Here is, at long last, the new Babyccino Kids Charity (so sorry it has taken me so long to post about it). As you may remember we want to bring attention to smaller charities which don’t have the marketing budget of the bigger ones, but also need support, as they make a huge different in people’s lives. Justyn Strother and fellow blogger and talented photographer lives in Kenya with her husband and four children. She introduced us to Sally Test, a pediatrics centre in Western Kenya. Here she will explain all about it…
My name is Justyn Strother. I am a mother of four, a photographer, and the wife of a Medical Oncologist working in Western Kenya through the IU/Kenya partnership. I hope today to tell you a bit about a very special place in our city of Eldoret that needs your help : Sally Test Paediatrics Center. When we arrived here 6 months ago, four little ones in tow, I had no idea what to expect. My husband had been here to work several times during his fellowships but I was moving with four children 9, 7, 4 and 2, sight unseen. When we arrived I was determined to make a home for the family and busy trying to set up our “home school” as well as coming to know the country and the area that we now call home. The first part of that process for me was visiting Moi Teaching and referral hospital, the large public hospital where my husband would be practicing medicine for the next several years.
Naturally I gravitated towards the pediatric area of the hospital and was truly shocked by what I saw. The most shocking bit was not the sight of several children to a bed, the babies crying unattended in cribs or the smell… it was the lack of normal childhood sounds. No laughter, no play sounds, no toys. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a lively toddler being walked back to the ward, colorful picture in hand and a huge smile on his face, hand in hand with a smiling nurse. The difference between what I first saw when entering the ward and this “ray of sunlight” might as well have been night and day. I continued down the hall following the sounds of singing and came to a brightly colored room just off the main corridor filled with color, windows on three sides and, most importantly the sounds of happy children. It was the Sally Test Paediatrics Center.
In 2000, two doctors’ wives began going to the pediatric wards at Moi Teaching and referral Hospital with toys and coloring for the children. Gradually a full fledged afternoon play program was held between nursing stations each afternoon. In 2005 Sally Test donated money to build a playroom for hospitalized children which was completed in 2006. Soon it became clear that the mission of STPC needed to be enlarged to include the many abandoned babies brought to MTR Hospital each month.
Workers began to go to all the wards and it became evident that the children needed more than diversion: they and their caretakers needed explanations of what was happening to them and why (not a common part of treatment in Kenya). Nurses were hired in 2007 to move towards a full fledged Child Life program. In addition, in 2007 a program was begun for nearby rural clinics and in 2008 workers also began going to Webuye District Hospital.
The services being offered are not available ANYWHERE else in Western Kenya. In most public and district hospitals pediatric treatments are offered without explanation. Children who are in the hospital for long periods of time forgo education and babies and children abandoned at the hospital can only hope to receive the very minimum of sustenance and almost no interaction let alone play. It is a scene nothing like what one would see in any pediatric area in any hospital in the west regardless of the wealth of the hospital. The resources in this part of the world are too small and the need too great. In response to this, STPC offers the following services:
Classroom activities: During ward rounds children come to the Sally Test play room and choose from a variety of activities on their own. When a critical mass arrive children are involved in “units” that include story time, music, outdoor activities, crafts, dance problem solving and more.
Preparation for hospital procedures: Sally Test Child Life nurses spend time with children before procedures explaining what is to happen to them and ways to make it less scary of painful. Before children go to the Operating theaters or radiology they receive details pictorial and experiential explanations of what to expect.
Abandoned Babies: During the day abandoned infants ( up to 15 on any given day) and children brought to the hospital are cared for in the STPS Baby Area where they are bathed, fed, changed, weighed and taken for immunizations. Help is provided as children find foster parents or are committed to children’s homes in the Eldoret area.
Parent Classes: Twice weekly health classes are conducted for the parents of sick children covering a wide range of topics from disease processes, nutrition, the law or child development issues.
Ward Activities: Each day volunteers take toys, colouring activities, games , puzzles, books and crafts to the MTRH wards, surgery and anywhere that children are hospitalized but unable to come to the STPC.
Outreach: Teams from STPC go weekly to three nearby rural health centers and to the Webuye district hospital to conduct classes for both parents and children.
Library Services: STPS provides a lending library (there are no other such libraries in western Kenya) to the AMPATH and MTRH staff. Our children’s library has over 3000 volumes which are available for use in the classroom, on the wards and within the MTRH community. Individuals may borrow three books a week.
Sewing Lessons: Purdue university Doctor of Pharmacy students won a grant that provides sewing lessons by a teacher from AMPATH’s Imani workshop for the parents of young patients on the MTRH wards.
These simple explanations do not begin to draw light to the huge amount accomplished by the STPC. ALL of the work is funded by private donations and occasional grant monies. The many supplies, diapers, staff and programs require an operating budget that is becoming more difficult to sustain through private donations during these difficult economic times. The private donations are getting smaller, while the need in an area stricken by drought and HIV is growing greater by the day. I humbly ask that if you are considering a charitable gift that you keep the STPC in mind. For many of these children, particularly those abandoned to the care of the hospital, the staff at Sally Test represents their family. The touch, food, clothing and love these babies and children receive is invaluable, but providing this care requires money.
In order to contribute please visit www.iukenya.org . The red “how to donate” button at the top of the screen will take you to the form for donations. If you put Sally Test in the “comments” section of the form you can be assured that 100% of your donation will come DIRECTLY to the STPC. No money will be used for institutional overhead. While you are on the site please feel free to browse the many videos, images and articles on the rest of the AMPATH / IUKenya work and how you can visit or get involved. THANK you for your consideration.