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Thursday, 07 October 2010 12:58

Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Kenya, RBC Class of 1961

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September 27, 2010, Kiminini, Kenya

Dear Caseys and Maryknoll Affiliates,

Hello from Kiminini, Kenya! I am so happy that you are interested in the work I am doing in Kenya. As you know, I am a Maryknoll Lay Missioner and was sent to Kenya in January, 2009, after a three month orientation program at Maryknoll near Ossining, New York.

I am a Physicians Assistant and did my original training at Cornell University Medical Center in New York City a long, long time ago – 1975!! So I am fortunate to be able to help the people here in Kiminini with my medical experience and knowledge. It’s been a dream of mine since the 1990’s to work overseas. I was inspired by the work of Mother Teresa after I saw a video of her life and work. I was struck dumb by the dedication and love she showed to the poorest of the poor. But my children were teenagers and I was a single parent, so I had my hands full raising my two boys and educating them through college.

The people here in Kenya are wonderful – hard working, persevering, and hopeful for the future, despite the many hardships they have here. There are many many poor people here – it’s difficult to describe the degree of poverty the average person endures. Often times mothers delay for many days – and sometimes weeks – before seeking medical treatment for their sick child because it will use up the little money they have. They hope against hope that the child will get well on his own and sometimes they do, but often times don’t. Having been a single parent myself, you often have to choose between two less than good choices and hope that the one you make will be the right one for your child and family.

My patient Cornelia

My patient Cornelia

The pictures I’ve enclosed are as requested, one of me with one of my patients – a mother recovering from a severe case of malaria. The next picture is of her family: two teenagers, and a set of twins. Her husband works about 300 miles away and was coming to see his wife when he got into an accident and wound up in the hospital himself. She made a special request that we all pray together for him and his recovery. 

Cornelia and her Girls

Cornelia and her Girls

Many Kenyan – and African – couples live far apart because of where their jobs take them, especially if one or both of them work for the Government in the medical or teaching field. They have to make a pledge when they get their licenses to go wherever the Government assigns them for the sake of the greater good of the people of the country. In exchange, the Government gives them guaranteed employment (a very huge perk in a country to with over 70% unemployment), a pension, considerably higher salaries, and other perks. So, most people would prefer to work for the Government, rather than the private sector.

Clinical Officers Kathy and Fred at Kiminini Cottage Hospital

Clinical Officers Kathy and Fred at Kiminini Cottage Hospital

Another picture I sent along is one of my fellow Clinical Officers (similar in job description to a Physicians Assistant in the US) with me in our Out Patient Department. His name is Fred Kipsomap. We have become good professional friends and friends in general, after working together for over a year. We try to help one another professionally and he has been a great teacher to me of African medicine, the Kenyan medical system, and cultural differences in general. The other clinical officer, Thadeus Kogo, is also a terrific medical professional – very professional, caring, and knowledgeable of all things African.

The diseases we encounter the most are (1) malaria, malaria, malaria; (2) pneumonia; and (3) upper respiratory infections. Children are most affected by malaria and if the parents wait too long before getting treatment, death can happen. Yet children on the other hand, recover very quickly if given the right treatment.

Well, good luck with all your fund raising efforts – Red Bank would be a good area for that, I think, and as you know, “all roads lead to Red Bank Catholic!” Go Caseys!!!

Sincerely,
Kathy Jones Dunford
RBC ‘61


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