My name is Claire Lannon and I am a final year children’s nursing student at Queens University Belfast. Last year I won the ‘Community Nursing’ award from Cavell Nurses Trust for my work coaching and volunteering with the Special Olympics. With the award I was given a travel scholarship to go on an elective placement anywhere in the world and to work within my speciality; paediatrics, and I chose Kenya. I had always wanted to go to Africa and jumped at the opportunity. I had a connection in Ting’ang’a and I took that as my base. I nursed in clinics there and in Mulutu, Kitui. Mary McAleer who is the Founders Kevin & Mary Maguire niece, told me about The GLO and since she did I have been following your Facebook page closely.
On arrival at Mombasa Airport I was met by The GLO driver Abbas to make the journey to the orphanage, I told everyone I was a children’s nurse and I was interested in working closey with the children’s health needs and since then that’s exactly what I have done. The experience I have gained here has been fabulous. I have been practising my basic nursing skills on a daily basis. Enhancing my communication skills as the kids started to teach me Kiswahili. I have accompanied children to private clinics and seen how they have been treated. i have taken children to hospital appointments in both district and general hospitals. I have toured paediatric wards and sat in ENT clinics. I have visited emergency departments.
Today I went with George on the home visit to see Amina. When I first arrived I was completely shocked. It was my first time visiting a mud home. And it was only then that I realised the poverty some people in Kenya are living in and it really hit home.They had nothing and were so desperate for help to care for their daughter. Amina was clearly dehydrated and in need of medical care immediately but her family were not financially fit enough to provide this. It was deeply upsetting that this young girl could be left suffering in this state and my heart went out to her mother who was very worried about her, all I could do was offer her a smile and hold her hand due to the language barrier.
With financial aid from The Good Life thanks to a generous donation from DAFA to cover medical costs in 2013, Amina could access medical treatment and should make a full and speedy recovery. However the cause of her illness still needs to be investigated as it is reoccurring and this requires more money. Simple medical investigations and pharmaceutical treatment is extremely expensive here. I have witnessed very sick patients attending clinics and getting prescriptions written up and watched them going home with them in their pockets, having to wait until they can afford the medicine until they can pick it up. Working as a nurse in Kenya has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the health system which is in place in the U.K. A system which Kenyans could only dream about.
As for the The Good Life I came here almost expecting to be saddened by the young children. I had a stereotypical view of an orphanage. One week on and the only thing that saddens me is that I have leave.
The warmth of the children here is incredible and that comes from the love that has been shown to them by the mamas, aunties and staff here. Not once did I see a child upset (except jack at the birthday party when his bloom burst) or want for anything. I was welcomed and made feel part of the family. I was shown exceptional kindness by Mama Doma and she looked after me like I was another kid in the Maguire Family.
I am in awe of the children here. They are the strongest most courageous children i have ever met. They have over come the tough times life has thrown them and have rose above them holding no grudges for anyone or anything. They are an inspiration and The Goodlife must be very proud of them, I’m proud of them. I leave tomorrow already looking to return, until then I will treasure the friendships and the memories I have from my time here.