Slum Doctor Programme

Kenya Re-Cap Part 1
October 6, 2008, 12:04 pm
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After 25 hours of travel, I stepped off the plane. I expected to be weary and exhausted but as we made our descent, I saw out the airplane window the very image of what I had been waiting for and I was ecstatic. It was only 6am as I entered the airport, but I was immediately greeted by the smells of deep spices and intense heat. I couldn’t believe I had made it. Here I was, walking into Kenya, after a year of learning and studying all I could about the country that SDP serves through the 4 project sites located here.

I met up with the group, which at this point included: Tim Costello (SDP executive director); Professors, Mary Sass (business management) and Shearlean Duke (journalism) and Sam Woodcock (SDP volunteer and Saturna Capital fund accountant).

Together we set off across Kenya for our first destination, Meurreshi, where we would stay with the Maasai tribe. Red sand, low-lying trees and giraffes walking beside the road all assured me that I had arrived in Kenya. During the 4 days that we spent with the Maasai, we were shown the most incredible hospitality and kindness. We had the opportunity to talk with elder women and learn about the ways our cultures differed and were similar. We were able to exchange stories and laugh with Maasai warriors and on the final day had the incredible privilege of watching them perform a traditional dance. I think that we were all amazed by what we saw in Meurreshi and were eagerly anticipating getting to Ombogo and starting our work with the students at the girls’ school.

At this point we parted ways with Sam, who went to Uganda with Wanambisi, SDP project coordinator with BSLA.

Two days and miles of bumpy roads later, we arrived at Ombogo. We met Carol, Ombogo project coordinator, Maureen, Ombogo director, and many more Ombogo staff and friends. We all sat around the kitchen table, as we did many times throughout our ten-day stay here, to talk about our plans and goals for the following days. The WWU professors, now joined by Kristi Tyran (business), and Tim would be working with Maureen to design the service learning project which will bring WWU students to Ombogo next summer.

I would be helping Carol to interview and photograph all of the SDP sponsored students. During the rest of our stay, I met with all 52 sponsored students and recorded their stories, in the hopes that their voices would be heard at home. I teach a global AIDS curriculum in middle and high schools in Whatcom County and was especially interested in sharing the girls’ stories about poverty, gender inequality, orphans and the impact of AIDS. Shearlean and I also had the amazing opportunity to meet with four students and have an in-depth discussion about these issues. The girls were incredibly articulate, thoughtful and intelligent. Shearlean and I are excited to share these interviews with students and the community in the near future.

The team also spent time creating a strategic plan with Maureen, which will enable the school to be as affective as possible in creating an environment where the girls will obtain the necessary skills to succeed and become independent thinkers and responsible citizens.

As the last day approached, I was stunned at the amount I had learned. I had finally been able to meet the students I had seen so much of in pictures. I heard their stories. I saw how complex the AIDS pandemic is and how many people it is affecting. Everyone was impacted by the disease, which left orphans and abject poverty in its wake. People in Kenya spend more time at funerals than at the grocery store, and yet there is hope. There is a strength of spirit.

The heat and the orange sand was something I expected but the generosity, kindness and warmth that we were shown by friends, partners and strangers alike was incredibly unexpected and greatly appreciated. The perseverance we saw by so many in Kenya despite overwhelming struggles was inspiring. It confirmed what I already knew about the value of SDP’s work in Kenya and Uganda. I realized, more than before, that as citizens of the world, we have an obligation to help – To serve our communities, both local and global. And when people experience hardships, at the hands of AIDS or poverty or any other atrocity, then we need to do something.

I would like to thank everyone who supported me and the group on our journey to Kenya. We were all truly changed by the experience and it never would have been possible with out your generosity. Thank you.



We also traveled to Rabuor Village, which was an equally wonderful experience. I will write about this in a future post.

This story was written by Paige Lamb, SDP’s AmeriCorps volunteer and education coordinator.


1 Comment so far
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Paige, I’m so proud of what you have done with SDP. Your work will help so many people. God bless you in your future work.


Comment by David Dawson

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