First Day in Eldoret   1 comment

Leaving Nairobi for Eldoret, we switched to a small prop plane.  We flew at cloud level so our view shifted between towering clouds and green landscapes below.  As night came, the rain began to fall gently on the plane and we shortly landed on the dark landing strip in Eldoret.  A cab driver met me at the airport and we began a bumpy ride through the night streets.  There are no lines on the roads and driving tends to be a freeform mess of trucks, ‘matatus’ which are public vans, cyclers and pedestrians.  The rain didn’t seem to bother anyone and I later learned was the end of a long drought so the precipitation was very welcome.

When we arrived at the gates of the IU House, Sarah Ellen Mamlin was waiting for me.  Sarah Ellen is the wife of Dr. Joe Mamlin and co-directs the program here in Kenya.  We walked around the compound in the dark and she introduced me to some of the staff.  My room door was labeled with a painting of a flower called a ‘red hot fire poker’ that the Mamlin’s son had painted.  The room was furnished with a desk and two mosquito net draped bunk beds.  I had no roommates the first night.  As I lay down to go to bed, the skies opened up and gentle thunder quickly lulled me to sleep.

I woke to the sounds of two deaf carpenters who work on the property and walked around the quiet grounds.  Most of the people had gone to the hospital already and I was to meet up with them at lunch time.  I took a walk into town along the red dirt roads passing countless women with babies tied to their backs, a man in a suit herding cattle, and a vast array of other activities.  Bethany, a third year pediatrics resident, met up with me and gave me a tour of Moi Hospital.

The hospital is a bit hard to describe and I will have to add pictures in the near future.   Moi Hospital is a series of connected buildings packed with patients and their families.  There are no proper rooms, but rather general areas full of cots often with patients having to share a ‘bed’.  The hospital is open air so there are a great deal of flies, but there is a nice breeze so things don’t smell as bad as they could.  When we arrived, there was a choir singing on the balcony for an art show run by the women of AMPATH.  It was a nice soundtrack for the tour and the song is still stuck in my head.

After the tour, I went to spend a little time with the children in the hospital who were joined in the play room.  As the kids moved to play a little musical chairs, a little girl name Emily (made up name) stayed behind and lay quietly in the corner.  I sat with her and asked why she wasn’t playing with the others.  Emily told me that she was having one of what have become frequent headaches.  In talking with her more, I learned that she has HIV and possibly a seizure disorder.  While the other children played, Emily and I talked about her family and she taught me a few words of Swahili.  As I got up to go, she tugged at my sleeve and said she wanted to show me where she stayed so I could find her tomorrow.  She led to a small bed in the corner of the hospital near a window.  She pointed to her bed and showed me where her grandmother sits when she comes to visit.  I look forward to learning more about her on rounds tomorrow.

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Posted April 2, 2009 by chrislux in Travel

One response to “First Day in Eldoret

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  1. Hey Topher (Big Head as Ben would call you)! It is amazing to hear about the experiences you are having! It brought tears to my eyes, Ben\’s too, to read the story about Emily and the rest of the community. It shows how big of a difference you are already making. A small conversation can make such a difference in the life of a child and it is great that you were there for you. You are doing such a great thing and we are so proud of you! We can\’t wait to hear more from you! Sarah, Ben, and Gracie

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