Tuesday, February 17, 2015 – First dental clinic in Sopa in the Massai Mara area

We got an early start for our clinic a short distance from our camp. We had set up the clinic last night in a local church so we were able to get an early start.

Our accommodation in Oolalamutai camp with Charlene welcoming us to her tent

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We were able to get an early start because we had done the setting up last night

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This is how the system works

We are seeing the students first so they line up for a checkup and assessment .  We are using the clinic that was recently built in memory of Marilyn Trenchard. Her family has supported A Better Word since the beginning in 1990.

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They are assessed by Vivian (Fowler) Grinde with the help of a translator

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They then take an admission card to the dentists and walk over to the church where the treatment is done.

Thanks to Cathy Roozen for funding EDGE  – our youth program to engage students in humanitarian service.

The U of A students are sending their thanks to you.

Dr. Kelvin Hill of Sylvan Lake with local clinician Juma and student dentists Mika and Richard

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The new clinic is a three way partnership with ABW, The Warren Trenchard family and Paul Kane School. We will be adding toilets, water and equipment and two more rooms in 2015.

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Waiting area

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Nicely finished with PVC ceiling and titles, Thanks to everyone who has made this possible

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Feb 16, 2015 – By Leanne Grinde

 By Leanne Grinde

Today was a travel day.  We went from the Midland Hotel in the town of Nakuru to Sopa in the Massai Mara.  It was quite a long drive; we left at 7:45am and arrived at around 5:00pm to set up clinic.  We had a few stops along the way, some for fuel and some where we could buy little trinkets and gifts.  Our stop for lunch was a surprise planned by Eric.  It was at the Olarra resort.  I don’t know if my words can quite describe it.  You have been driving for so long and feel like you are so far away from civilization, apart from a couple of random people and cows that you see walking along the road every now and then. You are getting into a higher elevation with more mountainous landscape surrounding you, and the air feels slightly cooler.  You turn onto a red dirt road that is narrow enough only for 1 vehicle.  You travel through some trees and shrubs for about 5 minutes.  Then, suddenly you see some buildings.  A couple of very friendly African people greet you and give you a cool damp towel to wipe your hands/face with.  We then went up a couple of stairs past some beautiful living structures to an amazing dining area.  Across from it are some concrete seats with big fluffy white pillows, surrounding a fire pit.  They served us this delicious drink; I think it was called Pineapple Mint… or something like that.  We had carrot/squash/ginger soup, 4 different kinds of freshly made bread, beet salad, cucumber salad, creamed spinach, cubed potatoes, lasagna, ratatouille, fresh tropical fruit, and delicious chocolate pie with coffee to follow.  We wandered around the resort.  The pool was tiered into 3 sections, 1 flowing via tiny waterfall into the next.  We were allowed to look inside of some of the exotic accommodations which were little structures surrounded by trees and forest.  Each one had a bedroom, a room with a wardrobe/desk/long mirror, and concrete stairs that went up to a lavish little bathroom.  The bigger structure had 2 bedrooms/bathrooms and a living/dining room.  It was unlike everything I had ever seen: the view, the rooms.  The quality went beyond 5-star.  To rent a room for a night, the prices range from $300.00 to $600.00 US.  Mika, Steph, and I were already starting to make plans to come back and stay here some day.

We continued on to Sopa and set up clinic in a little chapel.  This way we will be ready to go bright and early in the morning.  We met the clinical officer there; his name is Juma.  He was also raised a Maasai, but he was lucky enough to be chosen to go to school when he was a child.  He went on to get medical training and now is a huge asset to his people.  He sees about 500 people a month, treating everything from Malaria and other disease to animal attacks.  Juma says that there are many animal attacks here.  Part of the reason for all the animal attacks is that the Maasai People are growing in number, such that the area does not have enough land left for grazing the cattle.  So the young Maasai Warriors have to take the cattle and graze them out in the park where many of the wild animals are.  One Maasai Warrior was grazing his cattle out in the Park and fell asleep.  A lion came, attacked and ate him.  They found out about it a couple days later because they found his arm.  The Maasai culture is gradually dying.  They are not allowed to kill many animals because it is illegal and they will be fined by the government.  The lower anterior teeth used to be taken out all the time so that they could get medication into their mouth in case they became lock-jawed or passed out.  However because of the advances in medicine and the increase in clinics in the area, this practice is becoming less common.  As well polygamy and female circumcision is decreasing due to more education among the Maasai people.  While most of these are changes for the better, it is still sad that a culture is dying.  We learned some other interesting things about the Maasai.  They don’t feed the pregnant women very much so that they will have smaller babies, making it an easier labor.  Young men go through a rite of passage when they turn 18 which is male circumcision. If they show any signs of pain it brings temporary dishonor on the family.  They first become Maasai Warriors when they are 12-25, then they become elders about 15 years later.  A man cannot marry until he becomes an elder.  Their primary diet is milk, blood, and meat.  They don’t kill the animals to get blood, they just “bleed” them from their neck.

We kept going about 15 mins from where we set up clinic and arrived at La Chand Tented Camp.  It is by far one of the least fancy places we have stayed, but it has a flush toilet and hot water (if you run the water for long enough).  There is only electricity when they run the generator from 5:30am-7:00am and 6:30pm-10:00pm.  The food is okay.  Some people are getting sick though.  Most of us have taken a turn getting sick. My mum felt queasy last night, Mika was sick this morning, and Scott feels as if he has a little stomach upset this morning.  Steph and I already took our turn last Tuesday.  Tomorrow we start Clinic with the Maasai.