Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress!
We have been in the Lunga Lunga community for 3 days now...let the motorbike riding, teaching and working in the health clinic begin!
Our trip from Nairobi to Mombasa to Lunga Lunga took a total of 24 hours. We were on the train from Nairobi to Mombasa overnight from Friday to Saturday for a total of 16 hours! When we awoke on the train Saturday morning, we looked outside the window and the scenery was exactly what one would imagine Africa to look like - absolutely stunning.
In the morning, the train would make a few stops in villages. When the train would begin to slow down, kids from the villages would run to the tracks and ask for food, candy and money. Some of the children were happy to see us and would enthusiastically wave as we passed through. Once again, they were smiling without a care in the world and with faith shining through their eyes. When we arrived in Mombasa, we were greeted by Bendetta, the woman from Lunga Lunga who has partnered with Professor Araceli to keep Health by Motorbike running. She is an amazing woman - so powerful, loving and inspiring.
We loaded onto a Matatu (AKA a bus) and took a three-hour ride out to Lunga Lunga. The scenery during the ride was breathtaking. We would drive for miles through green landscaping and then would drive through very small villages. Majority of the ride was on a dirt road.
Once in Lunga Lunga, we were able to tour the Nikumbuke Project facilities and see where we would be living for the next two weeks. Here in Lunga Lunga, there is no running water and limited electricity. We shower by pouring a bucket of water on ourselves and go to the bathroom in "squatty potties" which are glorified holes in the ground. It is a very sobering experience, but we are all loving it here and the people we are interacting with.
Yesterday we took our first motorbike ride! It was a 35-minute ride to the village of Goto. The roads we traveled on were barely wide enough for two people to walk on. The women of Goto were so excited to see us that many of them cried.
Goto is a farming community and is located in a small desert. The women there do the farming while their husbands are three hours away in the city of Mombasa working or with other wives. But the women are so very passionate and eager to learn from us. Because they are such hard workers, they rarely have time to sing and dance. However, when they saw us we had a celebration with soda, bread, and dancing! They pulled me up to dance with them and sang my name. They are a really special group of women and I cannot wait to work with a couple of them this week.
Today we had a lecture on maternal health from a local doctor, Dr. Mwangi. We then toured the medical clinic here. Beginning on Thursday, we will be working in the medical clinic to aid in weighing babies, admitting patients, working in the pharmacy, and observing deliveries! We will also begin our teaching of women's health on Thursday as well.
This year, there are seven villages involved and two women have been selected from each village to come learn from us and become "health promoters". But before that, we will be visiting the Massai medical camp, which is a motorbike ride that will take two-hours! The Massai are a very traditional tribe in Kenya and can be related to the Amish of the United State. They do not want to change their ways, but are they willing and eager to learn from us.
We are so very excited to touch more hearts and lives, and also make a difference. The women here are teaching us just as much as we are teaching them, through their willingness to learn, their passion, their perseverance and their love.
Hakuna matata rafikis!