A Travellerspoint blog


Masai Mara

rain 17 °C
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It is hard to believe that it was already a week ago that I left Kenya! However, I figured that I should retrospectively write one last brief entry on my final weekend in the country. I think this entry will mostly consist of photos, because words really can't do justice to capture some of the natural wonders that I was lucky enough to have seen on my safari in the Masai Mara game reserve. I left Migori by bus on Saturday morning and after a full day of travel, arrived at the camp in Masai Mara that evening. I was placed in a group with 8 other tourists, ironically all solo travelers like me. We were able to go on a brief hour game drive that night to get a taste for it. We saw animals such as impala, topi, wildabeast, zebra, giraffes, and vultures. The next day we all woke up bright and early so that we could head out into the park for a full day game drive (7am-5pm). We were extremely lucky on our tour as we were able to see some rare sights including a leopard in a tree, a pair of young lions feeding on a buffalo, and the largest type of antelope called eland (notorious for being shy). Some of the other animals we saw that day included hippos, crocodiles, elephants, buffalo, ostriches, a cheetah, and a python. The following day we woke up at 5am so that we could have a short morning game drive before packing up and leaving camp. The early rise was worth it though as we were lucky enough to see a black rhino! With only 6 in the entire park, it is pretty rare for a safari group to get to see them. They are actually surprisingly ugly; like big pigs with huge nostrils and horn. That morning we also saw a cheetah stalk and kill a young cow. So cool! By the way, did you know that "safari" is the Swahili for "journey"?
After the early morning game drive on Monday we had a quick breakfast, loaded our luggage into the van, and then walked to the nearest Masai Village for a tour. We had to pay 1000 shillings to get in, but the money went to the local school at least. The men in the village all came out and performed a traditional Masai song and dance for us, which more or less consisted of men in bright orange and red sarongs chanting in deep gutteral tones and jumping up and down. They then proceeded to split us up into small groups and showed us inside their houses. The buildings are small and simple, made from a mixture of mud and cow dung. The houses are built in a large circle with all of the village's cattle kept in the middle of the ring of houses. Traditionally the Masai people are a pastoral community, and will take their herds of cows or goats out to graze during the day and then return them to the village at night. At the end we had the opportunity to purchase some of their handmade beaded jewelry that they are famous for, and then we were all on our way for a long day of driving back to Nairobi (and to the airport for me sadly).

Posted by andyguebert 21:54 Archived in Kenya Tagged safari mara masai Comments (2)

Final Week

30 °C
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Unfortunately, I am writing this entry retrospectively from Canada as I was having issues with the internet my last week in Kenya. Also unfortunately, I missed my last week of rotation at the hospital due to personal health issues. In a way though, it was a learning experience in itself. I developed a large abscess on my face, and for a few days it was so swollen that I couldn't even open my left eye. I think I will even put in a small picture, because it was just too funny looking. But don't worry, everything is fine. The benefit of working at a hospital is that you know so many doctors and nurses who are willing to help you. I got antibiotics right away, and by Thursday I had it drained. Some of my friends got to do the procedure, so it was kind of fun in a way. They made a small incision and put in a gauze wick which they took out on Friday before I left Migori. And don't worry family and friends, I got it checked out once I got back to Canada too, and I have a great doctor managing everything from here now. All is well and it doesn't even hurt anymore.

On Wednesday, I put on some big sunglasses to cover my swollen eye and cheek, and still headed out for a full day of travel and community work! We visited a hospital in Rongo, then went to the largest town in Kenya called Kisi (it has a population of 1.2 million so don't ask me why it is called a town still). In Kisi I was able to find a good deal on mattresses and we were able to purchase 10 single 4" mattresses to take to the orphanage that evening. On our way back to Migori we stopped at a soap stone shop so that I could purchase some carvings to bring home. The artwork was beautiful, and I could have spent forever just looking at everything! In the evening we took the donations to Margaret's home and went for my final visit there. The children sang songs for us, performed dances, and recited poems and Bible verses. It was so touching. They also sang the Kenyan anthem for me and I sang the Canadian anthem for them. Margaret cooked us a goodbye meal of ugali, kale, and eggs and also gave me a large bag of fresh roasted peanuts to take as a gift. The children are all so sweet and it was tough to say goodbye.

On Thursday I was supposed to go out to a rural school to donate hand washing containers with the remainder of money that I had raised from selling my artwork, however since I was having the procedure done on my face, I was unable to go. David, my program coordinator and the director of IHope, went on my behalf. There is currently a cholera outbreak in Rongo, an area relatively close to Migori, so having access to proper hygiene and sanitation practices is more important than ever. Thank you again to everyone who purchased my artwork to make donating these hand washing containers possible.

Friday was my final day in Migori. I spent my time walking about town to say goodbye to some of my friends as well as to pick up a few items from the store to take home. I want attempt to cook a Kenyan meal or two for my family in Canada! In the evening some friends from the hospital had a house party for someone's birthday and also to say goodbye to me. It was such wonderful night and I ended up staying out till after 3:30am! I hate saying goodbyes. By Saturday morning I was already on the bus leaving Migori. Man, I will really miss this place. I can hands down say that this trip was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Thank you to everyone at home who has supported me so that it could happen. I love you all!

Posted by andyguebert 20:57 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Maternity Ward + Community Work

week 5

sunny 29 °C
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This week I rotated in the maternity ward. My friend actually gave birth on Sunday night, so I got to meet her new baby boy first thing when I arrived on Monday morning. He is so cute!! Some of the things I got to observe and assist with this week included normal deliveries (including twins!), vacuum suction for an incomplete abortion, vaginal stitching, a c-section. I also learned to properly set up an IV, flush a line, weigh new-borns, use a fetoscope to listen for fetal heart rate, and evaluate length of pregnancy by palpation. My last day was a bit sad as a patient I was working with had to be induced to pass a underdeveloped stillbirth. Another patient this week had needed an urgent c-section, but it had to be delayed simply for the fact that there weren't any available gowns for the surgeons. Situations like this where patients suffer due to a lack of resources make me quite angry. The doctors here though really try their best to make do with what they can.

On Wednesday I missed a day at the hospital to do community work. IHope Foundation sponsors a few high school students to go to school, so I went along to give out a cheque, and then we went to some rural schools close to a place called Karunga. At St. Joseph's Alendo Girl's Secondary School, I gave a presentation on STIs, HIV, and family planning to a grade 10 class. It went really well as the girls were really engaged and participated in answering and asking questions. I also donated sanitary pads to all of the girls with the money raised from my artwork, so a special thanks to all of you back home who purchased my art.

In the afternoon I went to St. Joseph's Primary School to help distribute uniforms and set up pen-pals with the grade 5 and 6 classes. Back home, a class in Dundurn has agreed to write with the students down here. I read them a letter from Dundurn school, and asked the students many questions that the kids back home had for the students down in Kenya. They are all really excited to be having pen-pals! Most of the students had never even heard of Canada before this! At the end of the day I go to join in a girl's soccer match. It was a blast and the whole school came out to watch and cheer. At the end I was able to donate the balls. I was surrounded by sooooo many students all trying to greet me or even just touch my skin. It was so overwhelming, but I couldn't stop smiling! Playing sports has to be the best way to instantly make friends in a foreign country. I can't believe that I only have one week left. Time is flying by now!

Posted by andyguebert 04:09 Archived in Kenya Comments (1)

Community Health Talks

(rural school visits)

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On Friday I volunteered with a team from the IHope Foundation, donating some items, and delivering talks on health and education to several rural schools. We had a team of 6, with 4 of us adults cramming into the backseat for a lot of very bumpy and squished drives down the rural Kenyan roads. At the schools we spoke on many topics ranging from sanitation and hygiene, to HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and family planning, to working hard in school and saying no to drugs.

In the morning we visited two primary schools close to a place called Rangwe. The first school we visited was called Oboke Primary School and was the sadly the most impoverished school I have ever visited. The walls were made from mud and sticks and there weren't even enough rooms to house all of the students so some of the classes were outside under the shade of some trees. They didn't have a latrine either, so students would have to just go in the bush. There were a limited number of desks, chairs, and textbooks. Here I gave a speech on creativity, community, and working hard in school, and also shared some words of encouragement to the staff and volunteers. They couldn't understand me very well, so I had someone translate into Luo, the local dialect, for me. Many of the parents in this community give up meals just to see that their children are in school. We also brought some uniform donations and a soccer ball. I asked the kids if anyone had heard of Canada before and not a single person put up their hand. Later I was told that I was the first white person that most of these kids have ever seen. I find that hard to wrap my head around! When I was leaving I went to shake one of the kids hands and the next thing you know I was surrounded by a hundred children all trying to touch my skin. I couldn't stop laughing!

The second primary school we visited was called Sinogo Primary School, and had much better infrastructure, but you could still see a lot of need amongst the students here. We spoke to a grade 7 and 8 class about teenage pregnancy, hygiene, and education. We again donated a soccer ball and some uniforms.

Finally our team a late lunch in a town called Oyugis, and then went to two close-by schools: Anding'o Primary School and Anding'o Secondary School. We spoke on sexual and reproductive health to the secondary school (high school) and on hygiene, teenage pregnancy, education, etc to the primary students. We also distributed sanitary pads to all of the girls in grade 5 and up. Here some girls will actually miss school every month because they can't afford sanitary towels. I have been told that they will use things like old bits of mattresses or rags when they can't afford pads. Again, this is a difficult reality for me to wrap my head around. At least now all of the girls will be able to come to school for another month. We also organized a soccer match for some of the primary boys. The teams were given soccer balls and the winning team jerseys (Thank you again to the Calgary Referee Association). When I gave my last talk at the end of the day, they requested to see me play so I decided to try to juggle in my skirt, and probably got the biggest applause I've ever had in my life when I juggled the ball on my head. It was quite comical! Sports is such a good way to instantly make friends when traveling! By the time we left the last school it was already sundown. Our group had a busy, but very successful day! We stopped at a bar in a town called Kisi on our way back to Migori for drinks and a whole lot of dancing. I am now under the impression that every African can dance. It was a riot! :)

Posted by andyguebert 04:05 Archived in Kenya Comments (3)

Surgical Ward

pre/post op

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This past week I rotated in the surgical ward,which mainly houses patients pre and post operation. I also helped out a few afternoons with some septic wound cleaning for a few patients I know in the gyn ward from last week. They are showing improvement which has made me very happy. I wasn't able to observe any surgeries this week, but I got to observe a lot of procedures include gastric lavage, catheterization, and debridement of a very bad diabetic foot (where they cut of excess dead tissue). There was a new group of interns who had just started in the surgical ward as well, so I got to go along for ward rounds with them this week and then share in their workload. They were similar in age to me, so it they were easy to get along with and they taught me a lot. Some examples of patient issues in the ward this week were bone fractures (most caused by pikipiki, aka motorcycle accidents), cellulitis, diabetic feet, osteomylitis, carcinoma, etc. A few days this week there weren't enough beds so several patients had to share. They are small beds to begin with, so this made me again wish that the hospital had more supplies. I was only at the hospital 4 days this week, because on Friday I had a full volunteer day doing health talks to various rural schools. I will write more about this in a separate entry.

Posted by andyguebert 07:57 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

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