Caleb's time in Kenya...
Wow! What an amazing few weeks in Kijabe in Kenya. I am very thankful for the financial support and help of medical missionary news to help me undertake this fantastic trip. I will be forever thankful for this special experience and I am sad to have to head home after making memories that I will cherish forever and I hope to return to Kijabe in the near future. I can't believe how quick the time has gone but I believe I have made the most of every opportunity to provide care for patients, to socialise with others and to explore the beauties of Kenya. It's truly a stunning country, would highly recommend a visit! This trip has definitely provided thoughts about what medical mission abroad would look like and I have valued discussing with individuals their call for mission and how it has been for them living in a different country to their own - encouragements & challenges! I will continue to pray about this as I return home. On top of that, I'm sure there will be a reverse culture shock as I arrive home. I have been surrounded by a strong Christian community for so long and I'm anticipating a shock of sort as routine goes back to normal. But, I pray that I will be kept with this and use what I've learnt during this short term experience to have a positive impact on my own mission field and my everyday life living for the Lord.
I arrived safely in Nairobi with another Cardiff Medical Student on Sunday the 19th of February and we were greeted by a very friendly taxi driver. He was incredibly welcoming and I was so grateful for his help on arrival in Kenya. That night, we stayed at a guesthouse in Nairobi before heading to the Africa Inland Mission Eastern Region office for orientation. This was helpful and insightful into the do's and don'ts of Kenyan culture and how we could prepare for a cultural shock. Thankfully, every shock during my trip was a positive shock!!
Following orientation and meeting other individuals at the office we began the hour journey to Kijabe! After the journey through the beauties of Kenya we arrived in Kijabe, and no sooner after arriving we headed over to a family's house who work with AIM for dinner and we were welcomed warmly. We enjoyed dinner and fellowship with this very kind family and they helped give us an idea of what life in Kijabe is like and were massively helpful in settling into life in Kijabe and even invited me to a basketball game and a choir concert up at the missionary school! So much fun!!
Our time at Kijabe Hospital kicked off with a tour of the hospital and meeting some valuable contacts! As soon as the tour finished I was thrown into it at the outpatients department and that's where I was based for the first 2 weeks, where I began by shadowing before running my own consultations and trying my best to deliver compassionate healthcare for God's glory. The team were so welcoming and friendly and helped me to learn and develop in the work I was doing. There were plenty of opportunities to pray for patients and this was very different to healthcare in the UK but amazing to be able to share my faith with patients.
Every Wednesday the Hospital gathered at the chapel for a morning service and this was so encouraging to begin the day surrounded by hundreds of other hospital staff praising God and hearing from his word. On Sunday mornings, I attended the AIC Kijabe morning services and this was brilliant to have fellowship with other Christians in Kijabe, and enjoy coffee and treats with a smaller group following the service.
I was constantly blown away by the kindness and generosity of all people in Kijabe and within the hospital. I was welcomed warmly into the community and I had my eyes opened to how serving for God's glory has impacted the perspective of people's compassionate care. It was amazing beginning the hospital days with a chapel service or devotion or time of prayer or even sitting in a taxi with Christian worship songs playing on the radio. Healthcare is very different to in the UK as it follows more of the US system, and patients pay for all their care on the day which has led to more consultations where patients decline tests and medication, or even demanding investigations that are not clinically appropriate. It was interesting to understand the impact this has on how a patient views healthcare and then how it is delivered.
My last day in outpatients came too quick but it was so good that I was able to lead a devotion with the team, and amazing we were able to sing and pray together before we began our day seeing patients.
A different environment stood before me at week 3 and I began my week serving in the neonatal intensive care unit seeing very premature babies with very low birth weights or those with postnatal complications. This was a massive learning process, and occasionally I felt out of my depth but the team supported me. In times that are overwhelming or anxious, there is our Lord who is our stronghold and refuge and this has helped a huge amount in these anxious moments!
For the last two weeks I was based in the accident & emergency department. I saw patients who were very sick and even conditions that I rarely see or never see back home. I slowly had more independence and then allocated my own patients. I found it difficult dealing with patients who appear at hospital much later than they would back home, but care is not different in these situations, and tried our hardest to help these patients and to treat them well.
Saying goodbyes & giving Kenyans enough warning that you will be leaving is ever some important in their culture. So, on my last day I spent a few hours making my way around the hospital to say goodbye to all the amazing people I'd met and say thank you for all that they had done for me to help me to settle in and make the most of this opportunity. It was a very sad day to know I may not see any of these guys ever again but the memories of them I will remember fondly. I hope to return, but I don't know when although I hope it will be soon. I am so grateful for all these brilliant people at the hospital who have contributed so much to my experience and I am so thankful to God for them. The church has been so good to experience in Kijabe too and I will be praying that their work continues to progress strongly. I am continuing to miss Kijabe but I give all thanks to God for being kept safe during this trip and learning ever so much from every day I spent in Kenya. God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good. I do pray following this trip that this short-term experience will have a positive change on my contribution to mission within my church & my everyday life. Also, that I will use what I learnt during this hospital trip that was surrounded by such a strong Christian community to have an influence on my own clinical practice and care in the future. Additionally, that Africa Inland Mission will continue to reach the unreached with the Good news of Jesus Christ.
It truly was an amazing & blessed trip. I hope to go back soon one day.
I thank you ever so much for your financial help and your support in prayer.