A lot of learning — a lot of sharing

30 May 2014

We haven’t forgotten the other visitors who came to see us recently. As well as teaching staff from Londiani, Norah and Chela, two of the staff members from Friends of Londiani Kenya (FOLK), were recent arrivals along with a medical team from the Londiani area. Norah is the Operations Manager and Caroline Chelangat is the Field Officer responsible for Healthy Schools and the Girls for Girls Programme. The medical team were: Dr Kigen, Medical Officer in Charge and Mrs Annah Soi, Matron in Charge, both from Londiani District Hospital, along with Dr Betty Langat, District Medical Services Officer for Health in Kericho County (and the Friends of Londiani Country Director in Kenya). Londiani District Hospital is linked with Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar. They were all here for a little longer than their teaching colleagues: two weeks, in fact. And they were two very busy weeks, as this round-up of just some of the highlights shows. Norah: “Having gotten used to our Kenya context of working, coming to Ireland has been an eye-opener; it has given me a different perspective on things. “At the Comhlámh peer support meeting we had the opportunity to do a presentation on partnership. Based on this I will be able to work on other policies that are relevant to the organization as well. “The Wheel conference was one of the highlights of my visit. There was a huge emphasis on transparency in the work that all the charities are doing. I am now in a good position to pass information on transparency to FOLK staff. “Funding and governance were also discussed. After looking at our fundraising efforts in Kenya I was able to identify the gaps and can work on them when I get back home. It was great meeting with the volunteers who have signed up for the July visit and also the volunteers that have visited Kenya before and to give them updates on the projects. It was also great, through FOLK presentations at various ‘meet and greet’ events, to be able to spread the word about the work FOLK does.” Chela: “It’s been fascinating to visit different schools and see different subjects being taught and to meet teachers and students from different years. I had the chance to present certificates to fifth year students in one of the schools, something which is done differently back home. Comparing the sanitary facilities, approach to sports and the population was also fascinating. I noted too that the teaching staff is mainly female. “The Comhlámh peer support meeting allowed us to meet people from different organisations, to share ideas, to understand different policies and structures and to develop partnerships. A presentation on the Girls for Girls programme led to group discussions on the different challenges faced by the girls in Kenya. At one of our ‘meet and greet’ events, Noreen Heston, the Mayor of Castlebar, told us how impressed she was with the programme. “We also met some of the volunteers who will visit Kenya in July - some for the first time - and helped them understand how Friends of Londiani and FOLK programmes are carried out.” The medical team: “The three medical team members were able to attend clinical presentations done by advanced trained nurses addressing topics such as stroke care, renal failure, diabetes, pain management, heart failure and pallative care. “Some or all of the members of the team also had the chance to review hospital management, clinical, maintenance and utility facilities, to attend a surgical conference, a clinical conference on obstetrics and a nurses’ governance meeting, and to visit maternity wards, surgical wards orthopaedic wards, infection prevention departments and paediatric wards. There were also discussions on plans for the Esther Alliance , a student presentation on resource sharing and a visit to Galway college University. “However, perhaps the highlight of the visit was a trip to Clare Island. The team had to use a boat to get to the island where they did community-based home visits and visited a health centre. “The team will take a lot of learning to their hospital back home!” Everyone had a great time here, but we couldn’t resist rounding off the review with two of the less predictable visitor impressions of Ireland: Norah: “People do get to work here despite the weather. That was one of my biggest lessons: I shouldn’t take the weather for granted back at home!” Chela: “It has been great to visit Ireland for the first time. I quickly realized how busy people are even at 9pm: in Kenya that could be bedtime!”