January 26

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A Santa Clause in January

Upon receipt of the generous boxes from colleagues in GSK Korea including donations from individuals, I wanted to give them to the MOST NEEDED, not just any kid. With the help of my colleagues working on the KMC programmes who knows a lot about babies and children in poor condition, we decided to visit Pumwani Maternity Hospital and Nutrition center in Kibera.

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At KMC Unit in Pumwani Maternity Hospital

I handed over the box to Bridget who is managing KMC programme in Pumwani. She has been involved in KMC programme for more than 4 years as one of the initial participants to be trained of KMC in Kenya. She will hand out the goods to the most needed when they visit the facility for regular follow-up after discharge from KMC. That day, I was able to provide some T-shirts, pens, and candies to 2 of the most needed mothers who were in the ward by myself – Bridget let me know that they have bigger kids who need to go to school and they would appreciate this small gifts the most. It made me happy.

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At Kibera slum area

It was my first time visiting the Kibera even though it is not far from where I am staying. Upon entry of Kibera district, Pauline, my colleague, told me “Watch out for your phone and keep the window closed”. From this, I realized that this is the real slum apart from just poor areas that we’ve been visiting so far.

Also, in the middle of Kibera, I saw a few churches which were big, clean, and magnificently nice compared to its surrounding environments. It was obvious where the poor people’s money is going to. It is sad but also easily observed in any other poor towns or suburban areas near Nairobil.

Still, Kibera was a big town by itself. There were kids in school uniforms, barbershops, bars, diners, and market places in between those narrow, muddy alleys. Even though it may seem like a deserted hut, a hotel made of slate walls was also on operation.

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At Carolina Nutrition Center in Kibera

This nutrition center working to solve famine issues in the middle of Kibera was once supported by Save the Children, but now is fully funded by Carolina foundation. Not all the kid is allowed to enter the programme. They are screened based on physical exam including wrist size and others, and their homes are also visited by programme operators to check general situation. These kids can stay for 3 month at the maximum and they are discharged after clinician’s assessment – There was a small clinic right next to the building.

The nursery is run in a day-care system, so kids are dropped-off by their mothers at 9 AM and brought home back at 4 PM. They also support kids going to school by providing them a graduation pack when they reach certain level of nutrition to meet the exit criteria. It includes basic foods and some stationaries for schools. Most of the mothers are single mother who didn’t finish the school, so they are also encourage to go back to school.

Depending on their nutritional status, kids are given either moderate or severe nutrition emergency kit. The severe one is labeled red and has 500 kcal/sachet, and moderate one is labeled yellow with 300kcal/sachet. Each kid is given 1 – 3 sachets per day to bring home back depending on the nutritional status and progress. Since famine is not a problem of a single kid but the problem of the whole family, these sachets are expected to be added to the home meal when being cooked at home. However, to avoid selling sachets to others or giving inappropriate portion to the kid, the weight gain is measured regularly. Parents are requested to visit the center for 1:1 consultation if the kid’s growth rate doesn’t meet the expectancy to make sure kids can get appropriate portion of the nutritional supply.

Currently, the center has no financial problem to run the programme since they can plan the yearly expenditure quite precisely and most of the required expenditure were included in the yearly budget.

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We spent time at the nursery within the nutrition center to share some vitamin candies with babies and play with some crayons. Then we moved to one of primary schools in Kibera. Kids were thrilled to see Mzungu (foreigner) unlike the teacher who was happy to receive some stationaries for the classes. Kids were just happy enough with a random foreigner, camera, and photographing. Even without any indoor lighting, proper toilet, or desk, the kids were happy and classes are ongoing. It reminded me of my childhood and think how much more I’ve got at that time, not realizing that it was absolutely a privilege in the other part of the world.

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On one dry, sunny day in January, I was so happy to be a Santa Clause to deliver all these presents, kindly donated by generous friends in GSK Korea to the most needed kids in Kenya.

감사합니다 GSK 한국 여러분.

여러분들의 따뜻한 마음이 잘 전달되었다고 생각하며, 이 블로그로 감사 인사를 전합니다.