Sunday, July 27, 2014

3 blog posts in 1

So July has been a busy month with lots happening that makes for interesting reading but no time for writing, I’m finally catching up as I am starting 1 ½ weeks of vacation. I am currently in Nairobi and later tonight will be heading to the airport to see family in Holland. Anyway here is a three for one blog deal

I Lied

So I have said before that I am the only RT in Kenya – I’m sorry I lied. About a year ago I met another RT, a Kenyan lady who trained in the US and then returned home to Kenya to work. She tracked me down via this blog. We met for supper one day and chatted about everything RT related. It was great to talk “shop”. Then a few months ago while in Eldoret (read about that trip here) the neurosurgeon told me there was an RT who worked in Eldoret. I filed this knowledge away and thought – really three of us in Kenya. My next thought was how do I track this fellow down. I met some nurses who had done ICU training in Eldoret and they again confirmed – yes there is a guy who is an RT in Eldoret. Now I really wanted to track him down.
Back in 2011 I worked at Tenwek with a nurse who since moved to Eldoret, so I tracked down his number, called him, reminded him who I was and asked him for this RT’s number. He was happy to help. So now we finally connected, a brief conversation on the phone was the beginning. Now that I knew there was three of us we needed to have a meeting.
It took some organizing to get all three of us together – wait make that four of us. The fellow in Eldoret knew a fourth RT. So we met up in Nakuru for an afternoon of chatting and planning. To all meet was great. To know we were not alone. M from Eldoret has been here the longest – since early 2010. So saying I was the only RT back then was a lie. The other two ladies have arrived in the last year and are looking for jobs. We sat around the table sharing challenges of working here and where we see the profession going. We decided it would be a good idea to create an association so we are working on creating the Kenyan Association of Respiratory Therapists (KART) – makes for a fun acronym, when I created the Facebook group Facebook wanted to associate it with MarioKart. Anyway I am excited for the future of respiratory therapy in this country, and may have more updates to come.
4 RT's in Kenya
Drivers License
Driving is something normal for most Canadians. You turn 16 and away you go ; your license gives you freedom. Driving here is a little different and not something I have yet had the opportunity to do here in Kenya but a few weeks ago I took a step in the right direction and got my driver’s license.
                This was something I planned to do a year ago but did not think was possible. I was told before I got my license I would need a work permit. That did not come through until about October (I think). However also to get my license I thought I needed an international licence which, in Kenya, expires after 6 months. Since my work permit took 9 months the international license had expired. Therefore I thought I was out of luck unless I wanted to take the driving test and I really did not want to do that. But than a few months ago I got some good news since Kenya and Canada are both part of the commonwealth they would recognize my Canadian license to get a Kenyan license. Yay.
                So while I was in Nakuru for the above mentioned meeting I went to get my licence. It went something like this. Got dropped of outside of building and go up five flights of stairs to KRA (Kenya Revenue Agency) office. There is an elevator but I was told it often was broken, since I did not want to get stuck in elevator I took the stairs. Upon arrival in office, I saw random people lining/gathering in various places and I had no clue where I was to go. I talked to a security guard who points me to a desk so I joined the line/mob and finally get to see the lady. She looked at my papers and told me I need photocopies. Before coming I had photocopied what I thought I needed but apparently I needed more. So I went down 5 flights of stairs where I got photocopies done. I then ran across the street to buy a pen as the one in my purse disappeared and I did not think I would find one upstairs. The stationary shop was excited when I walked in to buy a pen and started showing me all these fancy pens. They were disappointed when I told them I wanted a normal one.
                Pen in hand I went back up flight of stairs and filled out the form then joined the line – security had turned it into a more organized line at this point. Got to front of line and gave my passport, ID card, Canadian driver’s license and form to lady. She dropped it in a pile and told me to sit. Sitting and making sure my pile of documents did not disappear I was called up again. Now I was told to pay 700ksh. I reached for my wallet and she said no not here, you have to pay at the bank. So given all my documents plus deposit info I went down the stairs and down the block to the bank. It was now 1230 and since the office closes at 1pm for lunch I was told not to come back until 2. Stood in line at the bank, thankfully they had a line just for people like me doing KRA deposits. Now with a hour to kill I went for lunch, which worked out well as I was hungry. Lunch done I headed back to the office, up five flights of stairs again,  and sat in a different line. Yes I said sit. Since it was always a long wait it was benches and chairs that formed the line and you would slide down a seat every time you someone got served. Much more comfortable than standing. So finally got to the front of the line and got my driver’s license, actually I got a sheet of paper. My real license should be mailed to me in the next few months.
Now that that’s done I just need to work up the courage to drive. Have not had a chance yet  but maybe when I get back from vacation.

Mount Longonot, again
Last week I climbed Mount Longonot again. The first time was with some friends in language school, the second time was when my parents and friends visited and now the third time was with some staff from the hospital. Each time has had its own flavour. This time we left early in the morning with the 40+ of us piling into the bus. Out of the 40 some of us, I think only 2 had been there before one of the nurses and myself. When we arrived at the mountain we got ourselves sorted out and climbing. From what I gathered hiking is not a common hobby among my co-workers. When you walk to work most days, do lots of manual labour and have lots to keep you busy hiking for fun does not make the most sense. I heard a few people say we paid so we could walk. That all being said I think everyone had a good time. Most of us made it to the top, even two young girls who managed to go all by themselves although my friend Ann and I gave them some help for the last ½ km.

I have always been impressed about how “smart” my Kenyan colleagues look. Now “smart” is  a term here not meaning wise but looking good, clean, well put together etc. It does not matter where I am I always feel slightly under dressed. Climbing Longonot was no different I had on an old pair of runners, capris and a T-shirt. My friends were beside me hiking in dresses, suits, sandals, dress shoes and they managed to “stay smart” looking. That is a talent I don’t think I will ever have.
Up we go 

After the climb we headed to Lake Naivasha. We managed to see some birds, but no hippos. I’m a little glad that we did not see hippos as we took a boat ride and I think if in the right mood it would not take much for a hippo to tip the boat. It was a fun day and I enjoyed seeing everyone outside of the hospital environment. 

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