Health research in rural villages with U Nairobi med students

Today was absolutely incredible. I have read so much in newspapers, books, magazine about rural Kenya rural villages in other African countries without ever experiencing what they are like firsthand, but after today I now know exactly what at least one village was like.
We left the hotel at 745 and drove for about an hour and 45 minutes; first through the bustling city, then for miles and miles through deep forests spotted with coffee farms, and finally into small villages and village centers with shops and general stores. Kids were walking on the side of the street in groups, all wearing their school uniforms, and merchants were vending fruits, vegetables, coke, food for the farm animals, and other goods as we passed by. About every ten minutes we stopped and a group of students would get out from the U Nairobi bus and then a few of us would get out to join up with them.
I was lucky to be paired with only one person on my own, because this meant I could talk to him the whole time. His name was David and he was one of the brightest people I’ve ever met. He was so well informed on everything going on in Kenya and his knowledge of medicine was astounding. I tried to get as much out of him as I could and we exchanged emails at the end so we could keep in touch. He wants to work on the Somali border at the Dadaab refugee camp (largest refugee camp in the world) and help the refugees there. It was incredible to hear that because I had asked Dr. Wamai when I first met him if we could go to Dadaab when we came here. I can’t think of people in the word who need more help then Somali and Sudanese refugees and me and David were talking about working there together in the next few years to help. I really hope that that comes to fruition but no matter what happens I know that he is someone who I could definitely work with in some capacity in the future. So kind and generous, and absolutely brilliant. Extremely hard-working and motivated as well.
We visited three houses and David asked them questions and we both took notes. He had a questionnaire that asked if they have been sick recently, what they do if they are sick, how do they get medicine, and then also about if they are using any family planning methods or contraceptives, how much they know about different diseases such as diabetes, tb, and aids, how they get water and food, how they clean their water, how do they generate income, how do they spend their money, etc.  It was very interesting to hear the different responses. What struck me most was the fact that birth control and other contraceptives are so widely available even in the rural areas. All the women that we talked to were using them and it was easy for them to get at the village dispensary (which is sponsored by the government.) It was strange because you would think that kind of availability would solve a lot of aids problems, but you have to know that this was in the central district of the country. It is Kikuyu dominated and transitively is the most affluent because of the political prowess that the group demonstrates in the region. I am interested to see what the health care is like in the western part of the country where it is much more rural and there is a more ethnically diverse population.
When I walked back from the houses that I visited to the bus stop to catch my bus back, I walked past the school, where about a hundred children came running out yelling muzungu (swahili for white person) and pointing at me. They were freaking out!! It was like I was the president of the country, they were lining up on the fence fighting one another to get closer to me it was a very awkward situation, and kind of a funny experience. I met this kid Carlson near the bus stop he lives in Nairobi and is going to come to our hotel to watch the Champions League Championship game on the 28th. I got his phone number and we texted today which was kind of cool.
Tomorrow we are going to an elephant and giraffe park which will be really cool, I’ll be sure to take a lot of pictures. It’s almost 11 right now so I am going to get to bed but I will probably try to get my videos on here once more before I go to sleep… Night everyone!
-Sam
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Health research in rural villages with U Nairobi med students

6 thoughts on “Health research in rural villages with U Nairobi med students

  1. Sounds like a great start brothaman. So happy for you, keep us all updated and make sure to take as many pictures as possible when you travel outside of Nairobi.

    1. Thanks stork, ill give you a call soon, if you have started the internship I hope its going well big dogg. The Dadaab thing is legit, me n you should come back here and work with David for a few months. You would love this kid hes so smart and extremely motivated. All he wants to do is help people that need it, just like you do. And you’d get to work with Somali people finally which I know you’d love.. deuces

  2. Mary Manning says:

    i dont know why my earlier comment didnt post but I said that the way you describe this makes it like we can get a great picture in our mind of what is it really like. I love hearing about all of it especially the women and children. Good luck getting thevideo working, that will be great to see.

  3. kathryn forts says:

    Ah this sounds amazing. I am so proud of you sam. Keep filling us in on everything you see. I can’t wait to watch your videos and see pictures to really get a feel of what it’s like! Love and miss you!!

  4. Jack Manning says:

    Sam sounds incredible! I’m so glad you were able to pair up with a kid like David who seems to share much of the same intrests with the Country and its people as you! How was the elephant park ?
    Watching the Champions League Championship over there should be a great experience in itself!
    Keep in touch – so proud of you “muzungu”!
    Love – Dad

  5. kathy bollerud says:

    Sounds great, Sam! Isn’t it amazing how accessible the world is AND that you really are able to be helpful! Keep up the writing. You should think about applying to Nicholas Kristof’s annual contest (NYT corresponndent). He take a college aged kid on his travels and asks them to blog. You are a good writer, he’s love your stuff.

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