First, I apologize to those of you who keep checking in for blog
updates. After travelling from Washington, DC to Kenya, the
A/C cord that powers my laptop decided to stop working this past
weekend. I was away from any internet access on Monday and
Tuesday (see below) and tied up yesterday so am just now able to
provide an update.
"Mzungu" is a Swahili word meaning "white man" (not in a
derogatory manner, it really implies someone who is a visitor) and
one with which I became quite familiar this week. I began the
week by accompanying Peter Park, his colleague Ann, and a few other
team members to visit four small rural villages along the Ugandan
border. Peter's team is responsible for assuring each clinic
is stocked with adequate medical supplies, including ARVs. In
addition to that task, our team met with
Group Integrated Savings for Empowerment (GISE) members to
extol the benefits of creating community-based savings groups to
financially empower group members.
We departed IU House on Monday morning with a plan to overnight
in the town of Malaba and return late Tuesday afternoon. Our
destination the first day - the town of
Malaba - is 127 km from Eldoret, but the drive took much
longer than I anticipated. I have learned that one of the major
impediments to Kenyan prosperity and access to health care is the
lack of adequate infrastructure, particularly in the nation's rural
areas, and the journey to Malaba only confirmed this. For much
of the trip, we shared dirt roads with motorcycles (boda boda),
tractors, and pedestrians.
Both of the Malaban clinics we visited were crowded with
individuals (mostly mothers and children) waiting to see physicians
or to refill prescriptions. The same situation would unfold
the following day when we visited the clinic in
Port Victoria, an even smaller village located on Lake
Victoria. I heard the word "Mzunga" many times over the two-day
period, mostly from children who would approach me to touch me or
shake my hand. Ann mentioned that some of them may have never
before seen a Mzungu. After completing our work at the clinic
in Port Victoria, our team met with members of a local GISE group
in the home of one of the members. That member, who serves as
the secretary or head of the group, seemed honored to have us in
her home. I have found Kenyans to be very hospitable and
welcoming-our treatment in Port Victoria bore this out.
Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations
meeting: roll call and collecting dues.
Red Kenyan roads.