Sue, Richard & Toby: expedition to Endau
In the past few days, we have visited the clinic that Pamoja built at Endau. Most people in Kenya have not heard of Endau: it is a remote place. Pamoja trustees built the clinic there because some of them knew the Church pastor, who convinced them that there was a real need in this area. Endau is about 200 miles to the east of Nairobi, the last 60 miles being on dirt roads beyond the next nearest town, Kitui. For more information have a look at the ‘Endau’ tab on the Pamoja website. In this internet age, you can also look up it up on Google maps, but that doesn’t tell you the whole story….
Endau is remote and people there are poor. It is a difficult trip from Nairobi – it is five years since anyone from UK has been able to visit. At the moment as rains have not started everything is so hot very dusty- even things in the car had a film of dust over them. The people are digging for water in the dried up river beds, and are praying for the rain to come soon.The water is often either collected by children or if you are better off on the donkeys. Pamoja has recently installed a second water tank at the clinic, so when the rains come, water can be saved for a ‘dry day’.
Our accommodation, 4 miles on a narrow, rough track from the clinic in the scruffy little town was not luxurious…a bed with a worn out mattress, an upright chair, a small table and an en-suite – door to a smelly hole in the floor with a bowl of water beside!: in fact nothing had changed since our last visit. But our Kenyan friend, Kioko, who
accompanied us on this trip, said ‘these are nice rooms, which gave us a true perspective.
The clinic is run by a young man called Stephen. He is in his early thirties, and has worked at the clinic for nearly seven years – almost all the time it has been open. He is remarkably dedicated, demonstrating his Christian faith in action – …‘if God loved us so much, then we should love one another’. His wife and small son live in Nairobi- I think they find it too backward.
From the so called ‘Hotel Perseverance’ you need a 4 wheel drive car to get to the clinic: it is 4 miles distance but rather hairy in places -the car almost got stuck on a large rock and in another place it was straddling a deep gulley. We all got out -except the driver to be guided in these places. The locals use motorbikes, or simply walk.
Obviously our visit meant that it was not a typical day: a visit from anyone, let alone people from UK, is a rare event. Nonetheless, what happened on that day gave us a real insight into how Stephen works. Not sure how they knew, except most have mobile phones, which have replaced the old jungle drums!
Before we arrived at the clinic soon after 9.00 am he had already seen 5 patients, starting at 6.30 am. One of them had been bitten by a scorpion. Sue worked alongside him for some of the day, while Richard chatted to various local people. Toby helped the locals redecorate the outside of the clinic with paints we had brought from Nairobi (the nearest place for buying paint is Kitui, 3 hours driving time). We were also able to distribute some basic groceries and a few treats to everyone who came – these people are desperately poor. so even a pound or two helps.(exchsngr rate £1 =KSH 120) We left around 5.30 pm to return to our accommodation, while Stephen continued to see patients, finishing at 8 pm. He had seen 89 patients! Then he travelled 40 minutes on a motorbike or boda boda as Kenyans call them to see another very poorly patient, finally going to bed just before midnight.
The following morning, we were giving Stephen a lift back to Nairobi. He was late arriving as he had been phoned just before 4 am to say that a pregnant lady was on the way to the clinic. She gave birth at 6.30 am to a baby boy, who was named Richard Kioko in commemoration of our visit!
People come to this little rural clinic for miles around because they know they will be treated by someone who knows what he is doing and who really cares for them. Stephen says that he does his very best, and leaves the rest to God. It is a remarkable facility to find in the middle of a really hard area. Thank you to everyone who contributes in any way to enabling this work to continue.
Stephen would like to build a small unit to enable people to stay at the clinic overnight when needed, and the general facilities are basic. We have been able to facilitate some basic decoration, and will see what is possible for the future.
One reason for making the journey was to assist in delivering a motorbike to help Stephen visit patients in outlying areas who are too sick to travel. Sue’s younger brother Tim donated the motorbike that he had when he lived in Kenya, and her older brother Alan has spent many hours getting it back into full working order and fitting it with a large topbox to carry medical supplies. Alan rode the motorbike on the four to five hour trip from Nairobi to Kitui, then a local mechanic rode the remaining three hours to Endau. (Stephen has just passed his motorbike test, but he was understandably reluctant to make his first ride on the bike such an arduous one.)
Several things: our nephew Toby reckons he is a city boy. He wasn’t sure about living in Endau – 3 hours away from a decent internet connection! But he loves to be back in his birth country. A bit tricky for him when a Kenyan start chatting to him in Kiswahili-then ha has to explain he is English!
Sue enjoyed cuddles with little baby 1 month old.-all wrapped up in his blanket in 32 degrees heat .
We had a demonstration by night guard Solomon with his locally made arrows. Each arrow had a metal end which was razor sharp. He could hit a tree 30 metres away on his first attempt: the arrow was silent in travel: any intruder would not know what had hit them!
The watermelon we brought was huge success: we caught Kioko eating a large slice and it was bigger than his smile.
Here is one random, sad fact for you. On Wednesday, we paid the people who helped us decorate the outside of the clinic 300 shillings each – they considered that a fair wage. Today, in a smart new shopping centre in Nairobi, I noticed a small packet of ‘Wonderful’ pistachios for 610 shillings. There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Pamoja can’t change Kenya, but it can and does make a huge difference for some.
On Saturday, we are planning another visit to the Kware Care Centre in Nairobi, then on Monday we hope to drive to Magina, near Kisumu, where we plan to spend most of the next four weeks. I have bought a different portable internet modem, so maybe we’ll have better internet access than last time. You never know!
Thank you again for all your interest, your thoughts and your prayers.