Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kenya: the islands of Suba

I spent a week in Suba District, the district of Nyanza Province in western Kenya with the highest HIV prevalence of Kenya (35-40%) and where FACES is training HIV providers. There is nothing that I can write that would capture the feeling of being there. It was astounding in every way: the beauty, the rawness, the poverty, the illness, the calm despite the storm.

I lived in a house-shed without electricity or running water or clean water with three guys on Mfangano Island. I was thankful that Boit, the island clinical officer, gave up his room and gave me a bed to sleep on. We spent the days taking wooden boats out to mobile clinic and Ministry of Health public clinic sites, seeing and treating patients with HIV medications who otherwise would have no contact with healthcare providers. We took care of children named Steven Biko and Fidel Castro. We ate freshly-caught tilapia fried in metal woks over open flames. We walked home on dirt paths, trying not to inhale the swarms of lakeflies which would coat our bodies. We bathed and swam in Lake Victoria. I watched the guys take water from the very polluted Lake Victoria, put “water guard” into it, and drink it. We spent the evenings talking world politics by kerosene lamp. I went to sleep to the sound of rain pelting down on corrugated tin roofs and woke to the sound of roosters and insects in chorus.

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