have had to jump through a few hoops to get a registration to work in the hospital in Kenya. One of these hoops, and hopefully the last, is a 4 week practicum in the hospitals in Nairobi. I have completed a week at the public hospital here and it has been interesting. I have been placed at these hospitals to learn, and to see how the Kenyan system works. I have been paired with physiotherapists (they are the closest thing to an RT in Kenya) and spending time in the ICU. Since I am going through this process to receive a stamp of approval, not to teach them, it had been a little tough. I witness things happening routinely that are wrong and not in the patient's best interest. I try to bring it up gently but if they do not listen there is nothing I can do. Don't worry. I have not seen anything happen that could cause immediate death but just a lot of little things that grate on my nerves.
This week my practicum has been teaching 3rd year physiotherapy students. This has been fun .I am procrastinating preparing my slides, but that is normal for me. The lectures go well, although I have to continually remind myself to talk slowly. The last 2 weeks of my practicum will be back in the ICU at 2 different private hospitals.
I walk by these plants for sale during my daily walk, I call it the greenhouse they grow them right along the road
I am thankful 3 out of my 4 weeks I am going to places close by, only about 4.5km, unfortunately the buses are all full, so I have been walking 9km round trip/day. I have enjoyed the walk and the close up of the people it allows me to see. The last week I head a little further out and will be taking a taxi, spending all the money, and more,  I have saved by walking.

This past weekend I got out of the city with the Nurse Practioner I am staying with as well as her team and the Tenwek eye team. We headed out of the city to a blind school started by the Salvation Army. The children have varying stages of vision loss and you literally see the blind leading the blind. The eye team saw about 150 children while the medical team saw the same children for a quick assessment and handed out deworming pills and multivitamins. A few of these children will be coming to Tenwek for further assessment as it is possible something may be done to restore their sight. WOW what a difference that will make in a child's life.
Eye Assessments

I think that has you mostly caught up I will try to post again soon.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Holland Pictures

Greetings from Nairobi, I am settled in here at a fellow missionary's house and hope to start my practicum tomorrow. Before the excitement of practicum begins I thought I should share some pictures from my week in Holland so here they are.

Mom and I with the traditional windmills

Fun street in Ypres Belgium

Peace Palace Den Hague

A bunker used by the Germans inWWII

Dutch Parliament - Right on the water

The house Oma D was born in

My Room in Nairobi, I get it all to myself

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Boat time in Holland

 So I am writing sitting in the living room, beside some steep stairs, with a canal in the front yard and some sheep in the back yard. I also had some apple flappen and poffertjes today both are delicious Dutch treats that involve icing sugar. This is life in Holland. I am spending a week here in Holland with Mom and Dad on my way to Kenya. We arrived Friday afternoon. The flight was delayed two hours before we got on and then delayed another  1 ½ hours after we got on, then it was an 8 hour flight. It was a long time for me to sit still (those of you who know me well know sitting still is not my strong point).

I called this trip "Boat Time". I have not yet gotten on a boat, and despite all the canals I don’t know if I will get on a boat but still this whole week is my "boat time". During the missionary training course I took in Colorado, a month ago, I learned that before the age of air travel missionaries used to take a boat. Boats took time which had its advantages such as no jet lag, but it also had the advantage of allowing the missionaries to process their departures, grieve their good-byes and anticipate there new life they will soon be embarking on. Now a days one hops on a plane and makes it to the destination 20 hours later, exhausted and still having not processed what they have left nor having been able to prepare for their new life. So spending a week in Holland is my boat, not only can I get over jet leg I also have time to process things. As a bonus, I get a week to spend time with my parents, I will miss them greatly over the next 2 years and this week is creating great memories.

So I will continue to be a tourist in Holland this next week. I have already spent some time in Den Hague seeing the Peace Palace, international court, the Queen's palace and Parliament. I also saw a stunning painting done by Mezdag: a panorama that it is 14m high and circles all around you with a circumference of 120m, the biggest panorama in the world you stand in the middle of it and it feels like you are really in the village of Scheveningen. I am not much into art but this was phenomenal. I have also been to Delft and saw 2 churches with lots of royalty buried in them. They have the old church and the new church. The new church is 200 years newer than the old church with the new church being built ~1400 and the old one in 1256.

So I will end this post now I will share some pictures in a few days but right now my camera is 1 km away at Oma’s (grandma’s) and I am staying at the neighbours.