Everyone will tell you that Kenya runs to the beat of a different, slower drum, colloquially referred to as Kenyan Time.  In my two months here, I've certainly come to experience this in my daily routine and, eventually, even embrace it.  Yet, ironically, my own time here has flown by faster than I could have ever expected.  As I type away in the Nairobi international terminal, it seems as though just yesterday I was learning the flow of the wards or getting introduced to the HIV/AIDS outreach team. 

As expected then, this past week I've found myself wrapping up a menu of tasks.  First, Zach and I had the incredible opportunity to moderate a panel discussion with some of the founding members of AMPATH: Joe Mamlin, Bob Einterz and Dean Ayuo from Moi University.  The talk was a special version of the standard Thursday Fireside Chat and centered on the past, present and future of AMPATH.  Before the discussion, I was well aware at how involved Dr. Mamlin and Dr. Einterz were in the inception of AMPATH based on a few isolated and informal conversations with them.  However, once the talk got rolling, we had the privilege of hearing these three engage in a much deeper dialogue focused on the core of sustainability, health, and disease.

The collaborative effect was nothing short of inspirational: both Joe and Bob discussed how, in the beginning, there was only a vision for better health globally.  Eventually, they were able to materialize their aspiration through a collaboration with Moi University and, thus, begin the development of one of the first sustainable health models in East Africa.  After an epidemic of meningococcal meningitis and, later, HIV, Einterz and Mamlin raised the question of moving outside of Africa's local means to treat patients.  In other words, by purchasing IV ceftriaxone or bringing in anti-retroviral drugs, AMPATH would be using outside help to treat patients, which by definition is considered unsustainable.  But, as Joe said, with health comes justice and dignity.  They are intimately linked and, ultimately, one cannot stand by watching people die when there exists a way to cure.  The talk continued with equally insightful points and, at times, Zach and I even had to rope the panelists back on task because we only had so much time to cover a range of questions.  All in all, it was an amazing experience and I was grateful to help the discussion.

Fireside Chat

Moderating the AMPATH Fireside Chat

Some of the pharmacy students, Zach and I planned to get the next day off to go on our final weekend trip.  This time, we decided it would be worth the money and drive to experience the Masai Mara.  Indeed, an eight-hour drive (Kenyan drive) both ways was well warranted: we saw some baboons, elephants, lions (many lions), cheetahs and even the rare black rhino.  We almost witnessed one of the planet's most amazing natural wonders, the great wildebeest migration, but the animals got skittish each time they were about to cross the Masai river.  Not that this was remotely surprising: the river is teeming with some of the biggest crocodiles I've ever seen.  We clocked one around 13 feet!  All the same - the Kenyan countryside has only beauty and wonder to offer.  


When we got back, Zach and I met with the Chamas team on Tuesday to discuss final edits for their video.  While we actually still have a few things to fix, the video was generally received well (a good thing considering that, between the two of us, Zach and I have made a total of one movie using iMovie).  A few people have wondered what value making a video like this has for a couple of medical students.  It's a good question and one I've asked myself.  To answer though: molding a video requires a presentation of a project's most salient features.  It forces one to consider the question, "so what - why does this even matter?".  In other words, as Joe Mamlin would say, even if a sustainable project works, is it worth sustaining?  Working through the varieties of interviews and footage for the Chamas project over these past 2 months, I realized quickly how much of an important impact Chamas has made with Kenyan communities.  

The rest of the week was spent on the wards.  A group of 4th year medical students and residents recently arrived in Eldoret and their presence during rounds was much more helpful for learning clinical skills than just being by myself.  I was also able to scrub in on a partial mastectomy with one of the IU surgeons, Claire Burghardt, Friday afternoon. After the surgery, Zach and I met up with the Chamas team at the Well to have our final dinner.  We then went to one of Eldoret's clubs called Signature and proceeded to wring every ounce of water out of our systems dancing. Celebrating was a great way to end our stay here.  The people I've been able to meet, the projects I've been able to work on, the community I've been able to live with - all of it has been so much more than I would have thought possible.  I hope to be back for a 4th year rotation and continue working with one of the most dedicated groups of health professionals I've known.

Posted at 09:52


Post a comment


Latest comments