Where to begin… quite a lot has happened since my last update. We teamed up with Kenya Red Cross and spent a day distributing TOMS shoes to local schools around Malindi. The day itself was quite manic because there were so many children and it was quite difficult to get the correct size but it was very rewarding to see all the children wearing TOMS shoes at the end of the day. I still see many children wearing the shoes weeks after the distribution.
I am still enjoying my placement and my Kiswahili is getting a little bit better. Recently I’ve been distributing school books to local children, HIV testing, assisting with monitoring the length and weight of young children and I joined a five day Polio campaign for three days with the staff at the health centre. We vaccinated 200 children a day against Polio, so for the three days over which I joined the campaign 600 children were vaccinated, and in total 1000 children were vaccinated. The vaccination is very easy to administer, it’s simply two drops into the child’s mouth and then we mark the fingernail to show that the child has been vaccinated; we also mark the door of the house.
Next week Joseph and I will be assisting with the Tetanus campaign which has a similar objective of vaccinating 1000 children against Tetanus. The centre is currently experiencing some problems due to lack of funding, this means that most staff members have not been paid for two months. This is a great shame because the centre cannot function without funding and yet it is deeply relied upon by the surrounding villages.
Saturday was an early start for the VSO youth volunteers! We began putting up tents at about 6:30am to prepare for the Community Action Day (CAD). The CAD focused on health-related issues. In Kenya many young girls cannot afford to purchase sanitary pads. Therefore, when they get their periods, instead of using pads they use other unhygienic materials such as bird feathers. This is extremely unsanitary and can lead to major health problems. We invited 150 young girls from Malindi orphanage to participate in the event. The day began with a walk around Malindi starting and finishing at Ngala grounds. During the walk we chanted, sung and shouted for all of Malindi to hear. After the walk we distributed sanitary pads to every girl, in total we gave 24 pads and two pairs of underwear each to 150 girls. One of our VSO volunteers has been making reusable sanitary towels and he put on a demonstration to show the girls how to make them. So now if they cannot afford to buy sanitary towels, they can make them. At the event we also provided HIV testing and counselling. Overall the day was a massive success and everyone enjoyed themselves.
At the moment I am trying to arrange a link between one of the orphanages in Watumu (about 30 minutes away from Malindi) and a church in the community where I live in the UK. The orphanage has 42 children at a range of ages, I am trying to arrange for the church to send over teddy bears and knitted blankets for the children.
I wanted to leave you with darker example of how Kenya is very different to the UK; the justice system. It is common to hear rumours of corrupt police, or accusations of bribery within the public services. Perhaps this is the reason that many Kenyans try to take the law into their own hands in the form of, what is known here as, “mob justice”. Unfortunately I was witness to one such example of mob justice when I was at a restaurant with some other volunteers recently. We suddenly heard some loud aggressive shouting in Kiswahili and went over to see what had happened. We found a large group of men surrounding one man. The group were beating the man repeatedly with objects like metal poles and tree branches, and one guy even had a hammer. Every time the man got up from the ground someone from the group would kick him down again. He was covered in blood, but he managed to get away. We later learnt that the man had stolen a mobile phone. This is all he had done to deserve a near-death beating. This is mob justice.
Written by Simonne Griffith-Jones