Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm back!

Well, after a looooooong trip to Kenya, I am finally home, over the jetlag, and getting over the fact that British Airways lost my bag - which I will never see again!

I didn't get a chance to blog at all while there because there was NO speedy internet ANYWHERE! I sound like I'm complaining, but I'm really not!

Africa is such an amazing place. I had never been to Kenya before, and was overwhelmed by its beauty. It is green - everywhere! I was able to take a ride through the rift valley, which was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Within the valley there is a huge volcano! Unfortunately, I was driving in a car/bus, and was unable to take many photographs, and the ones I did take were blurry! The roads in africa are not what you would call smooth!

My assignment while there was to photograph in hospitals, doctors treating patients. I spent a week in two different hospitals, and went on some community visits as well. The goal was to create publicity materials, i.e. brochures, website materials, pamphlets, etc. Moi University, a Kenyan medical school, is looking to have more Kenyans attend their program, thus creating more Kenyan doctors. More Kenyan doctors mean less dependence on foreign doctors. The program is actually one of the best programs for family medicine. Within the different comunities that each of these hospitals connects with, there are so many wonderful programs. The doctors/residents go to each community for visits, check ups, encouragement, you name it. Their patients are never too far out of the way. In fact, one of my trips took me two hours from the hospital to an incredibly obscure villiage filled with grass huts and sugar cane plants for miles and miles. Again, I was in the back of a car, holding on for my life because the roads were so horrible, so no pictures! You, like me, might ask what kind of photographer goes on a trip like this and doesn't take pictures!!! I know, frustrating. But that was not my assignment. They had so much for me to do packed into such a small amount of time, that I could not stop to photograph all that I wanted to. Next time!

Anyway, this was a unique trip for me because I am not at all used to being in hospitals! Usually on one of these trips, I take pictures of kids - not sick, dying people. It was such an awesome experience for me because it was a huge challenge. I was stretched in ways I did not know I could be! One of my favorite stories I tell people is while I was photographing a birth (the first time I have EVER seen a baby be born!!!) a woman on the bed next to the one in actual labor, EXPLODED on me! Her water broke. ALL over me! I'm talking, it looked like someone filled a bucket with liquid and threw it at me - sort of like at the end of a football game and the team dumps water all over the coach - yep, it was pretty much like that! What the? I didn't know that happened!!! My poor future husband is in for quite the surprise! I also had the chance to photograph a C section! I will spare you the pictures from these births, because I fear you will never visit my blog again if you see such things!

Overall, the whole experience was pretty incredible. I was able to connect with so many of the people inside and outside of the hospitals. The people I met were some of the kindest, most hospitable people I have ever known. One of the things I noticed most about the people, was their sincere smiles. Despite their circumstance, none of them complained once. I noticed a great deal of listening and gratefulness to the doctors for their care and concern for each patient. The other thing I noticed was how family oriented their culture is. So many of the patients within the hospitals were surrounded by family members. It was a beautiful thing to witness people walk through such difficult circumstances with their sick family members.

I feel so blessed and privileged to have been able to experience Kenya the way I did. My hope/prayer is that the pictures I took help raise awareness for aspiring doctors within the country to train at Moi University. There are so many well trained ones already, one can only imagine the benefits to so many more.

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