VMM Overseas Volunteer Programme 2003 - 2004. We supports projects in Africa and South America.
Names: Dr. Timothy & Elizabeth (Libby) Hughes
Positions: Medical Doctor/Consultant Anaesthetist / Training
Project: Mummies Mission Hospital
In 1932 the first Ursuline sisters of Bergen, the Netherlands, settled as Missionaries in Mumias and started giving medical care to the people. In the early 1940's the dispensary was extended to a small hospital with semi-permanent buildings. Permanent buildings in 1960 replaced these. In 1971 the first doctor was appointed. In 1983 the last Ursuline Sisters returned to the Netherlands. The hospital is now owned by the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega and has 264 beds.
St Mary's is a teaching hospital. The hospital works closely with the St Mary's School of Clinical Medicine to train Clinical Officers (Medical Assistants). The students receive most of their practical experience at the hospital and several employees of the hospital also teach at the school.
The chief objective of St Mary's Hospital is to provide preventative and curative health care services of good quality at an affordable price for all people in the catchement area. At the same time it contributes to the development of the Mumias by providing sustainable employment and health education services for the local community.
Name: Rebecca Horn
Position: Counselling Services Co-ordinator
Project: Kakuma Refugee Camp, JRS Team
Kenya hosts an estimated 200,000 refugees from various war torn countries of Africa living in diverse and difficult circumstances. The majority of refugees in Kenya today arrived in the country in the early 1990s in the wake of war, famine and the collapsed of governments in neighboring Somalia and Ethiopia. The civil war in South Sudan similarly contributed to large-scale displacement. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the continued insecurity in the Great Lakes region have further compounded the situation. It is UNHCR and government policy that all refugees who cannot support themselves have to live in designated camps.
Established in 1992, the Kakuma Refugee Camp has since grown considerably and has distinguished itself as a unique settlement of extraordinary human diversity, with its majority of young refugees. Due to the location of Kakuma, in the Turkana District of Northwest Kenya, close to the Sudanese border, it is natural that the camp be the point of refuge for people fleeing insecurity and famine in Southern Sudan. It is located in a harsh semi-arid zone in North-west Kenya near the boarder of Sudan and Uganda. Refugees in the Kakuma Refugee Camp include - Sudanese, Somali, Congolese, Rwandans, Burundian, Ethiopian, Ugandan and Eritrea. These refugees are leading their lives with merger support of UNHCR and implementing partners. Not only is Kakuma refugee camp home to these diverse nationalities and cultures, but also in many cases the refugee communities from each country comprises various ethnic groupings often being those in conflict in the home country.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has staff working in education and social services projects and education in Kakuma Camp. Projects in Kakuma consist of a scholarship project at secondary level and a distance-learning project at tertiary level. The scholarship project aims at providing promising refugee students the opportunity to study in Kenyan Secondary Schools alongside the local population and away from the stressful camp environment. The Distance Learning project was promoted by reflection on the particular situation of young students forced to interrupt their studies and run away from their countries of origin. The JRS set up a Distance-learning Centre in 1998, which is linked with the University of South Africa (UNISA). The objective is not only to fulfil the tertiary educational needs of refugees, but also to give them hope and prepare them as useful citizens in the future of their countries. Despite development made over the years since JRS began work in Kakuma, the education situation does not improve due to the continually growing / changing refugee population, and particularly the school-going population. To top it all, students face the harsh climate, unhealthy camp environment, insecurity and inadequate food rations. Nevertheless, many manage to obtain good results in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams and are called to attend secondary school on the same terms as Kenyans. These top students are potential University candidates, future leaders and professional people for their home country. Travel to and from school is difficult for refugee students due to shortages of public transport and the insecurity of the region as a whole.
Rebecca Horn (VM), a qualified Doctor of Psychology, joined the Social Services Project in the Kakuma Refugee Camp early in 2003. While in Kakuma, Rebecca will co-ordinate the camp counselling programme, build the capacity of the counsellors already working in Kakuma, and offer counselling and psychotherapy to the refugees according to their needs and context. A major part of Rebecca's work involves the training of approximately 50 refugee counterparts, who are already providing some level of counselling to residents in the camp.
JRS Social Services in Kakuma began in 1994. Originally the focus was on income-generating activities, but later the need for a Counselling Programme was identified due to the stress / tensions many refugees were suffering. Consultants from Kenya were requested to come to Kakuma to begin the counselling and alternative healing programmes. The JRS Counselling programme aims to play a role in promoting the refugee's humanity, self-reliance and dignity. It also aims to address the basic psychological needs of refugees by enhancing an individual's capacity of self-reliance and readiness to adequately use his / her personal resources - mentally, physically and emotionally. The Counselling Programmes provided to the refugees include - counselling for families, individuals and communities; alternative healing; daycare centers for rehabilitation; counselling for terminally ill patients and their families; HIV / AIDS awareness and counselling programmes; a safe haven and counselling for girls and women who have been physically / sexually violated. JRS Social Services also seeks to help the refugees to develop their income-making abilities, to promote and foster leadership training with the various ethnic groups. Difficulties arise because many of the refugee women are not educated and have too many domestic duties to be involved in activities outside the home. It is difficult to engage men in the Alternative Healing Programme because this is not a traditional activity for men. The Day Care Centres are forced to close when there are water shortages and they are constantly in need of structural improved / repair.
Name: Dr. Deirdre O'Gorman
Position: Medical Doctor (Medical / Surgery)
Project: Kakuma Mission Hospital
Kakuma Mission Hospital - one Doctor, a surgeon. Need a second doctor. Dr. Deirdre O' Gorman, a doctor with many years experience of working in East Africa.
Fifty kilometres north of Kitale, lies Ortum a small trading centre which caters for the largely nomadic communities who struggle to survive in this remote part of West Pokot. Set up in 1956 by the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary, Ortum Mission Hospital continues to provide affordable services despite the economic hardships of this isolated area where the communication and transport systems are poor and generators provide the only electricity. Drought is an all too frequent occurrence when the people have to depend on relief supplies for their day-to-day survival.
The 120-bed hospital admits on average 4000 patients per year with another 6000 attending the outpatient clinic. Less than half the patients can afford to pay anything towards the cost of their treatment. Malaria, pneumonia, premature births and anaemia are the problems most commonly treated, with unsurprising upsurges in the number of cases of TB (directly related to the widespread hunger in the region) and in HIV- related diseases. The hospital also runs a mobile clinic servicing 45 villages within a 60 km radius of Ortum. The hospital facility is supplemented by a nursing school, which offers training to approximately 100 students over a course lasting almost three years.
VMM volunteers John and Majella Fitzpatrick (VMs) returned to Ireland late 2002 after working in Ortum for two years to upgrade training and consolidate services offered by the local Mission Hospital. John, a pharmacist, organised and ran a course in clinical pharmacology for the nursing students, and promoted education on the use of drugs at village level as part of the community based healthcare programme. Majella was involved in the running of a local women's group and contributed her administrative skills to the newly established girls' secondary school.
Patsy Campbell (VM) worked with the staff of Ortum Mission Hospital from March 2001 to 2002. During that time Patsy worked with and trained local nurses in the areas of Midwifery and General Nursing. Patsy's main objectives were -