2007.03.15: March 15, 2007: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Public Health: Savannah Morning News: Kathy Randall is a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Public health in Kenya

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: Peace Corps Kenya : Peace Corps Kenya: Newest Stories: 2007.03.15: March 15, 2007: Headlines: COS - Kenya: Public Health: Savannah Morning News: Kathy Randall is a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Public health in Kenya

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-249-83-39.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.249.83.39) on Monday, March 19, 2007 - 5:43 am: Edit Post

Kathy Randall is a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Public health in Kenya

Kathy Randall is a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Public health in Kenya

Sometimes, when I wonder whether I am making a difference or having an impact, God comes and lets me see a glimpse of how he is working through me. One on occasion, I had to walk to town for some eggs, bread, and milk. It is an hour-long round trip for me, a good bit of exercise. I had finished up with my purchases at the grocers, a nice little establishment that is smaller than my living room back home in Rincon and owned by a very polite Islamic family. Coming up the street, I saw one of the women, Robi, from a group I work with. We came to each other and embraced. I like her because she has reached that point that she can say whatever she wants. She's feisty. I caught from Robi's fast Swahili that she had walked all over town and was heading home when she saw me. We hadn't seen each other for about two months, and she was just as excited as could be. Robi calls me her daughter and tries to fatten me up as often as she can (in Kenya that's a good thing). What makes our relationship great is knowing I have made a difference in her life.

Kathy Randall is a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Public health in Kenya

A life in the Peace Corps: Public health volunteer in Kenya

EffinghamNow

For Effingham Now | Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 12:30 am

Caption: Kathy Randall, right, is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, Africa. She lives in a small town named Kajiado, in the middle of Masai land.

My name is Kathy Randall and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer living in Kenya, Africa. I live in a small town named Kajiado, in the middle of Masai land. The Masai are wonderful people, and I love living among them. Two hours south of Nairobi, Kajiado is cool-to-chilly at night and warm-to-hot during the day. I have electricity but no running water. I have no refrigerator, but I've learned which foods keep and which do not. And I have maps of the World, the US, and Kenya on my walls to help me keep my perspective.

Around the back of my house, I have a small kitchen garden growing maize and peas and sunflowers. The view that I see as I walk to my outdoor pit latrine, or choo, is of the secondary boys school and then mountains in the distance. On clear days, just as the sun rises and sets, I can catch a glimpse of Kilimanjaro on the horizon.

Every time I see that mountain, I catch my breath. The first time I saw it, I couldn't believe what was before my eyes; Kilimanjaro is almost a hundred miles away from where I live, but there it was. It is not the same as Hemingway saw it, because of the change in climate (locally, at least, global warming or not); the snows on the peak are melting and not being replenished. And yet, it is still a magnificent sight.

Made famous by the Leakey family and Donald Johanson as the birthplace of humanity, Kajiado is in the Rift Valley. Unfortunately, it is an arid area, with sparse, erratic rainfall. Trees are few and far between. One of the direct consequences of this is that there little firewood is available, and it is becoming an expensive commodity. Many women will spend half the day foraging for firewood. That is why I am working with Solar Cookers International (SCI).

Based in Sacramento, Calif. SCI is bringing the good news of free, clean solar energy for cooking and pasteurizing water to East Africa.

The solar panel cooker cuts in half the amount of wood to be gathered, freeing up the women to search for water or do any of the hundreds of tasks that must be done each day. On a good solar cooking day, the food will take about twice as long to cook as traditional methods, but with a little planning, the food will cook, and there is no fire to attend or smoke to get into the eyes or lungs. With practice, there is even less oil needed.

Solar cooking preserves the fragile nutrients that are damaged at high heat. The materials for a panel cooker are locally available and easy to assemble so that the women can learn to make them and sell them as an income-generating activity.

My activities differ from day to day, but my work is always with youth, women and my fellow staff members as we go on what we call "Mobiles." At the Africa Inland Church dispensary in Kajiado, we receive many clients, but we also go out into the interior to do mobile clinics as outreach.

These can be as far away as almost two hours off the tarmac, and totally off the Grid, completely no phone service. One of the places is called Mile 46, because it is on mile 46 of the railroad. Clients walk over an hour to these clinics just to have access to basic essential drugs.

In addition to clinics, we have Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) mobiles. VCT is a program throughout Kenya that was set up for one purpose alone: to test for HIV/AIDS. The HIV prevalence rate in Kenya is now at about seven to eight percent. VCT provides a confidential, immediate result for clients who choose to be tested.

VCT is a strong power in Kenya because the first step in protecting yourself and your partner is knowing your status and ways to remain negative or ways to prevent spreading the virus if you are positive. Testing as a couple is recommended.

A VCT session begins with the counselor establishing a rapport with the client to make sure that he or she is prepared to be tested. The test, a simple finger prick and two drops of blood on a test strip, is ready in 15 minutes. Both the client and the counselor read the result and confirm it.

The counselor goes over prevention techniques and ways to remain negative. If the client is seropositive, then he or she is referred to a counseling agency, the hospital, and given strategies to prevent the spread of the virus, protect partners and live healthily.

Since I live on the compound of both a primary and secondary boarding school, I have taken the opportunity to start a girls peer support group. We get together once a week and discuss ways to be assertive.

The gender roles here in Kenya are firmly established. Women and girls do most of the housework, while men make most of the decisions. Girls will drop out of school because they have to take care of the family if someone is sick. Also, if the family is unable to pay the school fees, the child will be sent home 'til payment is available.

The AIC primary school here is partnered with the Bride Rescue Program. Some families here in Kenya will marry their young girls to men so that they can receive cows in return as a dowry. Occasionally, the girls will run away but cannot return to their families.

My school takes these girls in and protects them from early marriage. I try to teach the girls life skills, so that they will know how to make hard decisions when difficult times come. Also, since talking about sex is taboo in Kenya, many girls don't know what is going on inside their bodies. They are embarrassed to ask their parents and so I have started to teach them about that also. I will answer any question that they put in my Question Box, an anonymous way for them to ask things that they couldn't or wouldn't otherwise.

Sometimes, when I wonder whether I am making a difference or having an impact, God comes and lets me see a glimpse of how he is working through me. One on occasion, I had to walk to town for some eggs, bread, and milk. It is an hour-long round trip for me, a good bit of exercise.

I had finished up with my purchases at the grocers, a nice little establishment that is smaller than my living room back home in Rincon and owned by a very polite Islamic family. Coming up the street, I saw one of the women, Robi, from a group I work with. We came to each other and embraced.

I like her because she has reached that point that she can say whatever she wants. She's feisty. I caught from Robi's fast Swahili that she had walked all over town and was heading home when she saw me. We hadn't seen each other for about two months, and she was just as excited as could be.

Robi calls me her daughter and tries to fatten me up as often as she can (in Kenya that's a good thing). What makes our relationship great is knowing I have made a difference in her life.

Here she is in a town I didn't even know existed, a Muslim that I would never have met if I hadn't decided to serve in the Peace Corps.

biography

Kathy Randall graduated from LaGrange College in May 2005 with a B.S. in Biology. Her volunteer service includes mission trips to Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Los Angeles and Biloxi, MS. She also served through Union Mission, Memorial Health, and the YMCA in the Savannah area while she was awaiting her Peace Corps assignment.

Randall is the daughter of Ashley and Laine Randall and a member of the Rincon United Methodist Church where her father is the pastor.

She began her service with the Peace Corps in May 2006. Her assignment will be complete in August 2008. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to www.peacecorps.gov.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: March, 2007; Peace Corps Kenya; Directory of Kenya RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Kenya RPCVs; Public Health





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Story Source: Savannah Morning News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kenya; Public Health

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