My stay at the hospital here at Lake Elementeita is almost over, and I can look back at 2 highly eventful weeks. I have learned a lot about the health care system in Kenya, and I have seen a range of diseases, such as malaria, HIV and TB, which are very uncommon in Denmark but unfortunately everyday stuff here in Kenya.
It has been an exciting but also, at times, frustrating stay. Some patients cannot afford the kind of treatment, which would have been most appropriate for their condition, and they are therefore sent away with painkillers and a wish for a miracle, when surgery or advanced medical care is what they need. It is heartbreaking to see parents, who cannot afford the surgical procedure that would remove their little son’s brain tumor. You feel powerless, when children are brought to the hospital with bone deformations caused by rickets, which could have been avoided, if the parents have had sufficient information and money to provide their toddlers with the right kind of nutrition, and then you have to remember that Kenya is actually one of the better African countries, when it comes to health care.
I’ve also gained insight in some topics, which I would have preferred to go without knowing, such as the high level of corruption, which is poisoning the country from within and means that money often falls in the wrong hands. Apparently, no part of the society is spared (not even, or rather especially, when it comes to the church) in terms of enriching yourself at other people’s expenses. Many Kenyans also see all mzungu (white persons, yellow persons) as walking ATM’s with unlimited funds for them to withdraw. It is therefore not uncommon that people you have just met ask you for money and a gift or try to manipulate your compassion by talking about their family’s hardship “..and maybe you could spare a small amount..?”.
Interestingly, my experience has been that even the poorest people have some amount of dignity and therefore do not ask for much, while the people who are well off, want even more and can be rather ruthless in order to get it. You must therefore be tough and sometimes put your foot down to avoid being taken advantage of. During my weeks in Kenya, I have thus learnt a lot, both in relation to my studies but most of all, as an individual.