“Where the Lion Sleeps Tonight”
June 17th – June 21st
The past four days have been very adventurous in our travel south of the equator to two National Parks, Lake Nakuru & Masai Mara. On Thursday, June 17th we left the IU house very early in the morning for a four hour drive to Lake Nakuru. The roads out here are either decently paved roads with a speed bumps every couple hundred yards or an extremely terrible dirty road with very large rocks that do not go well if you are trying to sleep. The people drive very impatiently out here, passing every chance they can get. Most of the time, you have to pass a truck because they are spitting out huge clouds of black smoke out of the muffler that smells terrible. There were times on the trip that we almost collided head first into oncoming traffic. The drivers here pass on steep hills and very sharp turns without thinking twice.
We arrived at Lake Nakuru around noon and made a stop at the entrance of the park to take care of admission and use the restrooms. While we waited to get in there were a bunch of monkeys all around us. One of them jumped in the vehicle looking for food before we quickly scared it away. These little guys would do anything for food. Now I don’t want you to get the wrong impression when I say park. This park is thousands of thousands of acres where the animals roam freely without worrying about being killed by humans. There is no hunting allowed in Kenya anymore to save the animals from going extinct. Within a few minutes of entering the park we saw herds of zebra’s, impala’s, warthogs, Thompson gazelles and many cape buffalo including millions of flamingos lining the water’s edge. Lake Nakuru is one of the most populated area for the pink Flamingo in the world. On our way into the lodge for lunch we looked up in a tree and saw two female lions laying and hanging out up the tree. They were very sluggish while resting but we got a good view at their beauty. After an hour of driving around we decided to head to our lodge within the park for lunch before heading out for an afternoon drive.
After lunch we drove out to find the elusive black rhino and leopard. Within seconds of our drive a large gang of baboons were walking down the road right at us. There were a handful of new born baboons that would hang on to the mothers underside while they moseyed on their way. Before I go any further I must explain that Dr. Yoder said we are the luckiest people to have gone on these safari’s for all the animals we were able to see. So shortly after getting back into our drive we saw the enormous and rare black rhino plowing thru trees like toothpicks. To wrap up the night we drove up to a leopard that was hiding in the grass about 10 yards away from a baby Thompson gazelle. It was waiting for the rite moment to strike for the kill. After watching for about 20 minutes the little Tome’s turned their backs to the leopard and the leopard began to move in to strike. The leopard took off towards the tome’s and within seconds they spotted him and took off running. It was an unsuccessful kill but the leopard walked straight up to our van and gave us a great show. I have it all on video. After that show we called it a night and headed in to have dinner at the lodge.
The next day, Friday June 18th, we got back in the car for the second worst drive in my life. The worst drive being the drive on the way home. The drive was a total of around 6 hrs with the first part being the usually stop and go at the speed bumps, however the last two hours of the drive was on the worst dirty road I’ve ever seen. The road had huge ruts, holes, and giant rocks that made it very bumpy. We were in Masai country. There are around 42 tribes in Kenya and the Masai tribe is the only one that has not civilized itself yet. These people live in BFE with nothing around for miles. After making it through the drive we made it to the front gates of the park (thousands of miles large that spans into Tanzania). At the gates there were Masai ladies trying to sell us their goods through the windows of the vehicle. These women were very persistent and very annoying. One of the guys in the group asked if he could take their picture. Boy was that a mistake. Usually a person gives a small amount/tip for taking someone’s picture here. It is more to just help them out. Dr. West offered a $5 bill to the 5 ladies for each of them to have $1 a piece. This is a lot of money for these people. However, the lady demanded $5 for each woman equally, $25 for a picture. We felt this was ludicrous and told the lady take it or leave it. Well the lady reached in the car demanding more money. Of course, this didn’t sit well with me so I told the lady to get lost and for the driver to drive on without giving them anything. In the end the kid who took the picture forked over $10 and Dr. West gave them $5. These people were extremely rude. I was more pissed than the kid who took the picture so I guess he learned a good lesson and I quickly forgot about it since it didn’t bother him that much.
Once in the park we headed for lunch and checked into the hotel. After lunch we went on an afternoon drive and saw the following animals: Elen, Ostrich, Hippo’s, thousands of wildebeest, Black main lion, cheetah, baby lion cups, artabeast, zebra, gazelles, warthogs, hyena, elephant, giraffe, and many unique birds. All these animals we saw multiples of in large packs. The first night we witness 6 lions setting up an attack on a herd of wildebeest. It was a great site to see how they strategically planned the hunt. We were very fortunate to be here at the time of the wildebeest migration. These animals migrate in millions from the Serengeti to Kenya. When they run they follow each other in a single file line for miles long. I’ve got good video of this as well. If you’ve seen the lion king (MEESH) than you know what I’m talking about. The next day we were able to come across a male and female lion in an open area where they were mating. These animals mate for 7 days and do it up to 80 x in one day. While they were mating a Cheetah tried sneaking up on them in pursuit of looking for baby cubs to eat. The male lion did not like this very much and chase the cheetah away. The male lion is truly the king of the jungle. His presence is like none other and is absolutely gorgeous in appearance. Shortly after we headed down to a river bed were 10 + female lions and cubs were feasting on a wildebeest.
After a long day of safari we headed into our resort for dinner and rest. The place we stayed at had tents that we slept in. However, these tents had wood floors with stone bathrooms and showers. It was not your typical tent experience. On this night it was the last night, Dr. West and Dr. Platt were with us. We had a nice dinner with them and talked about the trip. Dr. West was not ready to leave and I suspect I will feel the same way in less than a week. This has been a lifetime experience. During our reflection we talked about how every day we have done things that we have never imagined and only have dreamed of. I guess dreams do come true if you want them to badly enough. This reminds me of the James Dean quote “Dream as if you’ll live forever and live as if you will die today”.
I’ve only told two people about this but a few weeks prior to my trip I was having flashes of what the afterlife holds. It’s a messed up thing to think about and trust me I’ve done my best to try to avoid this but my mind wouldn’t let me. I’ve kept these thoughts inside until the past few dinners with the group when others have brought it up. We have talked a lot about family on this trip and the different dynamics each person’s family has. Family is the number one important thing in my life so this topic is very important to me. Dr. Yoder’s, Platt and West have all shared very close personal stories with us and have given us lots of life experience advice on this trip. I still probably will think about the afterlife for years to come but for now I know as long as I am doing what I believe in and working at making this place better than when I came than no matter what happens it will all work out. I guess the reason for all this thinking is because of how many people die here daily from things that could be solved in other parts of the world. I’ve been reading a book about the IU faculty that started this place in Kenya. He has lunch with us daily and has retired here to finish his mission. In his book he talks about “Nothing worth doing is completed in one’s lifetime.” Also, in this book is the story of Javan, the Tai Bo instructer/security guard here that I’ve posted pictures of. In 2008, there was a political outburst between the Kukuyi and Luau tribe bc the Luau’s thought the presidential election was rigged by the Kukuyi tribe. This led to mass murders and burnings of villages between tribes. During this time 130 people took shelter at the IU house to save themselves from being killed. A call came through that the Luau’s were going to attack this school where 3 Kikuyu children were being hidden. As soon, as Javan caught wind he jump in his car and drove out to save these children. All along the way there were large boulders, trees and other things blocking the road. Javan is a former Mr. Kenya bodybuilding champion and was able to move these large things with bruit strength. Now if Javan’s car was pulled over and he was caught with these three kids he would of likely been burned to death inside the car. This didn’t stop him he ended up picking up the kids and driving them in the early hours of the morning to the local airport to safety. This place can be a jungle and it has made me appreciate my grandparents for making the journey in the late 50’s and 60’s for a better place for me and all my family to live.
Ok enough emotional thoughts. After our last day at the park we made the 9 hour drive back to the IU house and the rest of the night I recovered in my bed.
Today, June 21, we spent the morning with the Moi students teaching them how to take impressions on each other and pour study models. We are wrapping up our trip this week with a few more school visits and some writing/reflection time.
Stay tuned for more to come.
June 14th – 16th
“The world is a global village”
Monday (June 14th) we loaded up the van with our dental supplies and headed to our first primary school (elementary school) to screen & provide sealants to the kids. When we arrived to Sosiani primary school the kids were all in the yard doing planned activities. All of these activities were lead by their teachers. Some were dancing, others running and a hand full of groups were stretching and or playing games. The ages of these kids ranged from 5 to 16 years old. The youngest group of kids in primary grade one only spoke and taught Kiswahili. In this group there were a few older kids from 10-16 who were from Sudan. These kids spoke English and Sudanese very well but were placed with the very young kids to learn Swahili. The older kids (Sudan kids) were the leaders of the little kids and made sure they were in the right places. They were acting like big brothers and sisters to the young ones.
After our introductions, we started seeing kids and giving them oral exams/screenings. During our screenings we have developed forms to mark specific items that we see. We are going to use these results for a larger study on the prevalence of caries and fluorosis in specific groups and areas of Kenya. The most striking part of giving these exams was how compliant, patient and curious these kids were. Every kid from ages 5 – 16 would sit in the chairs with a big smile on their faces and were very willing to help anyway they could. This is a large difference to what kids are like in the states when they come to a dentist. There is a reason the states has pediatric dentists because the pool of young patients in the states a majority of time can be very difficult to get them to even open their mouths or keep still in a dental chair. The kids here listen well and are just glad to be seen by someone that cares about their health. During our visit we also saw a few patients who had teeth extracted without any reason. In some tribes there is a tradition of having “Nylon teeth”. If a young person is sick and their teeth are starting to exfoliate in the mouth the tribes traditional healer will pull out the babies teeth with all kids of different instruments that should not be used for this to make the baby get better. They pull out the teeth because they think that’s the cause of the babies illness. When the teeth are extracted they are not developed yet and look like “nylon”. After the extractions babies have died from severe infections that result from these barbaric procedures. After seeing around 100 patients we headed back to the IU house to have our 3rd Swahili lesson over dental phrases.
The rest of the night was spent playing euchre with other students here at the house. There are many medical, pharmacy and public health students here. Many of them have traveled the world with other service experiences. They all have very unique and exciting stories. For example, one of the med. students is from Toronto Canada doing a research study on genitourinary fistulas. She has spent time in South America and she told us some crazy story of living down there with tarantulas living in the ceilings of her house. This is just one of the many unique stories that each person has here.
On Tuesday, June 15th we took a tour of the AMPATH center (Academic Model for Prevention of HIV/AIDS). The first part of the tour we saw the renal unit where patients with kidney failure come for dialysis. There are 52 dialysis patients for only 4 dialysis machines. In the states a person receives dialysis 3x per week for 3-6 hours a visit. In Kenya many patients can only afford 1 visit per week. When these patients come in they are very, very weak because all the toxins in the body build up and cannot be excreted until that one time a week. It is very sobering to see how bad these patients are when they come in for treatment. This specific image will forever stay in my mind for those times when things go wrong in life and will remind me that whatever happens will be very difficult to equal how these humans feel every single day. After visit this unit our tour guide show us the pharmacy, the data center where all the patient information is shared with the IU hospitals in the states to keep track of trends and statistics of the patient population.
After our tour we had all the 3rd year Moi dental school students and faculty over for lunch at the IU house. Before lunch I taught some of the guys in the class how to play h.o.r.s.e on the basketball hoop here. Over lunch we had a group discussion on some of the expectations and visions of the future of this partnership. Most of the students were very reserved to express their opinions in front of the faculty members. It seems as if the students do not questions much of what the professors say here and do what they are told. This is very different from how Chris, Pat and I conduct ourselves during group discussions. We are very open to express our thoughts and opinion. The discussion got the students to start thinking of how their community and school could benefit from this partnership and what should be done in the future to build this program. After lunch we had our fourth Swahili lesson followed by an intense Tai Bo workout at Billy’s fitness Depot in downtown Eldoret with Mr. Kenya.
Today, Weds. June 16, 2010, we headed out to do more screenings in the morning but this destination was unlike any other. We headed to a juvenile correctional facility to screen kids from 6-20 years of ages who were put in this facility until their court dates. These kids were in the big house for crimes such as theft, assault, murder and rape. Before going we were very caution on what to bring with us and what to leave at home, i.e camera, money or anything that they could steal from us. Upon arrival the building was very old and not very large for 120 inmates. Once we got everything set up we went into the yard to meet convicts. Surprisingly, they were all very happy to see us and were anxious to get their teeth examined. The kids were actually very nice and listened to what we asked of them. They were very excited to get a free toothbrush and toothpaste from us. Prior to having these they would use coal and other things that should not be used to brush their teeth. To our surprise these kids had great oral health for the majority of them. One of the reason we thought of was the very restricted diet they have an the little access to sugars and fermentable carbohydrates. This is unlike what we saw in the primary school were the kids actually had worse oral hygiene than even the special school kids or the inmates. One of the reasons we figured the special needs kids had good oral hygiene was because many disorders such as down syndrome the patients will produce a large amount of saliva that acts as a protective component.
Strange traditions: Some of the tribes here have very weird ways of handling/doing things. Today we learned that the Lua tribe will extract a person’s front teeth if the patient has trismus/muscle tetani (when the persons jaw is locked shut bc the muscles won’t relax) in order to feed them.
Tonight we are going to the local dental society meeting where we will present our research studies and pass out vials for the local dentists to collect samples for us. This study is a spore study focusing on the effectiveness of the sterilization used in the dental offices here. After dinner we are gonna watch some world cup.
Over the next 4 days we are traveling south to the Tanzania border to Masa Mara to go on a Safari. This is where the Serengeti is located as well as mount Kilimanjaro. I may not have internet. So mom don’t worry if I don’t post anything over these next four days. If Monday or Tuesday comes around than send the troops because I either killed a lion or was eaten by one!
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle - when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
~ Hakuna Matata ~
June 10 – 13th
Habari yako! (What’s the news in Kiswahili – similar to asking what’s up?)
The past few days have been pretty adventurous with things from flea markets to impala’s to doing Tae Bow at a local Kenyan gym with Mr. Kenya’s bodybuilding champion (Not joking).
On Thursday morning Chris, Pat and myself thought it would be fun to be adventurous and walk downtown to do a little shopping and to get in with the locals. Being the only mtzunga’s (white man) walking around town we definitely turned a lot of heads. Although people were staring at us they were extremely welcoming towards us. In the afternoon, we joined the dental students for a dental materials class and helped teach them during a lab activity. This was their first time to use materials to restore a few teeth. For students who have been studying without touching or working in a clinic atmosphere it was very exciting to be around them during this experience. It was like giving a kid his presents before Christmas. Once we returned back to the IU house we had our second Sawhili lesson over numbers. I can now count from 1 – 1,000,000. We’re gonna try our knowledge at the market soon. Right after our lesson a group does Tia Bow downtown at a local Kenyan gym. The teacher of the class is a security guard here at the house and is a very large man. Javan is a former Mr. Kenya bodybuilder and is very intense. He works out for 3 hrs in the morning starting at 4:30 a.m. and then again for two hours after work to do cardio. He does this 6 days a week. The working out was pretty tough especially at this high altitude of 7,000 feet. I have to say the worst part may have been for my nose to have to smell the not so nice odors some of the locals in the room.
The next day (June 11) Chris & I got up early to go on Medical rounds with the med. students. During our rounds all of the patients we saw were females who had tuberculosis and were HIV+. Since there were more patients than beds available many of the patients were sharing beds. It was pretty sad to see but the alternative of not being at the hospital and dying in the villages was not a better option. During our rounds the head resident would lead the exams and the students would chime in differential diagnosis and further tests to run. There was also pharmacy students updating the doctors on the medications they were on. During our first two years of dental school we spent a lot of time learning about all the systems of the body and signs and symptoms to look for in medically compromised patients. It was great to see my studies be put into action. It’s reassuring to know that all the long hours I put into studying these past years are paying off. There was even a patient with the classic signs of hypothyroidism that I brought up to the head resident and he was shocked that they had not run any Thyroid tests on the patient and he ordered these tests based on my recommendation. There was also a patient with oral pathology that the resident asked me to look at and I gave them a few differentials and explained the locations to them as well as the potential causes. It was exciting to be in a clinical setting learning first hand vs. reading out of the book. I am really looking forward to getting back and working with patients more. Since I am officially able to see patients I am accepting new patients at the school.
At night the guys and I went out downtown to a club called the Caesar’s palace (Similar to Vegas ; ) ) We watched some soccer and a couple locals came up and started talking to us. They were both named Edwin and one was a 19 year old that was starting medical school in September and the other was in the Moi business school. We hung out for a while with these guys at Caesar’s than walked over to the Signature club. On our way to the signature club this street kid came up to use and was joking around asking for money from us. He smelled a lot like glue. The street kids sniff glue here to cope with their hunger. Sometimes you will even see these kids stick glue permanently underneath their noses to constantly keep the high going. Both Edwins expressed not to give money to the kid because he would buy more glue and if anything to just buy him some food if we wanted to but did not have to feel obligated. These two Edwins did not know each other before tonight but after the night they became the best of friends. After leaving the signature club Edwin wanted to make sure we got in a safe cab and drove back with us to the IU house. These guys are the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever met. They are just happy to have life.
Yesterday (June 12) the group headed to Kreuger farms which is a huge farm that has wild Impala’s and Giraffe’s that roam throughout. I’ll post a picture of the giraffe that shows how close we were able to get to the newly born baby giraffe’s. After the farm we headed to Iten high altitude training where they train the world’s best runners. Surprisingly, all these runners come from the same tribe. It was also one of those things the pictures describe the experience. I’ve posted pictures to my facebook if you want to check them out. After Iten we had dinner at the Kerio View restaurant that sits on top of the Rift Valley. When we got back the world cup game was on. There is a pharmacy faculty here that has a t.v. in his place that everyone gathered at to watch the US get the luckiest goal in the tournament. Edwin joined us again tonight to watch the game.
Today (June 13) we all chipped in and made breakfast. It included, omelets, german pancakes, baked tomato’s and a fruit salad. Then we had a debriefing meeting of the past week and looked at what this upcoming week was looking like. Afterwards the dental school took us on a day trip to this resort that was in the middle of nowhere for dinner and hanging out. This place did not seem to belong in Kenya it was very similar to a resort that was in a tropical island somewhere. It had a rapidly flowing stream with an extremely nice outdoor pool. This week will be another adventurous week. I look forward to writing about it.
June 7 – 9 2010
My Rafiki’s (My friends)
On our third day of our journey we made it over to the Moi University dental school in Eldoret. In the morning we met with Dean Kibosia and Dr. Kimwa to do our welcomes and solidify our schedules for the trip. From the meeting I learned that all med students go through a dental rotation to understand the needs within the country. The reason they do this is with the high levels of disease in this country the medical students are more likely to see an emergency first vs. in the states where a dentist is more likely to notice a medical concern. In the states most people see a dentist every 6 mo. vs. going to the physician when they feel sick or for a physical. The number of dentists being very low in this country provokes the need for the medical students to go through a module of dental related emergency in order to consult a dentist when needed. This is pretty interesting because many of the medical students here from the states want to learn about the head and neck including the oral cavity because they get no training in it back home. At the same time we will be doing medical rounds in the hospitals to learn things that we may not see at home in dental school (I.e. delivery a baby).
After our meeting we walked over to the new construction site of the 6 story dental school they are in the process of building. The most impressive part of this experience was seeing how they build in these parts without heavy machinery and only man power. Once we got there I couldn’t sit and watch so I grabbed a shovel and started putting sand in the concrete mixer. After meeting some of the workers I started talking with the foreman Stephen Mwangi Maina from the Kikuyu Tribe (Tribe of Kings). The tribe he comes from is the same one as the past presidents of Kenya. They own the most prestigious land at Mt. Kenya in the entire countries hierarchies are part of this tribe. After talking with him for a little bit I mentioned I’m from Indiana and sure enough he asked if I knew Dr. Dave Matthews (Katherine’s uncle that performed surgery for years here). He proceeded to tell me how they worked side by side to build a hospital in town. When I told him he would be back in July he was ecstatic.
After lunch we were suppose to hear a lecture from a dental professor over dental materials. We had already heard this lecture back in the states. However, me and the guys had different plans. After lunch we met the students for a brief minute than changed clothes and headed over to the construction site to see my man Stephen to put us to work. For the next two hours we worked side by side with the locals digging out the foundation and moving dirt in wheel barrels to get the dental school building up and running. After two hours of work in the hot sun we were beat. It was very humbling talking to the supervisor about which job was the revered job to have (digger, wheeler, concrete, ect). He replied with “everyone is just happy to have a job and love the work they have.” Another great part of this project is nothing was wasted. They had one guy who would recycle the nails and straighten the bent ones out and he would do this all day. This process reminded me a lot of how my grandpa builds things and how he is very resourceful with his materials. My grandfather came from Macedonia during his early 40’s and built from the ground up my parent’s house, my uncles house, aunts house and his own house with a similar plan of attack. This is a quality that no book can teach a person but can only come from experience.
After our labor was finished for the day we headed back to the school to meet the rest of the dental class and spent some time learning about their program. The Moi program is a 5 year program that starts when the students are fresh out of high school. The student’s average age was around 22 as a 3rd year student. When we told them our age they laughed until we told them that we have to do 4 years of college than 4 more years of dental school than they were glad that they didn’t have to do as much schooling as we did. When they graduate they get bachelors in dental sciences vs. our doctorate. Another major difference is they only have around 11 kids in their class vs. the 100 in my class at Indiana. They were very shocked by this number. I could only image what they would do if we told them we pay $40,000 a year for school not including housing costs.
Soon after leaving the school we headed to our first Swahilli lesson with our teacher WeCliff. The first hour of our lesson was over greetings (Salamu). The nice thing about this language is that the way it is spelled is the way it’s pronounced. So if you want to say what’s up in slang swahilli than you would say sasa and then you would respond with safi or fiti. The first lesson went pretty smooth. After our lesson I hit the bed to work on this time change.
The next day which is today Weds. June 9, 2010 we headed to a Special School for the medically handicap to perform dental screenings on the patients. When we arrived it was absolutely indescribable how happy these kids were to see us. If you ever feel down or need a friend these kids will comfort you and love you instantly. As soon as we walked up kids were swarming us grabbing our hands to walk with them and to play with them. I quickly spotted a group playing volleyball and sized up my opponents. Now I underestimated these kids skills I mean don’t get me wrong my team still whooped up but these buggers put up a good fight. After about a half hour of hitting the volleyball around with them we started our exams. The biggest thing I further developed today was patience and learning to describe and deliver things in a different way to reach out to these kids. Communication is extremely important when working with special needs or medically compromised patients. A large majority of the teachers did not have a diagnosis for the kids but from our dental findings we narrowed them down to epilepsy, down syndrome, fragile X disorder, cerebral palsy and many other developmental disorders that show signs in the mouth. After doing an extra oral and intra oral exam the kids were happy as can be to get their toothbrushes and toothpaste for the road. I truly think these kids enjoyed us giving them attention more than anything. In the school they had a few saying that I took with me. The first one was “having a disability is not an inability, help me help myself”. This was a very humbling experience. At the end of our visit the school wanted to thank us by having us a plant a tree that would be named after us and to grow with them after we leave.
After our visit we headed to the imani workshop where they make jewelery, hand bags and many other kinds of art including wood statues and masks. The imani workshop was another development from the iu school of medicine partnership to help HIV+ patients earn money to feed their family. The workers are all HIV patients that sell these hand crafts here in Kenya and have an online store that ships to the US to keep them employed and help pay for medication and food for their families. It is a great symbol of “teaching a man how to fish to feed them for a lifetime instead of catching a fish for them to feed them for one meal”.
After our active day we went into town to have dinner with all the other residents here at the IU house. These included pharmacy, med., MBA, Masters in Public Health students, Journalist and others who were here living. We went to a Chinese restaurant. I said the same thing a Chinese restaurant in Kenya, are ya kidding me. It actually was a really nice place. I guess I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Hope you enjoy the post. Asante Sana!
P.S. I apologize for the misspellings and grammar in my writings. Mrs. Shepard was thoughtful to point those out to me : ) with her great proof reading skills. It’s usually late when I write these.
If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together
Hi everyone. First off, I owe a big thanks for this blog experience to Katherine for setting up an account for me. For those of you following I hope you enjoy this as much as I will writing it.
June 5th 2010 “Jambo Journey”
The first day of the trip my mom, dad, Katherine and Mimi dropped me off at the airport but before we had to stop at our favorite restaurant in Greek town, the Greek isles. The lunch discussion was solely focus on Mimi going back to her roots of “sharing is caring” with her digital camera that she so dearly loves. In the end I got a new memory card to hold all these pictures I will be attaching to this blog as well as facebook. Once we got to the airport my parents were quick to get me on my way while Katherine walked me to the check in counter with my bags. Yes, Katherine did cry and I was internally somewhere deep down. It was tough to say goodbye for two people who haven’t been without each other for more than a two week span over the past 3+ years. I know what you’re thinking…but with my new video camera and skype we’ll be ok.
After saying our farewells, making through security was the next big thing on the list.
If you ever want to see how much people truly care about a significant other I recommend spending an hour at the security checkpoint for an international flight. There were very many people crying, hugging, kissing and saying maybe there last goodbyes to family members they may never get a chance to see again. Once I wiped all my tears away…I proceed through the bag check to find out the thoughtful jar of peanut butter my mom packed for me would get taken away by TSA. I asked her if it was really a bomb threat or if she was low on peanut butter at home. She gave me a look and I kept on my way peanut butter free. Don’t worry mom I’ll be ok without it.
An hour later the rest of the group: Dr. Darlene West, Dr. Jeff Platt, Dr. Karen Yoder, Dr. Keith Yoder, Pat Kelly and Chris Cummings, showed up ready to spend the next 17 hrs flying. We flew British Airlines for both flights to London than to Nairobi. I highly recommend this airlines, they offered ALL you can eat and drink beverages the entire way. They also had video screens in the backs of the chair in front of you to watch all the new released movies, t.v. shows etc. On the first leg to London I watched Invictus. The story of Nelson Mandela reviving South Africa’s government through rugby after spending 15 years in Robben Island jail for having radical ideas that were not well looked upon by the socialist government at that time. His story is truly remarkable. A few sleep hours later we arrived at Heathrow airport were we had breakfast, read the London paper and shortly after hopped on another plane to Nairobi, Kenya. I’ve been reading the local paper’s a lot the past few days to get a perspective on the surroundings as well how these countries very the United States. The press has not been very positive towards the U.S. in every aspect of our news from the oil spill to Joe Biden visiting Nairobi today to give a speech. For example, they ridiculed us on thinking we have the technology to be able to handle and kind of emergency that happens yet we cannot control this oil spill. They followed this with calling the governments threat to step in and control BP as a blank threat because over government would not know where to start. They also talked about how we as a country have failed to solve their Somalia terrorist problems in Kenya. It’s been interesting to find out how look at our country from the outside in vs. us looking out.
Once we arrived in Nairobi we had to purchase visa’s than make our way through customers which consisted of us walking through without being checked with 20 bags btw the 7 of us. I guess the lady who got busted yesterday for trying to smuggle from Uganda 21 kilo’s of cocaine took all the attention off everyone else at the airport. After exchanging some money at the Barclay’s ($1 = 76 schillings) we headed to the Country lodge where we posted up for the night. To my surprise it was a first class hotel with free wireless. Luckily enough I was able to test out the skype with Katherine for a little while. Kenya is 7 hrs ahead of Indianapolis which makes it a long night to stay up to talk. Once we got to bed around 2 until these retched sounded birds woke us up at 7 a.m. I wish I had my shot gun to shut those damn things up. After breakfast we went to the Nairobi dental school to visit. To our surprise it was set up very similar to our schools in the U.S. There are differences. The main ones being, these students come right out of high school and do a four year dental program that consists of two years of class room work and two years of clinics. In the clinics they make everything from waxing to casting all there lab work to bending orthodontic wire. Luckily in the U.S. we don’t spend our time on this and send them out to labs. After graduation these students have to work for the government for one year in a hospital setting to pay off the government for paying for their education. One of the surprising things about the students is if they vote on student government policy and the administration does not listen to them they start riots. Just this past week they burned two cars and stoned the building. Talk about not wanting to piss someone off. While walking through the school we stopped into the pathology department to see if they had any unique cases. The first case we saw was a giant ameloblastoma (jaw tumor that develops from forming teeth) this person jaw was resected and the entire tumor was excised. To give you an idea of the size it was close to the size of a very large grapefruit. This is very uncommon to see this size of a ameloblastoma in the states. There were other specimens we looked at including a peripheral ossifying fibroma and a dentigerous cyst. After talking to some of the faculty it was very prevalent that they have a constant battle with fluoride in this country that has been causing fluorosis of the teeth and bones as well as mental disorders in young children. This fluoride is very high in part of the water and also in an ingredient called magodi which is used for cooking. These high levels bind to the bonds and inhibit grow and overtime can degrade the bone. During our time here we will be taking water samples to study back in the states and ultimately try to develop a water defluoridation system that the people can afford. The one thing that must be taken into consideration is during different times of the year the fluoride level is different based on the rain that does not contain fluoride and will dilute the underground water.
After meeting some new dental friends and touring the school we made our way to Giraffe park. Here we saw the Rothchild giraffes and actually were able to feed them. These animals are truly amazing. They have 32 teeth very similar to humans and only eat plants (herbivores). Some fun facts about the giraffe is they sleep for only 30 minutes total a day and usually sleep for 10 – 20 seconds at a time. The also have to do this standing up because if they lay down the blood will stay in there brains and wont return with the veins and cause they to do. At the park there were also a few warthogs from the nearby national park where they escaped from the lions. These guys were pretty ugly and I can see how they can clear the savannah after every meal! After leaving the park we headed to lunch where we enjoyed a Tusker which is the famous Africa beer than is brewed in Uganda. From there we loaded up the vans and headed back to the airport for another flight to Eldoret where we will be staying at the Moi University – Indiana University School of Medicine houses. After taking a cab down the crazy street of Eldoret at night we made it back to the IU house around 9 for dinner. Over dinner I ran into a friend from high school Daniele Brueck who gave use the run down on the place. We’ll we are two days into the trip and have seen a lot so far from the slums (exactly like slum dog millionaire) to the very wealthy in this country. I look forward to sharing more soon. Stay thirsty my friends!