July 21, 2012

Because we had taken a day off for climbing Meru, our group had scheduled our time to work through the weekend. So today, we were off to CCF Maji ya Chai/Sunrise of Life Sol Tupendane to do medical screenings on the kids there. Each year, MedOutreach visits a number of orphanages and homes for street youth and performs an annual health check-up. Any problems identified are referred to Dr. Mhando’s clinic for treatment and follow-up.

Today, we had sent up a little screening assembly line- kids would come in and the nursing students would take vitals, look up their old charts and perform strep tests on the kids (part of a research project our group has started here!). From there, Neha and Aaron did dental screenings, checking who would need cavities filled or teeth pulled. They would then pass them along to us, the medical students, where we did histories and full physical exams.

The kids range in age from about 9 to 17, and many have been at the home for years. The screenings are challenging- most of the kids only speak a little English and even with us having the Swahili words for various ailments, we need to use a translator to get detailed histories. In addition, because many of the kids have left their families or been abandoned by them, discerning any form of family history or developmental history is virtually impossible. At least we have all the screening forms from previous years, so by returning each year, we do create some continuity. 

Overall, it was a tiring day. Many of the kids were physically well, minus the normal bouts of colds and infections, bumps and bruises, any child experiences. The difficulty was that I had the impression some could benefit from counseling and I wished that was a treatment we could offer. I’m happy to know they are at Maji ya Chai, which is a stable environment and supports the children in attending school, having adequate food and a safe home. It’s just sad to think what some of these kids have been through and I left wishing I could do more for them. At least when we were finished, we had time for some fun stuff. We gave the kids new soccer balls, stickers, toys, blankets, and extra clothes and spent some time playing around.

 Next week, we finish off our school teachings and will be continuing screenings on CCF Arusha kids as well as the kids living at Karama House. The nurses will also be leaving us for a period to volunteer at the leprosy home. All in all, we have a full week coming up! Can’t believe how time is flying- only 3 weeks of work left!

 All the best,

Alina

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