Sunday, December 2, 2007

St. Andrew's, Maseno North

Seventy-five hundred orphans rely on Maseno Missions, and countless more are sick and hungry. The Orphan Feeding Program and Mobile Medical Clinic were held today inEsiola "where it all began," as Gerry Hardison explained. Seven years ago the Diocese of San Diego helped to build St. Andrew's rectory and nursery school. Soon after, Maseno Missions outreach programs began in earnest.

After morning rounds, we headed off. "Bruiser," the elderly Land Cruiser, broke down en route in Luanda, so Nan came to our rescue with the "new" van. The clinic began a little late, but we saw all the kids and their guardians by 1:30 PM. Linet was my interpreter, and by far the better clinician. We assessed and referred patients with headaches, fever, hypertension, coughs, head lice, intestinal worms, arthritis, tinea (ringworm) and "jiggers" -- a painful, disfiguring and sometimes life-threatening problem caused by tunga penetrans. (When people try to dig out the mites, they potentially share HIV/AIDS, as well as a common pin.)

The preferred treatment is repeated chemical soaking. A tub is set up at every clinic, and the kids line up to "dance."

We shared in handwashing, prayers and a meal of githeri , large crunchy kernels of maize mixed with beans. Many of the kids quietly tucked a little extra githeri into plastic bags for their siblings at home.

Little Diana was discharged during afternoon hospital rounds today. Her fever -- still of unknown origin: the malaria smear was negative -- has subsided, and her small ulceration has simply been treated with Vaseline, to suffocate the now-suspected screwfly larvae within. Two outpatients were treated and released following an early-morning RTA (Road Traffic Accident). Thugs had apparently blocked a main road with rocks in the dark, causing a bus to roll over. One fatality was reported.

Doracilla was also discharged after successful treatment for pneumonia. Her happy mama reminded Dr. Hardison that today was the one-year anniversary of the kerosene stove accident which had left her own face and arms badly burned and scarred. "Doracilla and I wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for you." He demurred and then encouraged her to come back in June 2008 when he hopes to have a plastic surgeon visiting Maseno.

Next summer will also, hopefully, see another delivery of Lions Club eyeglasses. Many of our diabetic patients, in particular, have badly-impaired vision due to retinopathy. When asked if he could read his glucometer, one man shrugged and pointed to his wife: "She's my eyes," he said. In a place where the resources and supplies are meager -- from surgeons to eyeglasses, from IV poles (2 per ward) to thermometers (1, with luck), from oxygen to blood for transfusions -- healing continues to take place, with attentive medical care and by God's grace.

Tonight Nadia, a young medical student from South Africa, came to join our Rotary House family for the month. It is lovely to have her company.

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