I recently had the opportunity to travel along with my son Ryan, and volunteer nurse practitioner Elizabeth Robison, to what felt like the ends of the earth. We had been invited to partner for a week with Africa Inland Mission to conduct trainings in remote tribal areas of Northern Kenya (towards the Ethiopian Border).
Dirt Landing Strip (photo: E. Robison)
We flew in via chartered plane and landed on a dirt airstrip in the middle of the desert. As we flew over the landscape I remember thinking that it felt like I was landing on another planet.
Birds-eye view of a traditional Rendille Village (Photo: E. Robison)
We were able to hold basic health and first aid courses in two different villages. One for the Samburu people and another for the Rendille. These are people groups who have to travel many hours to get to the nearest hospital. And that is only possible if they can access a vehicle. The closest place to catch a bus or public transportation is 175 km away!
During our second training there were participants who walked three hours each way just to attend the class. That’s six hours of walking under the desert sun! During our lecture about heat-exhaustion and heat stroke I was thinking about our participants who were risking this very condition each day just to get to class.
Here are just a few of the statements made about the course:
Learning to Splint a Broken Arm
“I never knew that some of the things we were doing were causing more harm than good. Thank you so much for teaching us the better way. We will do as you have taught us” – Course Participant
“Thank you for sharing this information with us. We are so far from a hospital, and it is hard sometimes to know how to help someone who is having an emergency.” - Course Participant
Finding the Position to Perform CPR
“I cannot express enough my gratitude for the courses you held here. I am still hearing such praises about it all from the people here in Korr. Everytime I run into one of your students they are thanking you and praying for your return. I talked to Mary and she was telling me that many other people in Korr really wanted to attend the course, but understood that there was a list of selected people*. Mary’s response was so encouraging; she told these people, “We will teach you. We have learned how to teach others; just come to our house and we will teach you.” Everyone that has passed through her home has received information on choking, burns, bleeding..etc. It makes me so happy to see everyone so excited about what they have learned.” - Hosting Missionary
Samburu Man Collecting Supplies for Practical Exercises (photo: E. Robison)
*Courses were limited to 25 students per class due to limited funding. The participants were selected strategically to represent different areas. There were teachers from a number of different schools who were selected because of their position working with children.
Bringing the Goats to Water (Photo: E. Robison)
Outside Mary’s Home (Photo: E. Robison)
On our last day we were able to visit a special lady named Mary in her traditional Rendille home in a nearby village. She shared with me about the needs of pregnant women and midwives. Because there is no nearby hospital, women give birth in their homes on cow-hides. She shared with me that the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA’s) would love the opportunity to attend a formal training course to broaden their skills. During our basic health classes there were a number of questions about childbirth that came up, and just not enough time to go in-depth with answers. With my passion for women’s healthcare I was truly moved. Would you pray with me that God would open the doors for me to take a course to these ladies sometime next year?
Inside Mary’s Home (Photo: E. Robison)