Monday, 10 June 2019

Update from Heather Douglas

This is the update I received from Heather Douglas who worked alongside Doctor Lucy at the Medical Clinic that was held at Compass School.  What great work they have done!

"I really believe that the medical camp was a smashing success in the way that it gave each child a chance to speak and voice concerns, in the way that it reminded the teachers and children of Tumaini Afrika and it's vested interest in their well-being and in the way that it truly caught some serious health issues.
The first day we weren't sure how things were going to go and added to the stress of logistics, Lucy had an immense report that she was in the middle of revising for a recent medical relief trip to Somalia. Her bosses are big wigs from organizations including UNICEF and WHO but she handled it spectacularly and jumped into Compass wholeheartedly.
She's too humble to say all of this but she was an absolute warrior when it came to getting help for the kids and honoring them by doing due process on each and every complaint; from sore tummies to bean's stuck in ears (the bean, it turned out, had been removed by another doctor earlier and the student just wanted Lucy to take a look).
We took over the office from the head teacher, Mr. Kamae - I'm not sure if you got to meet or interact with him on your last trip but he is a wonderful man, aged 73 and has given up on retirement and teaches the Grade 7 class.
In his office we put stacks of pink and blue cards for keeping the records on on the main desk along with an otoscope, flashlight, box of tongue depressors and hand sanitzer. We had a scale on the floor and taped to the wall a measuring tape to assess their weight and height.
The office has a small couch and on this we spread out a yoga mat and covered it with a sheet. The desk to the side of the larger one was dedicated to bright stickers, a bag of sweets and a jug of clean drinking water.
We started the camp with perhaps the most challenging class: nursery and pre-school. The kids were squirmy and shy and required a lot of work from teacher Rachel to help translate and draw them out.
Teacher Rachel was another hero of the camp spending hours asking kids Dr. Lucy's questions in Swahili and deciphering their sometimes cryptic responses. She also had information on how they performed in class, their family background and who and where their parents were. When a medication was needed; she would call and visit the pharmacy and bring back what was needed.
At the end of the first day; I was drained. It seemed like the kids at Compass had endured more health issues in their first 5 or 6 years than I had in my entire life. Their tummies were mostly all distended, there were many complaints due most likely to dehydration and it was clear that some students probably had needed glasses for a while. What to think; the check-ups were just the beginning.
The second and third day were less difficult; we had a groove and as the students got older, their English improved and we were able to move much faster: I would invite a student in, ask them to remove their jumper and shoes, weigh them and measure their height and record the measurements. In the meantime Lucy would be checking over a different student, starting off by asking them if they had any pains or issues, then by looking at their eyes, nose and mouth. She would listen carefully to their heart and lungs with here stethoscope then she would have them lay down on the couch and she would feel their abdomen. A quick check over the skin for rashes or parasites and then she would write careful notes. Once the check up was complete I would get their shoes back on and give them a sticker and sweet and then repeat the process again.
By the third day we felt like we knew Rachel and teacher Thelda, the Grade 6 teacher, like family; and the children were no longer apprehensive of us; any fear that Lucy was there to give injections had vanished, and on breaks they would come streaming in to grab our hands, give hugs, hand drawn pictures and notes. We were deeply touched.
I still feel that this is just the beginning for many of these children but I also feel that there has been priceless love given through this camp and that you and the rest of Tumaini Afrika, by having enabled Dr. Lucy to do this work, have left a deep and lasting memory. They are seen, they are loved and their lives and health matter; the actions speak to this.
This is a novel but I wanted to paint a picture of the three days so that we could share in the good feels!
I know that Lucy has been in touch and I will leave the medical speak to her as it is over my head! She certainly has given much of herself and I hope very much that you and Tumaini will get to meet her on your trip in Feb.
All the best,

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