Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Update from America

Unlike the past blog entries, this one is being written from the United States. I returned home last Saturday, but still wanted to give everyone a heads up on what we were up to right before I left and also what has been happening since then. Meghann is still in Kenya and working hard to keep all of our projects running and make good use of our donations.

There is not a lot to update about since the last blog entry because our time and energy has been consumed with trying to handle the situation with Cyrus. Since we last wrote, Cyrus had made a lot of progress. He was moved from the ICU to a normal ward where he has been slowly recovering. He can now eat and communicate almost normally. Unfortunately, he is still completely blind. The doctors at Kenyatta had been assuring us that an ophthalmologist would be coming to check on his eyes and see what they could do, but unfortunately, that never happened. As is the case in America (and certainly other places), lack of funds for healthcare necessitates poorer quality care. This is not to say that Cyrus is suffering or not receiving decent care, but Kenyatta was the best we could do with our limited budget and we, undoubtedly along with numerous other Kenyans, have been growing frustrated with the general idea that good health must be bought.

This aside, considering the condition that Cyrus was in when we rushed him to Nairobi Hospital (where we did pay large amounts to ensure adequate care in the emergency situation), it is very likely that we saved his life. And we have been doing our best to make sure Cyrus is as happy and healthy as possible, despite his inability to see. We have visited every day, made sure he is eating and drinking enough and have been communicating with the doctors about the best options from this point on. He is being discharged in the next few days and we will be taking him immediately to an eye clinic to see what can be done. We won't be giving up on the chance that his eyesight may still return. We're also, in the event that he will remain blind, trying to find options for alternative schooling and care once he returns to Tunza so that he can continue to lead a normal life as possible.

So far, his hospital bills have amounted to about 50,000 shillings (about 700 USD) and they are still increasing. Because we are a new, small organization, this has taken a tremendous toll on our budget and we are starting to worry that it will affect our ability to maintain our other projects. We are continuing to reach out to our supporters or anyone that may have stumbled on this blog for assistance. All of the donations that we have received in the past have allowed us do the very best we could to help Cyrus but now we need help to continue being able to do so.

In Tumaini Health news, the patient that was pregnant and due at any time has given birth to a healthy baby girl. We are continuing to look for formula to ensure the baby is not HIV positive. We have provided her with milk, sugar and bottles as a temporary solution while we visit clinics to see what can be done.

We previously mentioned the beaded goods that the HIV+ support groups make and that we would be selling them so that the ladies of the group could earn some income for themselves and their families. After throwing away about half of my wardrobe at the airport to be able to get my bags under the allowed weight, I have carried 568 pieces of jewelry (necklaces and bracelets) back to the United States. Half of the proceeds from the sales will go straight to the individual who made the piece and the rest will be used to buy more materials and will go into a group fund that will be used to provide hospital care, medicine, and other needs for the members of the group. We will be posting pictures of the available items as well as more information on the Tumaini website (www.tumainihealth.org) in the coming weeks.

We have been continuing to visit the girls that were moved from Tunza to Hekima Place and they are doing really really well. The youngest girl, who is HIV positive, is gaining weight like crazy and has still remained off of ARV treatment. They have all made friends with the other girls and are really comfortable in the new home. They're attending school and overall, couldn't be happier.

Lastly, the counselors that we hired to work with the kids at Tunza have started holding sessions once a week. There is a male working with the boys and a female working with the girls. So far, they have held two sessions. The female counselor had the girls each write her letters so she could get to know them better and she let us know that they are being really open with her. The male counselor has told us that the boys are also being really open and the older boys have already started talking to him about issues of sexuality and asking questions about HIV. With over 70 kids at Tunza and only one caretaker, the kids (especially the ones that have reached adolescence) haven't really ever had the chance to express the problems and issues they deal with in an effective way and we're really excited about this opportunity for them.

For those of you who have sponsored a child, we are almost finished with the welcome packets and I will be mailing them out very soon!

Although this blog was originally intended to be for the summer while we were both in Kenya, we are going to continue to update it with what we're up to as long as one of us is in Kenya carrying out work so keep checking back.

Thanks for your reading and for your continued support. We wouldn't have been able to save Cyrus, feed a baby, support a group of HIV positive women or hire counselors without you. We may carry out the work but everything we do is made possible solely by the donations we receive so thank you.

Jen

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