Now when my trip has reached its’ halfway point it’s good to tell you something about hakuna matata in Kenya. I’m doing 10 weeks working placement as part of my emergency nursing studies. Here my objectives involve medical, surgical and pediatric nursing. Apart from the hospital work I’ve also worked with an organization that helps for example local kids who live on the streets.
First 3 weeks I spent in medical ward where we had 3-4 nurses, 25-35 patients and depending on a day 2-15 nursing students (both university and diploma). Students took care of the patients very independently (including iv medication). Sometimes their attitude even was that ”you learn from your mistakes”. The system felt very unorganized. People were never on time, they consumed time in wrong things (the morning report took always over 1 hour) and when it comes to asepsis they used same brannulas several times, didn’t have enough gloves or alcohol swaps but still told us not to carry dirty sheets but put them on a trolley instead.
In renal unit things were a bit better but still the sterile procedures weren’t sterile at all. Doctors and nurses have a lot of knowledge but I guess the lack of equipment affects also their working moral. Also it’s a bit hard to treat a patient who can’t afford the examinations you’ve ordered for them (for example ECG) and the hospital doesn’t always have the medication you have prescribed to the patient. If the hospital doesn’t have it, relatives should buy it. If relatives won’t buy it, patient won’t get it at all.
After a week in surgical ward they asked feedback from me. I talked about their way of documentation. Why are they writing that things happened at the ideal time when in reality the morning medication was administered at 1 pm. I also wondered their way of treating and preventing bedsores. There’s a timetable on the wall of the ward where’s also written the times when patients should be turned if they can’t do it themselves. Still I didn’t see anybody doing that. After wound dressing the patients were left just as they were: lying on the bedsores on their back.
Here we have a great team of seven Finnish nursing students from Vaasa, Mikkeli, Seinäjoki and Tampere. We didn’t really know each other very well before the departure but already the night we spent awake at the Nairobi airport made us a really good team. Together we went on a safari to Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara. A great experience that you cannot miss if you travel this far! Then we visited Kakamega rain forest and during our week off we’re going to travel to the east coast to enjoy the white beach and the ocean.
Kisumu is one of the largest cities in Kenya. When you’re walking in the streets of the city center you’ll hear people greeting you (”Hello, how are you?”), calling you mzungu (a word meaning a white person in kiswahili) and staring at you. The prizes of tuktuks, fruits, clothes in the street markets are always higher for you than for the locals. You need to master the art of bargaining.
Greetings from Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city by the lake Victoria. I have been living in Kisumu now for two months and time has gone super fast. I’m studying nursing and I’m doing my practical training here in local hospitals and health centres. I did my placement in child welfare, family planning, maternity and antenatal clinics in Lumumba health centre for four weeks. It was a great experience working there and the staff was really friendly and helpfull. I have had some good conversations with my coworkers about the health care system in Kenya and about Kenyan way of living. It has been really eye-opening experience and I think my nursing skills has improved here a lot. This week I started my placement in paediatrics in a local hospital and so far it has been a good experience, but it’s also hard to see children suffering from different diseases such as malaria, anemia, pneumonia and also severe malnutrition.
In my free time I have practiced yoga and other sports, hang out with other students from Finland and travelled around Kenya. We went to the Masai Mara National park for a weekend trip and it was amazing to see all the animals.
On my Easter holiday I travelled to Mombasa with my friend Laura. We went there by night bus and came back by train. We had really nice time relaxing on the beach.
On my holiday week I travelled to Uganda with Laura to see the gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National park. We also did rafting in Jinja.
This isn’t my first time travelling to Africa and I think for me Africa will be a place where I will always come back. I’m super happy I decided to apply for an exhange to Kenya. Here you are out of your comfort zone so you learn a lot from yourself and you see and learn things you would ever learn in Finland. It’s really an amazing experience.
We have now been in Kenya for 3 weeks and it has really been an adventure! There are seven of us doing a placement in Kenya for Terve Afrikka ry and we are all located in different places according our field of studies and our own interests. There are two of us from TAMK and some other nursing and social services students from other universities of applied sciences. As I will be a public health nurse, I’ve been working in a local health center and I have had a chance to work in child welfare clinic and family planning clinic so far and actually today I started a new placement in antenatal care. As you can imagine things don’t always go same way than we are used to in Finland, but so far I can honestly say, that I have seen or learnt something new every day and gained knowledge and skills that I can also use in Finland.
During our free time we’ve been enjoying hot and sunny weather by the pool and we also did a trip to Maasai Mara national park, where we saw all those animals from the Lion King movie, I am still wondering if the whole trip was just a dream! Kenya is full of beautiful nature, so we are hoping to get a possibility to travel to other national parks as well.
Of course time abroad is never just a dream and the traffic, getting used to the fact that everything is running late and trying to look for daily items from market has given us a headache but so far I couldn’t be happier and I believe this exchange will be a real dream come true-trip! I am also writing a blog in Finnish, so if you would like to know more about our time in Kenya, please visit Kaiken Maailman Matkoja!
If you ever visit Kenya you will hear these two words. They are Swahili and mean: How are you? I’m fine! If the answer is something else you know that something is seriously wrong. I have learned that even really sick patients tell you that they are feeling good. And remember to greet with a handshake!
I have been in Kenya over a month now! We are staying Kisumu City and I have to tell you that it’s been eye-opening experience altogether. I thought I was well orientated when I left but you can’t prepare yourself to all you see, feel and experience here.
Our living arangements are good considering where most of Kenyans live. We have running water, electricity and even wifi (although sometimes more off-working than on-working). Most of Kenyans live at country side at mud houses which can fall down during the rain or at city slums in houses made of sheet metal. So I can’t really complain! But for a Finnish girl who has get used to have an own apartment it’s been interesting experience to live with three other girls and share a bed with one. And to make it more interesting we are sleeping under mosquite net like real princesses because of the malaria risk. We live right in the city center and I love it because at the country side you would have nothing to do beside the work. In the city you can have a break at coffee shop, eat nice meal at restaurant or just shop a bit. We can spent a free day at pool and bath in the sun.
I have been working here with Blue Cross organisation, which works with street children. I heard that in Kisumu live about 900 children at streets. Imagine that! They are hooked to glue, alcohol or drugs. With Blue Cross we have seen real life. We have visited homes where children who are supported by Blue Cross live. They check regulary how the families are doing. Most stopping moment here so far has been when we got to streets during the night. We bought bread to the street kids and went to see them at night time. They say it’s not safe to move around after dark but the opportunity was so unique that we coudn’t pass it. And workers from Blue Cross were with us. We talked to kids, gave them bread and milk. I was really touched by their lives. I hope they can get some help somehow.
Now I have been working at local health center. It’s been really interesting and taughtful experience. I think I have give more shots than I have ever before. I have got a good training about intraventricular injections. They gave them here straight to vein with the needle and give for example antibiotichs as a bolus. I was also suprised about their maternity care – most of the things are free to pregnant women and new-born baby. Next I’m going to work local hospitals for 6 weeks and then it’s time to go home.
Time runs here in Kisumu! I can’t believe I have been here over a month! The experience has been great and unique. I just hope I could do more to help these people here. I think resources I have are so limited.
It’s Africa. That is the sentence I have heard many times during the last month. In a good and a bad situations. It has been funny to realize how quickly a human can adapt some things. But other things take a long, very long time. Anyhow after few weeks here I found myself in the middle of the traffic and I was not even scared. It was just normal, not even a rush hour. I don’t still want to see a passing but by foot I am more than fine.
And actually it is pretty nice just to walk. Africans like to walk but they are doing it more easy-going way than we do. But in fact finnish walking speed would be too much in the heat. At first it was quite hot and I got burned so easily. Then when I got used to the hotness then the rain season and “winter” came. Still Kisumu is more warm than many places in Kenya and I am happy because of that. Last week in Nairobi it was really hailing.
We started our training in the place called Blue Cross Society. It was surprising to see how they were working among the street children. I was so happy to see that there is hope for those cute boys with the sad eyes of despair. The rude truth is that it is still rare to have a chance for better life. There is almost thousand street children only in Kisumu. And the background stories of these kids, wow. One was raped, an other was abused by the step mother. The one who got lost from his mom, was the lucky one.
The people are so friendly. Many has invited us for a lunch. I think the people are the best part of this culture. One worker of Blue Cross invited us to use her kitchen and showed us how to make traditional bread “chapati”. It was complicated but so delicious!
Sightseeing? Yes. Already in the first weekend we went to the Victoria lake and we saw some hippos bathing. Thw wildlife is really worth of seeing and we are looking forward to do an actual safari. But there is animals outside of the National parks too. By the road to Nairobi we should many zebras and monkeys. It was really good decision to take a bus even though it took seven hours. We also saw the biggest tea plantation on the way to tha capital
All in all. I am sure this is the time I won’t never forget. And I really hope that back in Finland I would be very pleased what I have.
Half way already! I really can´t believe it… In past six weeks there has been huge amount of new people, new co- workers and new friends. And lets not forget all the amazing experiences I have gone through!
During the practical trainings in hospitals I have realized that almost everything here is done by “back to basic” method. Everything is written by hand and in the hospitals there are no machines that will do the monitoring of the patient. Everything is done manually. In Finland it is very important to talk with the patient. Here, not that much. And in generally working is not that effective. But during the work shift you will see lots of different patients with different cases. Others are better than the others. Life in the hospitals is rough. In worst case you might have to shareyour bed with two other patients. HIV and malaria are the most common diseases here. There are no resources to care the patients like there is in Finland. These are two very, very different worlds. While I have been here I have seen very sad destinies and felt very bad because I have realized there is nothing I can do to help them. In some situations there just are no words that would fit in. It´s awful. And you can only imagine how devistated I felt when a young girl in Remand home (prison for children) asked me would I take care of her if she came to Finland. That is when I poured the first tears here. And those tears haven´t been the only ones.
Ah, Kenyan lifestyle. First of all, the time. Or actually there is no time or schedules for Kenyans. Most of the time every Kenyan is 30min to 60min late. Except our local teacher, she is always on time. There is no hurry to go anywhere. And Kenyans are never late, they are always on the way. Maybe that´s why people don´t stress that much here. Kenyans are very friendly and love if you ask about their family etc. So learn some small talk before heading here. And be ready to tell (good stuff) about Finland. Okay, food is good here. There is a fruit market close to our accommondation and that is where we buy fresh fuits and vegetables from. Milk products are expensive but generally food is cheaper than in Finland. In a restaurant you can eat a good meal with less than 5 euros. An even if you choose to eat in a better restaurant you get your meal with about 10 euros. Not bad, ha?
Traffic is a mess here! Left sided traffic and basically no traffic rules. Or that is how it looks like at least. Matatus (little bus), boda- bodas (motorbike), tuk- tuks (three wheeled mini cars), bicycles, normal cars and vans and trucks are mixed in traffic. No traffic lights or signs. Or no- one to control the traffic. Controlled chaos I would say. But you will get used to the traffic as you will get used to the African time.
Here comes the best part: Free time. Here in Kisumu during free time I usually go hang around on a roof top near our accommondation or go to one of the pools that are here. Or I just stay at home. Very often I go to run with my roommate Susanna. No, it’s not too hot because of the rainseason. Days go fast here and usually there is always something to do. During the first week here we went to Hippo Safari to the lake Victoria and saw some hippos in the lake. Last week I had a holiday that I spent in Uganda. Huge experience! I went to a safari in Queen Elisabeth National Park where I saw elephants, baboons, hippos and a leopard, and drove almost 2000km by car (well, our driver drove, I sat in the back seat) and saw 10 mountain gorillas in Mgahinga National Park. And I ate red ants for dessert in Kampala. I also had time to swim in the river Nile and do some kayaking there. That was amazing!