Friday, October 17, 2008

I think we're finally staying on top of the blog...

So I just wanted to quickly update everyone while I was thinking of the recent updates here at Uweza. Like Jen said previously in the blog, we have been falling behind on some of our projects because of the situation with Cyrus. This week I have spent 4 out of the last 7 days at a hospital up to 15 hours a day working on the case of Cyrus. His bill at Kenyatta amounted to a number we simply could not continue to afford. So we were working together with the hospital for a future payment plan, as they refused to release him. At first it was crazy to think how the National Hospital did not wish to help this orphaned boy who is now blind by releasing some of his debt, but the more we thought about it, we thought about the thousands of other poor and destitute that the National Hospital caters to and we began to see our payments as a donation to helping the hospital achieve the power to help all of the others unable to afford private care in Kenya.

We also wanted to inform everyone on the official diagnosis of Cyrus. The doctors had been struggling with his case for days trying to diagnosis the direct problem. They were sure of a bacteria infection but they could not quite pinpoint the overall problem, and it was especially difficult as he was unconscious and not able to answer any questions. The final result, after talking with Cyrus once he was stabilized, was that he had also suffered from methanol poisoning. Thankfully, the doctors suspected this all along and provided Cyrus with the proper treatment. Cyrus received methanol poisoning from taking a methylated spirit, a household cleaner at Tunza Children's Center. We were surprised and saddened to hear this news because now we must also question why Cyrus chose to take this toxic chemical. The children at the Center have had no one to talk with about things such as drugs or the traumatic events they've had to deal with as orphans, and so we are not sure if he was suffering from depression nor do we know what he wished to accomplish from drinking cleaning fluid.

We are happy to see now that the counselors will be there for the children to discuss these matters. We are excited to see their progress so far, as Jen has mentioned in the previous blog, and we hope their presence will prevent cases such as Cyrus from happening again.

So as of Thursday, Cyrus was released from the hospital on a payment plan. He was referred to both an ophthamologist for his eyes, and a psychiatrist to seek counseling and find out why he chose to take the methylated spirit. So immediately, yesterday on Friday morning, we all awoke at 5am to take Cyrus to Kikuyu Hospital, a center with one of the best (and affordable) eye care facilities in the country. We arrived to be the second in line for the clinic that opens at 8am, however, we still spent the rest of the day getting tests and seeing specialists. At the end of the day, we were told that the methanol had permanently damaged his optic nerves, however, because of complications the nerves were still swollen. The doctor noted that partial sight could return once the swelling had been reduced, which would naturally occur in the next 3-4 weeks. In the meantime, Cyrus has been given vitamins and nutritional supplements to help his eyes heal, in hopes that if the vitamins are pumped into the recovery of his eyes during swelling, he may gain his sight back. Unfortunately, however, there is no guarantee yet and he is to return to the eye clinic to seek further treatment in one week.

After the situation at Kenyatta, our plan has been to first diagnose his eye problems and find a way forward. After we are through with the eye clinic, we will be taking him to counseling, and in the meantime he will talk with the Tunza counselor, Collins, that we have hired. If his eyesight doesn't return, we will search for alternative methods of schooling and sponsorship for Cyrus. Again, we are so saddened to see his life turned upside down, all for making one simple mistake and we want to try and help him move forward in the best ways possible.

As of today, the hospital care for Cyrus has amounted to around 56,850 Kenya shillings (around $780 US dollars), however, we and Tunza Children's Center, are in a great deal of debt. If anyone could help to provide for the care of Cyrus, please donate or contact us for more details.

Aside from Cyrus, we have been working with two babies needing formula in our HIV+ program that Jen discussed previously. We have tried clinics throughout Kibera and have had no success in finding a feeding program so that the children may receive formula. There is such a need, especially in Kibera, for formula due to the high infections of HIV among the population. But we are determined to get these two children formula, in hopes that it will save them from being HIV+.

Lastly, we have finally moved some of the support group goods to the United States and will soon be selling them there to everyone. The support group project helps a lot of our HIV+ patients to earn a living and provide for their families, while still helping to set up a fund for themselves in providing loans and healthcare during emergency times. Recently, this week we sold some goods to a few American students studying in Nairobi. When Daniel, our health director, went to the home of one HIV+ women, Mary, to give her portion of the profits, she was completely overjoyed. She told Daniel that it must be a miracle that he came on this day because she had no money in the house and no way of providing food for her children. She was so overjoyed to get 400 kenya shillings (around $6 US dollars) she even offered to give Daniel 100 shillings of the profit for helping her. But Daniel informed her that she had received her deserved share, and the rest of the profit would be put into the support group funds for loans and hospital care. By buying these goods, your donations make an impact on a personal and local level, as in the case of Mary, so please stay tuned for more on support group sales soon!


That is all the news for now, more soon!

Meghann

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