It’s Sunday at 7am in Mikinduri, and Ken and Caroline have already laid us a wonderful breakfast in the courtyard. The rest of the group are still sleeping soundly. I suspect the Malaria medication is the cause of my insomnia since I arrived in Kenya.
The roosters are calling, hens scratching the ground, it’s starting to warm up already and the roar of the sound of the motorbikes can be heard in the town. Soon the sounds of the services at the various churches will be heard over the loudspeakers. I spent Sunday to Friday at the Chaaria Hospital, which is served by Brother (Dr.) Beppe Gaido and his fellow brothers of St. Joseph of Cottolengo. It is an Italian Mission Hospital, and there is also a community of sisters that assist them in their work. There are male, female, and children’s ward, a maternity unit, also a male disability section where the residents are affectionately known as “the boys.” There is a physiotheraphy and occupational theraphy in this section and some of them make jewellery. There is also a form on the hospital compound, with many banana and mango and other fruit trees. Also, pigs, cows, and calves. The brothers and sisters show their own vegetables when our MCOH group arrived at the hospital that first Sunday, when the outpatient department was full of people and children. Also just 20-30 minutes ahead of us, 3 Italian volunteer doctors arrived: Christiana, who is in his 1st year of neurosurgery residency and Jessica and Veronica studying for exams to enter hematology and pediatric programmes. It wasn’t uncommon for Barry and I to see the 3 of them studying on the veranda in the evening after a long, busy and hot days in the wards and theatre (OR in Canada). Our hours are 8am to 6pm, helping out in any way we can with Dr. Beppe and his dedicated team of Kenyan doctors, nurses and other auxiliary staff, me in a very limited way as it’s been 30 years since I did any nursing, but feeding and tending to the basic need of the patients did not require and expert skills on my part. I assisted on the male and female wards-medical, surgical and orthopedic patients are all in the same area. Depending on the need (which is great), the beds are sometimes pushed very closely together with hardly space to get between them. One man told me he had been to several clinics and a hospital before being a patient here. The patient in need of care is turned away at Chaaria. The founder of The Brothers of Cottolengo in Italy dedicated his life to serving the poor and the disabled, and the compassionate care of the most vulnerable and needy continues today and every day in the hands of Brother (Dr.) Beppe and his staff at the “Little House of Divine Providence”—Chaaria Hospital. There are doctors and nurses from Italy that volunteer their time and expertise at the hospital staying 2-3 weeks at a time, other times only Dr. Beppe on His own. He and his staff do a wonderful work with very limited resources.
When Libby and our driver Paul came to pick me up on Friday, I could not find Barry and I asked one of the nurses to tell him I was going to Mikinduri. I obviously did not explain myself very well as he told me later that the message he got was “Your wife has left you!”
Dropping Libby at the Polytechnic, where Keilah was helping students with the making of the charcoal press and Peter and Brady were modifying wheelchairs, Paul continued to a village to wait for Janelle and Angie who were out in the community doing home visits. I wandered down in the local market, which was very lovely and busy, passing many tailoring, dress making and many other various little shops along the way.
Paul eventually got us all home safely, driving slowly and expertly on the rough, stony, multi-rutted (if such word!) clay roads. I’m often reminded of the well-known Irish song, “The Rocky Road to Dublin”!
Germano, the owner of the guest house where we are staying, was gracious in welcoming me, then turned to Libby and remarked, “I think she is old like me!” Many remember our daughter Nora, who was here with the team last year. Everyone is very friendly and thanks us for being here.