I haven’t said much about what we were all doing yet! We were a team of about six, medics and logisticians. The project was focussed on training primary health care workers, midwives, hygiene promoters as well as providing primary health care and treatment for a terrible disease called Kala-azar (visceral leishmeniasis) which had a 95% mortality rate without treatment. We also dug latrines and distributed mosquito nets as well as targeted trachoma prevention in our work with the hygiene promoters. In case this makes me sound like some kind of hero, my job was very much coordinating and facilitating rather than doing!
The relationship with the rebel army and the King of Shilluk were both very key to the success of our work. The King sent me (for the team) a prize young bull, I gave him a pen…! We didn’t look after the bull very well and in the end it served us for an end of year feast for all our primary health care workers and team!
Every 4 to 6 weeks I would head off to Kenya for R&R, we were given one day for every week we were in the field. I found the beautiful Woburn Residence Club in Malindi on the coast of Kenya. It is still run by an Ely and Franco who trained their chef in Italian cookery. It so happens that most of the times I went there, I was one of a hand full of guests so I often got ‘taylor made’ meals from the chef. I loved being there, it was always refreshing and resting, Ely and Franco have a real gift in hospitality and welcomed me into their lives.
If you get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it! http://www.woburnresidencemalindi.com
In the end, the harsh climate and stress from the potential insecurity in the area took its toll on my body and although my contract was for a year and Tearfund were hatching plans for even more work for me down the line, I had to leave. I spent a month in Nairobi seeing doctors, having treatment and running tests, but I didn’t improve and it was decided that I needed to come home. To be in the field in Sudan one had to be fit enough to go on the run in the bush for 24 hours at least, and I was no where near that! It eventually emerged that the giardia, UTI’s, chronic tonsillitis and dehydration had left their mark and I was left with chronic fatigue. I was off sick for a year in which I wrote the book “letters to Kate”, but that’s another story for another time…