Sunday, December 9, 2007


Had a sleepless night last night…the usual wake up at 3:30 am and can’t sleep. Read my book for a while then was just dozing off at around 4:30 when…WHACK….WHACK…WHACK….I could not figure out what it was, it was pitch black outside, I thought maybe I was just hearing water dripping off the roof. I put in my earplugs and could still hear it (every sound is amplified when you can’t sleep). I think I drifted off around 6am, had to get up at 6:45.

I dragged myself out of bed and was complaining to Fanette about the noise and she said go look out your window, they butchered a cow last night. Sure enough, about 50 yards away down the hill, a bloody mess of hunks of cow. The whacking was them chopping the thing up. There was a big wedding nearby on Saturday and they got up early to prepare the food..started cooking at 5am. They butchered a couple of cows, numerous goats, and chickens. Whack, whack, whack…it’s enough to make me a vegetarian!

Very busy week this week. Richard Allen, the Director of the MENTOR Initiative was here. Benny left, and I am now Programme Coordinator, responsible for the entire programme! I helped Richard with a 2-day Clinical Training workshop. There were health workers from all seven health facilities in the District there. We provided information on diagnosis and case management. We taught them how to use RDT (rapid diagnostic tests – can diagnose malaria with a fingerprick and 15 minutes and require no special storage) and treatment of malaria using the government’s treatment protocol. They use Coartem, a dual therapy based on Artemesinin, a plant grown in Asia. Malaria resistance to monotherapies means that other drugs are ineffective. Unfortunately, most people do not go to doctors when they are sick. They go to herbalists or go to the drug shop in the market and buy what is available, which is usually a monotherapy drug, often counterfeit, expired or otherwise useless.

After the training we distributed the RDTs to the seven clinics. People are very grateful for these – the usual means of diagnosing malaria is to take a blood smear and examine it for parasites. This requires a skilled microscopist and a good microscope. The other method is to simply treat everyone with a fever as if they had malaria. This is a huge waste of drugs because obviously there are other diseases that cause fevers. So, everyone is happy to have a better diagnostic tool. It also allows faster diagnosis, critical in severe malaria. A kid can be fine in the morning and be dead by evening, so rapid diagnosis is very helpful.

So nothing but work this week, even this morning, didn’t get to rest, went with Richard to Kismu to meet the Director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute before Richard flew to Nairobi.

It seems that the rainy season has started. At 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, to be precise. It has rained on and off since then, heavy thunderstorms and pounding rain. It’s gone from being nose-irritating, skin-covering dry dust to soggy chocolate pudding mud. Cars slip and slide through it like they are on ice. Glad we have 2 4-wheel drive landcruisers, we need them. Fanette and I are going to the Masai Mara for 4 days over Christmas. We have to be back on 26th because elections are on 27th and we do not want to be traveling that day. I hope I’ll finally see leopard and hopefully cheetah, neither of which I have ever seen. Our driver, Joseph, a lovely man who was a safari guide for years, is helping us to set it all up. It will be nice to have a few days off.

That’s all for now, will try to post some pictures of our house etc if the internet cooperates!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Laura -
I shared your site with everyone here at school. Katherine is now home for break, and was talking about you last night - apparently her advisor at App is "almost as cool as Ms. Hendrix." High praise, indeed. Your adventures sound fascinating - I enjoyed catching up. Keep us posted, and we'll look forward to seeing you once you come back home!
Terri O.

Joe Mintz said...

Hey mzungu,

Sorry you had so much trouble sleeping. I have a similar problem, only I just don't have time to sleep. Everything sounds amazing- I seriously wish I could be there right now instead of studying for exams, but first things first. I have to say your blogs are a great form of procrastination. I hope you are doing alright, and hope to talk to you soon. Keep in touch!

-Joe Mintz