This morning, our group set off from Kericho at 7:30 AM and headed to our newest clinic in the Masai village of Niakarra. As we drove south, the lush countryside of eucalyptus forest and tea plantation gave way to xeric landscape. We briefly stopped in the city of Bomet to fuel up and meet with Bernard, the contractor for the Niakarra clinic project.
As we continued to the Masai Mara, we were fortunate to see a group of giraffes along the side of the road. The drive was, however, most memorable for other reasons: because of deep potholes, goats, and other traffic obstructions on the main road, Lawrence often had to go off-roading on the “highway 2A”. He joked that we were getting an African back massage. The road was especially dusty because, unfortunately, the Mara is in a state of drought.
Our group was welcomed at the Niakarra clinic by nurses, community leaders, and Leonard (below) – a young overseeing medical officer. We were pleasantly surprised by the construction progress. Eric remarked that the clinic had expanded significantly since his visit in February: the covered open-air waiting area for patients had been completed (the community leaders agreed to build seating). Additionally, the male and female overnight care wards were improved and connected by a covered walkway. The leaky ceiling in the storage room was repaired and the water damage was resolved.
Having some molecular Biology experience, I greatly enjoyed talking a tour of the lab with Leonard. We talked about which diagnostic tests the Niakarra clinic is equipped to offer.
It was a tremendous pleasure to see so much initiative and engagement by those involved at the Naikarra clinic. The aforementioned improvements will benefit a great number of people, since the clinic serves those up to 80 km away including many Tanzanian Masai who journey to Kenya for treatment. This small medical centre sees a staggering 50-70 sick patients per day and delivers approximately 40 babies per month. Future plans involve building better toilets for patients and landscaping to improve drainage around the clinic. Before we left, the Masai people generously presented us with Shukas (left to right: Lawrence, myself, Eric and Rama).
Next, we travelled to the newly built Oloolaimutia clinic in Enkatoria where Juma serves as the chief clinical officer. This medical centre features a veranda for waiting patients which opens to several examination rooms, a pharmacy, a diagnostic lab, an outpatient rest area and an administrative office. The clinic has been fitted with rainwater catchment to supply an indoor shower and flush toilet. Eric and Lawrence were pleased to see that construction at this clinic was very well done.
Additionally, six outdoor septic toilets (two for staff + four for patients) as well as an incinerator for bio-waste have been built. The clinic has made plans to hire three more staff.
A brief fifteen minute drive away from the encampment of Enkatoria is the luxurious Sopa Mara lodge where we are spending the night. The contrast between the resort on the hill and the poverty of many people living below was staggering. It is some consolation to know that the community of Enkatoria will have access to great medical care under the supervision of Juma. Tomorrow, we will stay in the Masai Mara and visit the Irbaan primary school and the Talek clinic, which is the first medical centre A Better World built (2002).