My Kenya Journey - Rose's blog

19 February 2016

Rose in Kenya2016Rose Hennessy, the Friends of Londiani Office Manager in Ireland, travelled to Kenya in January to see our work in action. Here is Rose's blog from her recent visit.

What a journey it has been!
It's been a decade since I first visited Kenya and Friends of Londiani has grown so much since then.
On this most recent trip to Kenya I took part in an event called Travel with Purpose which was organised by a company called Out of the Box and hosted by Friends of Londiani.  The event included field visits and a workshop about partnership and change.   It was a great experience and it gave me an opportunity to take a step back and look at Friends of Londiani from outside my usual perspective.
Working in partnership
I’m struck by the strength of partnerships that Friends of Londiani have developed since I first set foot in Londiani.  We now work with communities across two sub-counties, we have close partnerships with village elders, chiefs, communities, Ministries of Health, Education, Water & Sanitation, the Londiani District Hospital and we have connections beyond Londiani & Kipkelion to other NGO’s in Kenya. All of this plus a network of contacts in Nairobi and various donors and supporters all over the world.
Real people and real stories
What does all that that mean in terms of the people there? Well, visits to Kenya always have their highs and lows no matter how many times you visit here and each day brings something different. During a field visit to the Londiani District Hospital I was so taken with how far it has come in the years since I first visited.  Now it has an air of professionalism, quality healthcare and committed, qualified staff. Doctor Shelly showed us around the maternity unit  and shared with us the story of a mother whose baby boy was born in the hospital in November at 28 weeks weighing just 1.1kg. With the help of the dedicated staff and the right equipment, they nurtured him and cared for him and he is doing well and now doubled in weight. They’re so proud of this accomplishment and rightly so.
This mother was in the right place at the right time and the new maternal health shelter in the hospital aims to ensure that more mothers come early to hospital before they go into labour so that they will be close to medical intervention should they need it.  The shelter is almost complete now with just the kitchen/cooking facilities to be completed.  It can accommodate 6 expectant mums and their companions, who will keep them company and help look after their needs as they wait. 

There is still a real need for the support FOL provides
During my visit, there was sad news as a call came into the Friends of Londiani office to send the FOL vehicle to assist an expectant mum on her way to the clinic. The woman was walking from home to her nearest clinic but had already started labour and was expecting twins.  She phoned her mother for help and when the mother got to her the first baby was delivered there and then in a field.  At this stage, John Sawe, who is a FOL staff member and trained in Rescue & Emergency Care had made his way to her and they got her and the newborn into the vehicle and headed straight to the hospital.  Sadly, the second twin did not make it.  But the hospital said that without John’s intervention the mother would also surely have lost her life. 
The challenge is to encourage and educate mothers to come earlier to the hospital and the use the maternal health shelter so that events like this become something of the past.

We have a staff team of 14 individuals based in Londiani whom I’ve had the privilege of spending time with on this visit.  Friends of Londiani has definitely come a long way and the programmes we run with the communities are held in high esteem near and far. Now I'm back home in Ireland and even more inspired by the difference we make.
Thank you all for your support in making this happen.