Kenya hear me now?

Posted on: January 12, 2012

I’m in Africa for work… it’s not as hard as everyone thinks. Five star hotels, getting driven around, a daily per-diem that is completely unspendable, and drinks at the pool nightly. Yup, not hard.

I* love* it here. I love the heat, the crowds, the traffic, the bad driving, the near-death misses, the utter chaos all the time, the kids who yell “How are you??” and then giggle cause that’s the only English they know… I love it all. I would move in heart-beat if I could. I should’ve moved years ago and I let that chance slip by, but I have been lucky enough to keep traveling here.

The work I’m doing is different this time – instead of sitting in the headquarters office, usually air-conditioned and with electricity, this time we’re traveling to the clinics. And that means seeing the poverty and the sadness up-close. We were at a clinic in Tanzania that hadn’t used their generators in a few weeks because they were running low on fuel. We showed up with our laptops to do some chart reviews and capture data, and they ran the generators for us… I felt like such an asshole. We told them not to, but they insisted because we were guests. Foreign guests from America, who deserved electricity more than the patients.

In both Kenya and Tanzania, we’ve met with the HIV+ staff… and it’s awesome how healthy they are, and happy. They have all said how much they’ve appreciated this project and how it’s given them confidence to be happy and disclose their status and how their CD4 counts are higher than they’ve ever been. I almost cried when they talked about how much this study has given them personally in terms of being healthier and having safer pregnancies and how they can live the life they want to live without fear. I can’t take any credit for that – I came into this project at the end, but it’s been awesome to see how they thrive, and it’s been a great reminder of  exactly why public health is so important and why we do the work we do.





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