|The Mennonite guest house in Nairobi
After nearly 20 hours of flying and 8 hours of layovers, I arrived safely in Nairobi last night. I was met at the airport by Gerard, a driver for World Medical Mission. He took me to the Mennonite guest house where I arrived, found my room, and settled in for a hard sleep. I awoke at 6:00 Kenya time (7 hours ahead of Eastern time) and managed a short bit of exercise before breakfast. Jonathon, the other World Medical Mission driver then picked me up and we made the 4+ hour journey to Tenwek.
If you’ve never seen Nairobi, it’s a mixture of modern urban hype and drastic poverty. Billboards in English advertise electronics, phone services, perfumes, and personal products. Anyplace nice, like the guest house I stayed in, has protective walls, gates and armed guards. Outside are people, literally everywhere. There is not a street that you don’t see people walking along. In fact, in the 4 hours to Tenwek I didn’t see a quarter mile of road without passing someone walking. In the city, people in suits scurry by people wearing rags and digging in garbage cans. Occasionally, we’d pass a private school where the children could be seen in their uniforms – a colorful sight with promises for the future.
In the countryside, the school children were the only ones that appeared to have decent clothing. Sustenance farms with mud huts scatter the country side. Young boys and men herd cattle that are so emaciated you can see their ribs.
Women do the heavy work here- you can see them bent over carrying water, goods or sacks of plants harvested to feed the animals. A few balance them on their heads just like the pictures we’ve all seen.
The driving itself is the craziest thing you could imagine! It’s a wonder we didn’t have five accidents on the way here. Describing it is beyond my writing abilities! I hope you never have to risk experiencing it. But, the one thing that is certain, these roads, these conditions and especially these drivers lead you straight to prayer.
A continuous prayer for safety, a prayer for poverty that seems beyond fixing, a prayer for people who struggle with the simple everyday things I’ve taken for granted nearly every day of my life. My gratitude to God for my birth in America competes with my guilt for waiting so long to care about what I’m seeing.
I think if everyone who’s blessed to be born in America could see these things, there would be no more poverty. You can’t stand to look, but you also can’t look away!
But there are signs of hope. I barely noticed, but there was one two story dwelling that I passed by. The architecture looked very -familiar to me – then the sign explained it all! I'm not sure if the picture shows it on this blog, but it says Habitat for Humanity. It's the only one I saw but it's a start.
I finally arrived at Tenwek where I attended lunch at one of the full time missionary's home. I had time to unpack, get oriented to the hospital, get my internet working and settle in for some Bible reading before the real work begins in the morning - or so I thought. A call from a doctor I hadn't met came to my room in the late afternoon. I'm not sure how he even knew I was here! The patient had traveled seven hours to come here and had waited all day. He'd been seen by several doctors closer to home but his 6 month problem is only getting worse. After seeing him with two residents, I'm unsure of exactly what he has - and I'm the expert here now! I left home 48 hours ago wondering what lies ahead - and my first puzzling patient took less than 3 hours to present to me. So, I'm hitting the books tonight - I have no CT scan, no MRI, no ultrasound, no expensive antibiotics, and only basic lab support. At home, this would have been easy! Welcome to Africa!