I flew into Mombasa on Thursday the 11th July along with eight other UK volunteers from around the country. When we arrived, the Kenyan volunteers gave us as warm welcome.
We spent a couple of days in Mombasa doing the in-country orientation. We were given an introduction into Kenyan culture and had the opportunity to get to know the Kenyan volunteers before starting our placements. We even learnt a bit of Swahili, habari yako?
On Sunday the 14th July it was time to leave Mombasa and head to Malindi (woohoo).
Our first week in Malindi consisted of some more training; we spent most of the time talking about the issues that affect Malindi such as prostitution, HIV, drug abuse, gender discrimination, improper family planning and jiggers.
My host home counterpart, Esther, and I are staying with a lovely family in central Malindi. The food is plentiful, most of the time we eat beans with rice or we have some traditional African ugali or chapatti. Sometimes we even have chips!
At the end of the week we were finally given placements. My placement is Gede Health Centre in Gede about 20-30 minutes from Malindi by matatu. I spend most of my time testing members of the local community for HIV but I also help out in the pharmacy and I have the opportunity to do home visits to people living with HIV. The most challenging part of my placement occurs when the patient speaks little or no English, communication can be very difficult.
My work placement counterpart, Joseph, and I also help out at Gede special school by assisting the physiotherapists with caring for, and playing with, the children. The children at the special school have very different disabilities, for example some have cerebral palsy, some are autistic and some are deaf.
Every Thursday Joseph and I work an outreach program with the staff at Gede Health Centre to reach members of the community who might not otherwise be reached. On outreach we do more HIV testing. There are four places we go to on outreach, I’ve been to two so far and I’ve really enjoyed the experience.
Every Friday two members from my group of VSO ICS volunteers organise a GCD (Global Citizen Day). On this day the two volunteers pick an issue that affects Malindi and provide information about the issue to the other volunteers. They also organise a guest speaker and sometimes there are other activities. So far there have been three GCDs; one on HIV, one on drug abuse and most recently one on disability.
It is up to the two volunteers to organise activities for the day. For example on the drug abuse GCD we were shown a demonstration of the acupuncture that is offered to addicts as part of the rehabilitation process.
This Friday the topic of the GCD is Jiggers. We are pairing up with Red Cross Kenya to distribute TOMS shoes to local schools in the area to help prevent the spread of this parasite.
All in all I’m having a blast. Malindi is beautiful and it’s no wonder that it’s a popular tourist destination. Stay tuned for my next instalment!
written by Simonne Griffith-Jones