30 October, 2015
In this final instalment from Kenya, CBM’s Rob Nicholls highlights the impact CBM’s partner organisations are having in the poorest communities. He also takes the time to reflect on how CBM is helping those in poverty with a disability to dream again… Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
We sat in a humble Board room in beautiful surroundings in Kijabe in the spectacular Rift Valley. Peter, the CEO of CBM partner AIC Cure Kenya spoke of the goal of the work done in this hospital as assisting people “to be able to dream again”. Beside him sat Livingstone, who has worked with family liaison and advocacy in the organisation, and was the first patient of Cure Hospital back in 1989. He had was by a spider at the age of 9 and was headed for a short life when he connected with Cure. Livingstone’s previous experience with misdiagnosis and witch doctors had left him and his family in despair and expecting a short life. However, at Cure he was diagnosed with scholiosis, had surgery and other treatment and returned home to pursue his schooling and his future. Some years later he reconnected with Cure and became a volunteer until he completed his college degree when he joined the staff. He dreamt big and now helps others to do the same.
AIC Cure Kenya treats about 10,000 patients each year with about 7,000 surgeries. They conduct mobile clinics around Kenya, as well as fixed club foot clinics in most counties in Kenya. They work with children and adults with conditions including club foot, untreated burns, cleft lips and palates and hydrocephalus. They carry out corrective work, including surgery, fit prosthetics and provide training and counselling to those with whom they work. We visited the patients currently there for treatment and met a number of children and their mothers, as well as single adults in for surgery.
One young man, Joseph, was there having prosthetics fitted to both legs which had been amputated. This 25 year old man was to be go home soon and his older brother would come in for the same treatment. Both brothers had developed a “leprosy-like condition” which necessitated these amputations. They lived in very poor circumstances with no education, and the staff had decided that they personally would all fund a new home for the two men to give them a chance in life with a more positive environment and no rent. We asked Joseph what he wanted to do now that he had his prosthetics. He said he wanted to go back to church and start a small business, in that order. He was regaining his dreams.
A beautiful mother sat on the bed with her seven year old daughter whose hand was wrapped in bandages. This girl and her twin sister were burnt in a fire in their home at four months of age. When they got to Cure a process of burn treatment commenced which would see both girls regain the skin on their heads and the use of their hands. It was a long and difficult journey but today the mother says “I can smile now!” More dreams resurrected.
An important feature of the work of Cure was the work they were doing with people whose disability could not be removed by various treatments. People like Joseph who would live with their disability for the rest of his life and others who would always use a wheelchair for mobility. We had walked through the rough terrain of many villages so it was exciting to find a rough terrain training course for people using wheelchairs, including rocky tracks, large obstacles and steps. Of course the wheelchairs they used were also modified for such conditions. When the Olympics feature a cross-country wheelchair race, I think the gold medal winner might be a graduate of this training!
The scarce resources we saw at Cure were being maximised to bring all the benefits possible to the people who turned up at their Kijabe clinic or any of the mobile clinics. There was a sense of great optimism and hope all around this vital service despite how under-resourced Peter and his team were for the demands that were put on them. Another community that needs all the support we can provide, including prayer, so that they can help people who’ve lost hope to dream again.