I’m finally in a place with consistently cooperative internet, so I have a lot of catching up to do. If you have a solid half hour available, then this blog entry is for you!
We have left Mbakalo after bringing our work to a close–lots of helpful information was generated from our needs assessment, and we have a solid dispensary operations manual in progress. With some building completion efforts, the dispensary should be able to apply for VCT and MCH services and eventually install electricity. It’s all very exciting, and all of our efforts are well worth it when we see how equally excited the staff are.
We said our good-byes to Mama Anne and her grandchildren (and their many friends) and traveled back to Nairobi about 1 week ago. Unfortunately, Easy Coach was full because of children who were heading home after finishing their school term, so we took a matatu shuttle. I wrote about matatus as crammed methods of public transportation in an earlier entry, but matatu shuttles are different in that they limit the number of passengers to the exact number of seats in the vehicle. It was a fairly comfortable ride, especially since we scored seats in the front row and were able to stretch our legs.
Edward, our Programme Manager, met us at the matatu shuttle stop and helped us gather all of our bags. One of my fellow interns has family friends who live in Nairobi, so we were graciously hosted by them for the few days that we were back in the city. They live in Karen, which is named after the main character from the book, Out of Africa, and is (from what I saw) largely populated by wealthy Kenyans and ex-patriots. Our host family’s house was beautiful and very large, and we were overwhelmed by its size (as well as its access to electricity, indoor plumbing, and other things that were lacking in rural Mbakalo).
The Misumis treated us to delicious fresh fruits and vegetables from their massive garden, and every meal was comprised of large quantities of food. A typical breakfast, for example, consisted of tropical fruits, cereal, eggs, pancakes, crepes, toast, 2 types of sausage, coffee, and juice (freshly squeezed). After our diet of mostly carbohydrates and starches in Mbakalo, it was interesting to resupply our bodies with the food groups that we had been missing for 5 weeks.
Once we were back in Nairobi, we became tourists again. Mrs. Misumi works for Nairobi National Park, and she graciously showed us around her offices and treated us to a mini safari in the park. The park is surprisingly huge and located right in the heart of Nairobi–it was pretty crazy to see zebras grazing and giraffes meandering with the city skyline in the background! We also visited the Sheldricks Animal Orphanage, where we were able to pet baby elephants and watched them play and eat. We were surrounded by other muzungu tourists, which was really strange after spending so much time in rural Kenya as the minority.
Mr. Misumi manages the Tamarind Group, which oversees many restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa, the most prominent being Carnivore. For those not familiar with Carnivore, picture an exotic Texas de Brazil. For those not familiar with Texas de Brazil, picture people bombarding you with large skewers of ostrich, camel, crocodile, and ox balls. Yes, ox balls. Carnivore is basically a vegetarian’s worst nightmare, as it centers around sampling a variety of meats with a multitude of prepared sauces. The meat selection ranged from your typical run-of-the-mill chicken wings to ostrich meatballs. I tried as many as my stomach capacity would allow, and I highly recommend ostrich and camel (if you take small bites or if you are willing to chew for a solid 10 minutes).
Our final tourist destination was to Maasai Market, which is held Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays in the city centre. This was probably my most overwhelming experience in Kenya; as soon as we entered the market area, we were immediately swarmed by brokers and hawkers. We luckily had a friend of Edward’s with us (who is Maasai and knows the accurate pricing of market items) who tried his best to fend them off. We made many purchases from quiet Mamas who had beautiful jewelry, beadwork, and weaving and bargained aggressively with the insistent brokers. Many times, they would try to triple or quadruple the actual costs of items and follow us around the market asking us for our best offers.
We saw our fellow intern off to the airport on Sunday, as she is in medical school and starts classes sooner than we do, and made the switch back from tourists to interns. We spent the next few days in the SOTENI Kenya office, preparing for our short trip to SOTENI Village of Hope – Ugenya. We also reunited with Martina (our host on our previous stay in Nairobi) for a two-night stay before heading out; she was very excited to see us and hear all about our adventures in Mbakalo. She was, as always, a very gracious host and wonderful cook, and it was fun to catch up with her (and the latest plot twists on her favorite soap operas, Soy tu Duena and Teresa).
We left for Ugenya on Tuesday, which was honestly one of the longest and most uncomfortable trips I have ever taken. We were originally supposed to take Easy Coach from Nairobi to Ugunja at 7am; however, Dan (who had been asked to travel with us and help us get around) did not plan accordingly and got stuck in traffic, which caused us to miss our bus. We were forced to take a longer, indirect Easy Coach bus at 8am to Kisumu instead, which would put us into Ugunja 5 hours later than we had planned.
Because we had to switch to the 8am bus so late, we were assigned seats in the very last row of the Easy Coach bus; this quickly became a huge issue, as the roads were extremely bumpy. The slightest bump would slam us around and send us rocketing 3 feet into the air–by the end of the trip, I was certain I no longer had a tailbone or a vestibular system. Luckily, the drive (from Nairobi to Nakuru to Kericho to Kisumu) was absolutely gorgeous, and the scenery distracted me enough that I didn’t completely focus on the fact that I was a human popcorn kernel in the back row of a bus for 9 hours.
We finally reached Kisumu, and from there we needed to travel about 1 hour and 20 minutes to Ugunja. My hopes of calling a driver (like we did in order to travel from Webuye to Mbakalo) were dashed when Dan hailed the first matatu he saw barreling down the road. The matatu stopped and the door slid open to reveal 21 people crammed into an 11-passenger van. Panic immediately set in. We saw no room for us, let alone our luggage. Eventually someone hopped out and tied our luggage to the roof of the van with a rope and squeezed us inside. Where there were no seats, a wooden board was placed across the gap in order to fit another person. For the next half hour, we played matatu musical chairs in order to pick up and drop off passengers. Then it started to rain.
The driver’s window was missing, so he spent most of the drive fighting with a piece of tarp to keep from getting wet. Because he was so distracted (and the rain had turned into a torrential downpour), we hit many potholes and huge puddles on the road. The matatu was not sealed well, so it leaked and soaked us with mud every time the driver flew through a puddle. We finally arrived at our destination, untied the rope fastening our (now completely soaked) luggage to the roof of the matatu, and gratefully made our way to Camunya Hotel, where we will stay until next Friday.
Camunya Hotel is a very nice hotel about a 300 meter walk from Ugunja township. It has electricity, indoor plumbing, and [scalding hot] showers. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the little bar and restaurant areas in the back. It’s a real change from what we experienced in Mbakalo; while I do miss the host family aspect and kindness of Mama Anne, I like that I don’t feel as if I’m imposing on someone’s daily routine.
So, Ugenya. I had a similar blurb about the location breakdown for Mbakalo, so I’ll attempt my understanding of Ugenya. We are in a town called Ugunja, which is both a location and a sub-location (like Mbakalo was), but we are in the constituency of Ugenya. I hope to get a better idea of this soon. Also, fun fact: President Obama’s grandmother lives some 30 or 40 kilometers from where we are staying. Everyone here assumes that because we are American that we personally know Obama. I have many greetings to pass on to him.
As for our work here, we have traveled to Ugenya because SOTENI recently applied for and received a grant for a one-year Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT) program from the Positive Action for the Children’s Fund (PACF). Since we won’t receive the funding to start the program until September, my fellow intern and I have been asked to help lay the groundwork and start networking with local health facilities before that happens. So far, we have agreed to form partnerships with 3 facilities: Ambira Sub-District Hospital, Sigomre Health Centre, and Rambula Dispensary. With training provided to SOTENI’s AIDS Barefoot Doctors (ABDs) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), we hope to refer pregnant mothers to these 3 health facilities in order to reduce risk and improve quality of life.
That’s a very broad, basic overview of the program, anyway; we are only here in Ugenya for one more week, so we are working very hard to meet with the in-charges of these facilities and gain their support. So far, it has been very productive and encouraging. The in-charges we have met with are very excited to begin the program and have made great suggestions for implementation.
We are also working on a few more projects that will hopefully generate income for SVH-Ugenya. This has been a bit more challenging, especially since it involves a lot of number crunching, and I am not too keen on math. Our stay here so far has been incredibly rewarding, though, and our Project Coordinator, Calvin, is wholly dedicated to his work. Having electricity as opposed to finicky solar power has also been a morale booster, as we’ve been able to get a ton of work done in just a few short days.
I think that finally covers everything since my last entry. We have one week left in Ugenya, and 9 days until I return Stateside. It has been an incredible journey, and I can’t believe that it’s almost over. I have learned so many things. I hope to have a post-trip entry with lots of pictures of everything I’ve talked about here.
In the meantime, thanks for your patience with my sparsely updated, lengthy entries.
Mbakalo is Mbeautiful
Last Sunday night, the dreaded (and inevitable) traveler’s diarrhea struck. I’ll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say, running full sprint to the latrine every 10 minutes is not the best way to spend a night in rural Kenya. Luckily, I came stocked with Azithromycin and Immodium, and all was well within 24 hours.
That aside, I forgot to mention how beautiful parts of Mbakalo are. Coming back from the centre of the town, there is a gorgeous view of gently sloping hills covered with tall maize. On most late afternoons, you can see a storm rolling in from miles away. The storms here are usually short, but are very heavy and leave the dirt roads very muddy afterwards. It also gets pretty cold afterwards–I’m not sure of the exact temperature, but there have been a few nights where we can see our breath.
Last Saturday, we reached our goal of 120 households. On my last day, the households I visited were extremely lively and talkative; everyone was inviting me in for lunch and tea. One family, who spoke great English, kept me for almost an hour to ask me various things about the U.S. and how Kenya compares. People are always very surprised when you tell them that you don’t own chickens or cattle. Eventually, I caved and sat down for tea and boiled maize with one of the families I visited. It was great to sit and share a meal, and I really appreciated the hospitality; unfortunately, I lost track of time and wound up worrying the others at the dispensary because I had stayed out too long. Patrick, our coordinator, wound up driving out on a motorbike (or piki-piki) to rescue me. He’s still learning how to drive, so it was slightly terrifying.
It was a very interesting week, and all of us encountered some interesting situations. White skin is frequently interpreted as either “that person is a doctor” or “that person has a lot of money”, which brought on some strange requests. One man with missing fingers asked me for a prosthetic hand, another woman began to describe the symptoms of her baby with hopes I’d have a diagnosis. I was also asked for my hand in marriage, 3 times.
Since finishing the household surveys, we’ve mostly been compiling data and investigating ways to improve the dispensary. With help from a local sub-district hospital in Naitiri, we’re hoping to add on MCH (Mother and Child Health) and VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) services; we’re also trying to get the ball rolling on electricity and water, as well as doors and additional rooms. We’re planning to interview people for an additional nurse position in the next couple of days, which will greatly help the dispensary’s Clinical Officer.
Getting things accomplished is often very challenging and [admittedly] frustrating. The greatest virtue to have here is definitely patience, as Murphy’s Law is almost always in effect. For example, when visiting one of SOTENI’s sponsored OVCs (Orphans and Vulnerable Children), we rode in a car for about an hour on pretty rough dirt roads (New Orleans people, imagine an hour drive down something similar to Palmer or Robert) and got 3 flat tires. While the driver took a motorbike into town to get the tires fixed, we muzungus stayed behind with the car; within minutes, we were swarmed by about 30 fascinated school children. To say it was a bit claustrophobic is an understatement. When the driver returned, our car wouldn’t start, which warranted another trip into town for gas. What should have been a 2-3 hour trip wound up being close to 7 hours.
Often, our solar panel does not get enough juice to power our equipment, and though there are charging stores, they frequently lose power. Additionally, nothing here runs on time; if someone tells you that they will meet you at 9, they most likely won’t show up until 11. It’s been very difficult for me and my fellow interns, who are often driven by “Western time” and deadlines at our universities in the United States. Despite the difficulties and frequent disorganization, people here really do mean well and are doing their best to provide for the community.
Mama Anne has been a wonderful and gracious host. I particularly love her heart-warming attempts at American meals. Yesterday, she traveled all the way to Webuye (which is a 2-hour round trip) to buy supplies to make spaghetti, which was comprised of pasta and ketchup (there is, predictably, no Prego in rural Kenya). Nevertheless, we appreciated the gesture, which wound up being relatively tasty, because Kenyan ketchup is not as vinegar-y as ketchup in the United States.
At this point, I am a little over halfway through with my 8-week internship in Kenya, with roughly 8 days left here in Mbakalo. There is still much work to be done, and I will (modem willing) do my best to keep you all updated.
Sorry for the delayed update. Internet here is a bit of a challenge, and my tablet isn’t compatible with the modem we use, but through a chain of flash drives, I’ve been able to put something together. That being said, the modem is extremely slow, so any pictures I’ve taken will have to wait until I get back to Nairobi, where the internet in the SOTENI Kenya office is better.
A lot has happened since my last entry. I’ve only been in Kenya for a little almost 3 weeks, but it feels like I’ve been here much longer. We went on a 3-day safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which was an incredible experience. We saw just about every animal in The Lion King, from thousands of zebras to a sleepy leopard in a tree. Our car was charged by a huge, territorial male elephant at one point, but our skilled driver was able to get us out just in time. The lodge we stayed at was a luxurious resort in the middle of nowhere–tents with full bathrooms, hot showers, and mosquito nets draped eloquently around the beds. Nights at the Serova Mara were pitch-black, and I was woken up in the middle of the night to noises that I can only assume belonged to pterodactyls.
We headed back on a 4-hour bumpy drive to Nairobi and finished preparing for our trip to Mbakalo. Our last night in Nairobi was spent eating Martina’s delicious cooking, watching poorly-dubbed Mexican soap operas, and learning Kenyan dance moves from Martina’s niece, Irene. The next morning, we boarded our Easy Coach to Webuye. Easy Coach is a coach bus service whose slogan is “Experience Dignity”–I suspect that this is a jab at the matatu service, which is an overcrowded 14 (but more like 30) passenger van that is a common mode of transport in Kenya. The bus was not crowded, and we wound up having rows to ourselves. The ride was bumpy, but after 8 hours we arrived in Webuye. Bramwel, a friend of Edward’s, was there to pick us up in his car and transport us and our luggage on the final 1-hour leg of the journey to Mbakalo.
Our stay in Mbakalo is at Mama Anne’s house, which is an impressive structure 15-20 minutes walking distance from the dispensary where we work. Mama Anne has enough solar power to power one lightbulb and occasionally a TV, where her grandchildren like to watch WWE (which has somehow unfortunately made its way over here). I sleep in the bottom bunk of a bunk bed and tuck myself underneath a treated mosquito net every night after spraying myself down with 98% DEET insect repellant. Mama Anne has 2 latrines and a wash room in her backyard, and the latrine is honestly a bit of a terrifying experience. After getting used to the logistics of it, the more challenging aspect is going at night, when a few large spiders like to hang out on the ceiling and walls.
A typical day in Mbakalo consists of a morning walk with my fellow interns to the dispensary, where we are stared at (and sometimes greeted) by many people. I’ve probably shaken hands with more people here in Kenya than I have in my entire 23 years of life–people are so excited to see us, and they are always eager to pump our hands wildly up and down and say a few words in English. It’s very touching. Children excitedly yell “Mizungu!” (which means “white person”) from their yards, and some are brave enough to approach us or even follow us around. Anywhere we go, choruses of “How are you? Fine!” can be heard through the tall maize. We reach the dispensary, which is a very small building with partitioned rooms. There are no doors, only curtains. The horrified shrieks of children being immunized are often the first sounds we hear before greeting Mbakalo’s coordinator, Patrick, and the dispensary staff.
We meet with our translators, SOTENI’s own Aids Barefoot Doctors (ABDs), and set out to perform our needs assessment survey of the surrounding villages. The location of the dispensary is relatively new, and our job as interns is to conduct a survey to see how is performing, especially in addressing the needs of its community. Our hope is to compile our data and use it to improve as well as suggest new programs and services. It’s already very apparent that the dispensary serves a great need, but its cramped facility and limited supplies cause some people to seek treatment at hospitals in Naitiri and Webuye, which are farther away.
Somewhat similar to states and counties (or parishes, for my New Orleans friends back home), Kenya is divided into several levels: national, province, district, sub-district, location, sub-location, and villages. Mbakalo is considered a SOTENI Village of Hope (SVH), but it is really both a location and a sub-location. We have visited several small villages, including Samaki and Lumukile, and the range of poverty has been devastating. We conduct the majority of the surveys at people’s households, some of which are no more than mud/dung huts with thatched roofs. Thin children in tattered clothing and skinny livestock (as well as puppies and kittens) are a very common site among these villages. It’s heartbreaking, and I can only hope that the work I do here will help these families to live a comfortable, healthy lifestyle. Our target is 120 households, and as of today, we have reached 99. We are hoping to finish out the last 21 tomorrow and start analyzing the data. From there, we can determine some good goals and projects for the dispensary here.
Lastly, Mama Anne has been feeding us so much food–I feel like I’m going to come back 30 pounds heavier. Kenyan food is delicious, but very oily, fried, and starchy. Our breakfast has been 4 or 5 mandazi, which are basically like sugar-less beignets. Our favorites have definitely been Mama Anne’s chapo, or chapati, which are tortilla-like, and sukomowiki, similar to spinach. We’ve also had chicken, which was freshly killed, judging by the feathers and blood we found in the yard earlier. It was delicious. Mama Anne takes great care of us, and we, in turn, serve as endless entertainment for her grandchildren and their friends–especially since we are so bad at football.
I know I said I would keep my entries short, but I figured a longer one was in order, since it has been a long time since I’ve updated. Now that we’ve figured out the modem, I’ll update more frequently with less novel-esque babbling.
The past 2 weeks have been a complete blur. I flew to Cincinnati for a 3-day orientation with Randie, where we spent a lot of time reviewing culture, determining assignments for each intern, and packing 150 pounds of donations. Between the generous hospitality of Randie’s friend (and founder of SOTENI), Vic, and the coincidence of some friends living close to the SOTENI office, I had a pretty nomadic sleeping schedule. After my time in Cincinnati, I headed to Cleveland for a few days to stay with my grandparents and relax with extended family before the big trip.
Tuesday and Wednesday were a time zone confused mush. My flight was from Cleveland to Newark, Newark to Brussels, Brussels to Burundi, and finally Burundi to Nairobi. The flight from Newark to Brussels was roughly 8 hours, and the flight to Nairobi was about 12, considering the stop-over in Burundi. I was lucky enough to be too engrossed in The Hunger Games trilogy and multiple episodes of The Big Bang Theory to get too bothered by it (oh yeah, did I mention that I’m a huge nerd?). I was also lucky to have a window seat on both long flights–my thanks to Randie’s travel agent on that one! I would like to off-handedly mention that airport security in the United States would be much more bearable if the TSA agents were even half as attractive as the ones in Brussels.
We arrived in Nairobi at about 10:30pm and breezed through the visa counter and customs, which we believe happened because they didn’t feel like searching our multiple massive bags. Edward, the program manager, and another intern were waiting for us as we exited the airport. They put our bags in one taxi and us in another and drove us to our host family’s house in an area called South B. As somone who already has a terrible sense of direction, getting into South B was pretty disorienting, because we had to wind through multiple gates. Eventually we arrived at Martina’s, ate a delicious home-cooked meal, and were given a tour of her home.
Martina’s home is a good size, and has plenty of bedrooms to sleep us four interns. My current bed is in the top bunk of a bunk bed in one of her rooms. It’s difficult to describe her house, as it is pretty different; there are lots of compartments to it, and what may seem like a closet door actually leads to a big bedroom. One thing I have noticed (and am told is common in Kenya) is the way in which the shower water is heated. An electric heater sits on top of the showerhead, and when a switch is flipped, water that passes through it is heated. It goes against pretty much anything we’ve ever been taught about electricity and water (silly warnings about not using hair dryers in bathtubs come to mind), but it definitely works and is apparently safe. A hot shower felt amazing after spending 24 hours on planes.
We went to bed and were allowed to sleep in until about 10am to get our bodies adjusted. After a breakfast of toast, eggs, sausage, and tea, we headed to downtown Nairobi to the SOTENI office via a cab. One quick observation about Nairobi traffic: lights and signs are purely for decorative purposes, and it basically feels like a free-for-all for pedestrians and cars alike. You definitely have to think quickly and be aggressive in order to get anywhere, which makes me very glad that we’ve left the driving to the taxi. We’ve spent our time at the SOTENI office going over our assignments and setting up meetings with the staff in Mbakalo. Edward has stressed that we “take it easy”, as Africans are not too big on rushing. I appreciate this, as my body is still pretty confused by the time change.
I talked to my parents on the phone last night on one of the cellphones given to us by SOTENI, and my mom asked, “Is Nairobi pretty?” I wouldn’t call it “pretty” so much as, perhaps, “ruggedly handsome”. There is a vibe here that reminds me of a strange mix between New Orleans (where I go to school) and Abu Dhabi (which I’ve visited twice). The buildings are a bit worn, as are the cars, and there is a fair amount of dust and exhaust fumes to go around. I really like it here, though. The people are very friendly and the city has a very interesting charm to it. Additionally, it’s winter here, which means temperatures are 50-60 degrees in the morning/evening and 70s in the afternoon. It’s pretty amusing to see people walking around in heavy winter coats.
Tomorrow we leave to go on safari for three days. I promise to post a few pictures as soon as I get a chance. I also promise to not get so carried away and type a novel for each entry like I did for this one. The packing list is still forthcoming, in theory.
I’ve been pretty busy over the past few weeks getting ready for my trip. Usually, I’m fairly good at packing light for long periods of time. My 5 years of drum corps experience have taught me how to pack for 3 months on the road, no problem. But packing for Kenya has presented a bit of a challenge to me, as it’s a completely different country and culture and I’m not quite sure what to expect.
One thing I did expect was a plethora of needles and medications. The CDC Guidelines for traveling to Kenya contain a pretty extensive list of immunizations and recommendations for antimalarial medicine. My appointment with the infectious disease clinic was this past Monday, and I went in fully expecting that I’d have to get them all. Luckily, I was up to date on the routine immunizations and only required 3 (including typhoid, which is administered orally–score!). My doctor was very helpful regarding travel tips and safety information, and he gave me a pretty big packet to look over.
What I did wind up getting was a tetanus booster and yellow fever vaccine–one in my deltoid and one in my tricep–and they were a bit of a doozy. For awhile, I was unable to lift my arm past a certain point because it was incredibly sore. I also experienced flu-like symptoms from the yellow fever vaccine–aches and chills that usually hit in the evening. The nurse had warned me about these common side effects, so I was expecting them. They lasted about 2-3 days and were irritating, but nothing too horrible. Today is Friday, and my arm is feeling great. In addition to the vaccines, I’m taking Vivotif for typhoid every other day for 4 days and I start mefloquine (my antimalarial medication) on Monday.
Lastly, I’ve started to gather all of my things to pack. I hope to post a page with pictures of everything I’m taking, and I’ll try to provide links to equipment and other items I might have recently purchased specifically for the trip.
Those of you who know me are probably aware of my epic procrastination skills. I’ve waited until the last minute to do just about everything in my life, from finishing science homework to applying for graduate school. You could say I like to live life on the edge. You could say I’m crazy.
Either way, in true Katy Mac fashion, I have found a practicum for my MPH at Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine barely a month before departure date. And man, have I been lucky. After my initial practicum idea fell through, I launched myself into a flurry of internship applications and was fortunate enough to find Randie Marsh and the amazing people of SOTENI International. Ever since my panicked email to Randie regarding my practicum-less situation for the summer, things have progressed at a rapid (and surprisingly smooth) pace. Within 72 hours, fees were paid and flights were booked.
Randie and my fellow interns have been exceptionally accommodating, and I can’t thank them enough for welcoming me so late in the program. I am also incredibly thankful to my parents for their constant support, be it financially or mentally, as they have helped me immensely in securing and preparing for this trip [and any other "trips" that have come up in my 23 years of life]. I can’t emphasize enough just how lucky I feel to have such a supportive and loving family.
So, all due warm fuzzies aside, it’s now time for me to gear up for this trip! I am learning more and more details every day, and I am getting really nervous, scared, and excited for my 8-weeks that I will be spending in the SOTENI Villages of Hope in Kenya. SOTENI is an organization with offices in Cincinnati, OH, and Nairobi, Kenya, that seeks to lead the fight against HIV/AIDS and break the cycle of poverty within the 4 Villages of Hope (Mituntu, Mbakalo, Ugenya, and Kuria). Using an interdependent model, programs within these 4 rural villages provide access to clean water, health services and home-based care, as well as education and empowerment training for community members. My preliminary assignment will place me in SVH-Mbakalo, working within their dispensary and pairing me with a fellow intern in surveying the health needs of the surrounding population for the dispensary’s eventual expansion.
That’s all I know for now. In the meantime, I’ve set up an appointment to get my immunizations done (which I can’t say I’m particularly looking forward to), and I’m contemplating what and how to pack. I should get more information regarding that within the next few days, and I’m sure I’ll post my adventures in packing on here soon.
I’m really excited to be working in an international internship–I feel so out of touch with places that are not as fortunate as the United States. SOTENI International is has been doing great work for almost 10 years now, and I am grateful to be a part of something larger than myself.