Emily Returns   Leave a comment

(Note: ‘Emily’ and her grandmother have granted me permission to share their story on this site)

In two previous posts (“Sometimes, when there’s nothing to do” and “Rounding With The Pediatrics Team”) I described my interactions with a young patient who I have referred to as Emily.  This week, she returned to the hospital for follow-up of her seizure disorder.  Medically, she is improving dramatically.  Her medications have reduced the frequency of her seizures and with additional adjustments to her dosing, we hope to eliminate them completely.  She again was accompanied by her grandmother who is her sole caretaker since the death of her parents.  Now that Emily’s medical condition was coming under control, my conversations with the grandmother turned to other aspects of her life.  I was surprised to learn that they are currently living in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp.  These camps were constructed by international aid groups following the political violence referred to here as ‘the clashes’.  Around new years 2008, the current president Mwai Kibaki, announced that he had won an election that he was strongly predicted to lose.  People from his tribe became targets of brutal street violence that lasted over 2 months resulting in the killing of hundreds of people.  The fighting shut down the IU/Kenya partnership for a time.  It also displaced thousands of people from their land including Emily and her grandmother.

The camps include row upon row of tightly packed tents where food and water are distributed.  Attempts are made to place these people back in their native lands or resettle them to new parts of the country.  Unfortunately, many people are still living in these camps over a year after the clashes.  From what I have learned, some people are there due to an inability to find or afford a new place to live.  Others have become accustomed to the convenience of clean water and food delivered by trucks and have chosen not to leave.  Aid organizations are beginning to cut off supplies to these camps in an effort to discourage the latter group.  Emily’s grandmother is in her 80’s and does not seem thrilled by the notion of starting a new life for herself.  She is, however, intensely interested in seeing her young granddaughter gain access to a stable life.  Emily currently attends a school in the IDP camp that functions more as a day care than a true school.  Before the clashes, she was one of the top students in her class.

I have begun discussions with Emily’s social worker to try and find solutions to some of the many obstacles facing her.  We will travel to the IDP camp soon to access her current situation and discuss the available alternatives.  It may not be possible to solve any major issues for her before I have to leave, but at least we can start the gears in motion.  I will continue this story as additional progress is made.


Posted May 20, 2009 by chrislux in Travel

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