Medical students join Harambee volunteers


Brighter Communities Worldwide currently have 4 volunteers who are studying medicine in University College Cork and on a placement with us for 4 weeks as part of the Surgeon Noonan student society.

The volunteers – Fiona Murphy, Ciobha O Kelly, Emma Galvin and Chloe Spillane – have been on placement at Londiani Sub County Hospital, Kericho County Hospital, St Vincents hospital Muhroni and at Community Clinics supporting Essential Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EONC).  The girls are also part of the Harambee volunteer team and have been involved in community health programmes such as smokeless stove installations and outreach clinics.  They have had time in a local pharmacy and at CME sessions in Londiani Sub County Hopsital.

This blog from Fiona and Ciobha describes their arrival and their first experience of the Londiani Sub County Hospital ….

Date: 14/06/2018

After spending 7 hours alternating naptimes in the lovely Paul’s Cafe in Nairobi airport waiting on more volunteers to arrive from Ireland, at 8 am our adventure to Londiani finally began. Greeted with a smile from Martin and Co, we set out on our journey with our driver Peter behind the wheel. We spent the entire journey gazing out the windows at the beautiful scenes and it was no wonder we found ourselves landed at our midway Destination Lake Elementia Lodge in no time at all. Gold standard treatment is an understatement when it comes to the welcome and care we received here, enjoying some last minute luxuries before the real work began!

With a quick stop in Nakuru for some last minute groceries, we made it to Londiani by lunch time the next day and the warm welcomes only grew from there. As we pulled in to St. Kizito’s compound a sea of green t-shirts awaited our arrival. All embarrassment pushed aside we were submerged in a singing and dancing welcome ceremony almost immediately. Not the easiest for 2 girls with absolutely no rhythm, not to mind extremely jetlagged! Next we were introduced to the leaders of all the different projects Brighter Communities has to offer and were astounded by all the hard work that was going on all around us. We were lead on a tour by Salim and Judy of the town of Londiani taking in the main sites such as the “stadium” which is a field where tonnes of children were running around playing soccer. We visited the abandoned train station before taking in some traditional refreshments namely Chai sweet tea and Mandazi a type of pastry. Both delicious.

We settled into our dormitory room for the night excited but anxious about the day ahead in Londiani sub county hospital. We were accompanied on a picturesque walk to the hospital by two of the staff of Brighter Communities. Londiani sub county hospital is a level 4 facility, it has 50 beds and only 2 doctors working at a time. Needless to say pretty different to CUH! Everyone was so excited and welcoming to us, we have never shaken as many hands and said “Jambo” (Hello) so many times.

We joined in on ward rounds and then joined in the ritual Chai and Mandazi after this. Entering the ward was like entering a new world, the staff were trying their utmost best but the facilities they were dealing with were less than ideal. The beds were so close together with no curtains or dividers between them. The roof was stained from leaks and the floor was cracked in multiple places. The paediatric and womens’ ward was connected. It is winter in Kenya at the moment and the patients were very cold but unfortunately there are no radiators but patients brought in their own blankets to try warm themselves. There were no monitors connected to any patients which would be the norm in Irish hospitals. They lacked equipment we absolutely take for granted in CUH. Patients stayed in the same clothes and blankets for the duration of their stay. Food is brought in by the patients’ families rather than catered for by the hospital.

Throughout all this hardship the patients were so positive and appreciative of the work of the doctors and nurses. They were even delighted to see us the Mzungus (white people).