The local market in Ndhiwa was buzzing every Thursday.
This summer I went to teach with First Aid Africa in Kenya with the support of the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund. We were a small group mostly from Scotland, with some from across the border as well, who had all received training in first aid at home before we travelled south. Ndhiwa is located in Homa Bay County, which is largely regarded as the poorest county in Kenya if the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Garissa County is excluded from the calculation. With HIV/AIDS rates at 12-25% in the county, it is clear that the county has many problems. However, as I’m not trained in the medical sciences, I deemed it more effective to provide education in what I knew: First Aid! My group of four, three from the UK and one local trainer, taught first aid to primary- and secondary school students at 5 schools in Ndhiwa Sub-County and assessed about 180 students by the end of the four weeks we spent there. Success!
The UK FAA Team in Ndhiwa 2016!
My motivation for teaching first aid was three-fold. I believe emergency first aid should be a universal skill that everyone is taught as it is vital for treating injuries in a way that maximises the changes of preserving life, preventing deterioration and promoting recovery. These are the “three Ps” which describe the duties of a first aider, so now you know a little more about first aid too! Additionally, I wanted to learn about Kenya and get to know a new country.
Ugali and green grams (mung beans), staple lunch food at the local “hotel” which are mostly restaurants.
When I travel I mostly worry about the unknown, and I realised in Kenya that what people worry about and struggle with is so individual. For some people the food was difficult to get accustomed to, for others it’s the absence of friends and family. For the record, I’ve come to love mung beans, though I will never understand the ugali (a “cake” made of boiled corn flour). And the mandazi, a doughnut like triangle, is my new favourite breakfast food!
Saying good bye to one of the schools we worked at, Rapedhi Primary School.
Instead, I found the greatest challenge to be working with the people from different backgrounds. I realised that I am so used to living, working and breathing with people from a very similar background as myself and it was a useful experience to get to know new people who didn’t have the same values, motivations and simply ways of existing. While this of course is common knowledge, it was such a valuable experience to be thrown out of my little university “bubble”, and I have learnt so much, about conflict management, team work and group dynamics, which I am sure will be useful in the future.
Obligatory sunset photo, this one from the shores of Lake Victoria on one of our days off.
Overall, teaching first aid has been an amazing experience, getting to know Kenya, learning about culture differences and how to overcome them. I’ll definitely miss the wonderful people we worked with, especially the local trainers, and the amazingly diverse and stunning landscape.