Tomorrow brings a clinic day and I am a bit trepidatious as to what will transpire. Jeremiah (my translator) has gone to Nairobi in search of a spot in Nursing school, so I have asked Andrea, who is a community health worker, one of the elders of the church, a community bread maker and trained chef in Indian dishes to be my translator. It has been about 6 weeks or more since having a set clinic day and I am not sure what kind of numbers to expect. I suppose time will tell. In the days since we have arrived back to Kurungu, I have seen about 10 people who have come to the house for medical assistance of some sort of another.
On Saturday a Samburu man can along with one of the youth in town who translated that his wife was in labour and having a difficult time of it, and they requested me to come see her. Since I was assured the mynyatta was within mzungu walking distance. (meaning less than an hour walk in the hot sun). We walked through brush down winding sandy paths leading around bramble and thorn bushes. About half way there another morani joined us as we walked single file further into the wilderness. It is about this time, 20 minutes into the walk, I had a fleeting thought about whether or not it was a wise decision to follow three strapping Samburu alone into the bush. Now I have never felt threatened or concerned for my safety, but it is one of those thoughts that runs wild with the idea that perhaps retrospect will make what seems completely reasonable to me now,- as an absolutely ridiculous decision if things go awry. However, I laughed at myself my tumbling imagination when I noticed that one of the morani was cloaked in a “winnie the pooh” bed sheet and the other youth had what sounded to be a Sandi Patti ring tone. I felt less worried after those observations.
I soon saw the mama in the distance. She was lying under a tree out in the open. A piece of cardboard under her, her head resting on a broken branch. Three older mamas were all sitting around, and there was a gourd of milk and a yellow geri can with some water. I learned that the mama in labor had been having difficulty since the morning time,- now it was late in the afternoon. After a short assessment and challenging conversation trying to determine onset of labour and whether the water had broke or if there were other complications it seemed that everything was ok, just a prolonged delivery. We discussed whether she wanted to be driven to the clinic in the next town before night fall,- half wondering how far we would have to carry her on a bed sheet to get close enough to the road where Jay could come pick her with the car. The decision was made to wait for 2 more hours to see if the baby could be coaxed out. I walked home, guided again by the three Samburu men. It wasn’t until the next morning that I heard that the mama had a safe delivery. I later visited the mama and the tiny wriggling bundle of baby (ndito) girl. This time the mama was in her hut, sitting upright smiling. The baby seemed to be no bigger than 5lbs, with shiny eyes, curly wet black hair and skin already oiled. I was glad to be able to offer a onesie (although about 5 sizes too big), a little chai and sugar as a gift and some iron tablets and tylenol. I felt a little like the welcome wagon, but the gifts were received with words of thanks and I felt that I had made a new connection somewhere in the middle of Samburu bush.
I am glad for these opportunities, and wish that I could have more practical midwifery skills so that I can be of more assistance than just providing reassurance and basic feedback. I am looking into some courses which might help me to this end. The need for help in childbirth is great,- already I have been called to assist with 4 births. Each time, it seems that there are really few people who understand what is going on and able to assist the labouring mother.
EXCITING NEWS.…Today I had a call from Namagie or Mzee James, that his wife and daughter, baby Esther are coming home to their village in Longerin. Esther had her surgery! I am so rejoicing that this little girl was able to stay strong enough to survive the surgery she so desperately needed! Praise God.
Trips and Travels: Jay is planning to head to Tuum (pronounced Tomb) where there is a missionary who is able to help him fix the car (the clutch seal is definitely needing repair). It would be a pretty big risk to drive the car back to Nairobi on the Northern roads while leaking oil. Having no desire to be stranded come November when we plan to make the 2 day journey to Nairobi it made much more sense to order the car part, have it shipped by AIM air to Kurungu and then Jay can drive to Tuum (about 3 hours away) to have the engine taken out in order to replace the clutch seal. It could take 3 or so days. Some days I wish we were down the street from “Just Transmissions” and we could simply drop the car off!
So if you think on it, pray for Jay and his travels and that the car can be repaired… pray for me and the kids (with memories of the last time he was away and the snake in the house incident, not too far from my subconscious). This time the Swanepoels are also gone,- so it will really be just me and the kids…no backup… I think if the monkeys get wind of this they will really take over, today they braved coming into the kitchen to steal some onions. I will have to learn to use the slingshot. We have been overrun with tons of monkeys who laugh at us while they eat our fruit, and I am not convinced they don’t steal laundry off the line! Last Friday the kids met up with a couple of huge baboons (although thankfully they knew to keep their distance). I won’t get thinking of the mongoose and the other wild creatures… But there are the guards and of course Fred the dog who is a great guard dog (well if that is measured by his affinity to bark at everything that moves in the night). And of course, I am held within the hands of the Almighty.
I think my strategy of giving candy to children who are injured or sick was a good one.. it seems to help the screaming, crying children quiet and serves as a reward for the brave ones who come with stoic faces bringing their request for medicine or treatment. So, last week, when I found this boy lying by the gate, having fallen out of a tree, a knee impaled with 5 inches of tree branch, I thought, perfect opportunity to dole out the gum! What a brave boy, didn’t even flinch during the minor surgery to get all the fragments out. The following days he came for dressing changes with a rotating roster of village children to accompany him, all of course very willing to indulge in a piece of juicy fruit. By Saturday I had noted that his leg was healing so well he would no longer need to come for further dressing changes. Much to my surprise on Monday afternoon,- I have a very familiar looking boy with now a gaping panga (knife) wound. The story goes he fell out of another tree, this time landing on a panga! After a drive to the nearest clinic,- as I did not have freezing to suture his leg up,-he smiled with another village friend accompanying him as they chewed their juicy fruit in the back seat. Now I can’t be sure that it is the gum,- but I have a sneaking suspicion. His mother came to visit me,- and started spitting on my hand. apparently this is a good thing. I was tempted to offer her a piece of gum…. but that could get me into more trouble.
Thanks for your prayers for us. We are always encouraged to hear little bits of news.