Claire McAdie: Claire McAdie’s CommUNITY News no. 3

Claire is asked to dance by a traditional dancer
Hi Everyone,

On Monday 18th, John Ouma a man from Kibera came to visit. John had been to hospital and was tested for Leprosy which came back negative. He tested positive to Sarcoma, a cancer which began in his stomach and has now spread as he has not be able to get treatment. It is curable and he needs chemotherapy each 3 weeks for 6 treatments.

We took John to hospital on Wednesday to begin his chemotherapy treatment. I will try to go with John as many times as possible, but my tight teaching schedule will not always allow this. I will be regularly in touch with John and his doctors though, to see how he is progressing. I have now witnessed the bureaucracy of the Kenyan Health system. They didn’t have the vital drug he needed so we had to go searching for it and got one at a different hospital. John is feeling quite sick now and is due to have his next treatment in 3 weeks.

It was a great Christmas experience. Everything was so simple. There was no fuss about what to buy for whom. All that mattered was the company that you were with.

We spent Christmas up in Siaya and got to see the brand new pump that was installed. Mum had raised some money for a project in Kenya and after asking me what I thought it should go to I suggested a pump for this community. Having been there myself and collected water I appreciate how extremely difficult it is. Now seeing the pump there and talking to the people it has made life so much easier for them. Instead of hauling a huge, heavy bucket up 50 feet they can now pump the water straight into their containers. It was a great Christmas experience. Everything was so simple. There was no fuss about what to buy for whom as we don’t really give presents here. We needn’t worry about an extravagant Christmas dinner. All that mattered was the company that you were with and I spent it with some wonderful people. This would have to be my favourite Christmas ever.

Lake Bogoria
Well, the holidays are now over and we are all back to business. Liam has returned to school as of the 8th of January and I have begun working at my new job at St. John’s Children’s Centre, Riruta. Our day begins very early. Up at 6am. Liam packs his own play lunch – he has yoghurt, milk and an apple. Very healthy. He leaves for school at 7.30am I head off in the opposite direction. I go to town and get off to walk to my bus stop in town. However I am yet to catch a bus from here to Riruta as there are only two buses which head out that way. Once I even waited there an hour before deciding to walk further and catch a matatu. This can even be difficult most times as well. I have to catch a 103 but when I ask them if they are heading to Riruta they tell me no so I have to continue searching. Most of the time I am sharing the matatu with fruit and vegetables rather than people. It takes almost 2 hours to get from home to town and then out to Riruta. I get to school around 9.30am and from then I am on the go. At St. John’s I have been put on as the arts and crafts teacher as well as teaching English and Maths to struggling kids. I work with them in small groups. The standards are very low with some of these kids so I have my work cut out for me. But the kids are amazing. They are so lovely and genuinely want to learn. I sometimes hear them walk past my class and whisper Teacher Mzungu. Out that side of town there are no white people. I really enjoy this job. I am striving to teach these gorgeous kids as much correct English as I possibly can.

My Kiswahili is really picking up now too. So much so that I really surprise some people when I talk to them in Kiswahili. White people here tend not to use the national language and tend to stick to English.

The standards are very low… but the kids are amazing. They are lovely and genuinely want to learn.

I met up with John the other day and he is looking so good. He has now had 2 treatments of Chemotherapy and with the extra money he can use for food he is now eating well. He has no pain now whereas he used to have constant pain, so much that he found it difficult to walk, sleep, do anything really. But now he is pain free and isn’t taking pain killers anymore. His hair is beginning to fall out now. His kids have all gone back to school and the girls that were in high school have also been allowed to return on credit. Hopefully once John’s treatment is over and he is recovered he can find a job somewhere, be able to support his family and pay school fees again.

From this Thursday 18th January we will have been in Kenya for a whole year. Very exciting. Time has gone so fast and I am starting to see how fast this year will go also. I just love Kenya. I really do. It is weird but in all the time I have spent in Australia and even though having family and friends that I love so dearly there was always something I felt was missing. Australia just never felt home, but being here I fell like I am somewhere I belong, somewhere I am home. As crazy as Kenya is and as much as I could go mad with how things work (or don’t work) here, I cant imagine being anywhere else.


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The future of every community lies in capturing the passion, the imagination and the resources of its people. - Ernesto Sirolli