Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, July 2, 2012

Health Project one month on: James' final thoughts

So my four weeks on the health project are almost over. There are only two days left now! Time has flown by, and this blog will attempt to sum everything up.
So here goes…

As the first volunteer on health project, some basic research was needed on the diseases and infections that impact Kenya and the Shimoni area. GVI had a number of resources available and the dispensary was also a great resource, so I was able to cover a wide range of health problems. Particular focus was given to the public health issues in the area: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and malnutrition. This research looked at the incidence of these conditions in Kenya and Shimoni, the treatments provided by the dispensary and what organisations provide support. Overall, this was a great experience and I am very lucky to have been able to speak to the people treating these conditions in the local community.

Jess helps to take measurements at the dispensary
Another important component of the project was helping out at the Shimoni Dispensary. Being a local community health clinic, this centre has an important role in the community, and it is magnificently supported by the local community health workers. A quick look at my duties included: helping with the count of medicines, handing out free mosquito nets to pregnant mothers, assisting the community health talks and teaching the pharmacist about drug mechanisms. Working at the dispensary was a great opportunity; it provided a real insight into the workings of the Kenyan health care system and I was exposed to the treatment of conditions that are almost unheard of in developed countries.

Leading a life skills class on team work

Now there is one more component of the health project that surpassed all my expectations, and that’s the value of teaching life skills in the local schools and taking computer classes for members of the local community health groups. Teaching in the schools wasn’t always easy; the conditions were very different from what I am used to. However, I adapted quickly and it was a great experience – I now feel like I can teach anything, anywhere! The computer classes were equally rewarding. I really felt that I was able to have a huge difference in such a short amount of time, and now some of the community health workers are ready to teach their peers and take a step towards digitalizing their work and records – a great achievement for the community of Shimoni.

James assisting at a malnutrition clinic

It is hard to sum up my experience on the project in such a small number of words. The health project is a great introduction into international health, and I hope that the project continues to grow with each influx of volunteers! Lastly, I would like to thank the GVI staff for their work on the project, and most importantly I would like to thank the people of Shimoni. They have graciously welcomed me into their community, and I will remember my time in Shimoni for the rest of my life.

James Nightingale – Health Project Volunteer

Health Project team:  James, Patrick (Shimoni Public Health Officer), Jess and Christina