20.08: Arrival day
Today, we landed in Nairobi. We have been traveling for a long time, so it was very good to be at the ground again. We were picked up by the hotel service, and we got our rooms. I ended up sharing rooms with Carita and Marina, which is very nice. In addition to this, we went to the supermarket to buy groceries. Here, I realized that the food is very similar to the food I am used to. I was a little nervous about the food before, so it was a relief to see familiar food. So far, Nairobi seems to be a beautiful city. I think the city is more modern than I expected it to be. However, the traffic is interesting. It seems like they have no traffic rules, e.g. it seems like they push themselves forward in order to get into/out of a roundabout. Therefore, there are some cultural differences that I have noticed already. I am very excited for tomorrow, since we are going to Africa Mental Health Foundation.
In the beginning of the day, we had a welcome meeting with Dr. Christine. She seems very nice and welcoming. She gave us advice and security tips for our stay, which I found very helpful. We also visited the city with Hasting (employee of AMHF). He showed us a tower with a great view of the whole city, which was amazing. I am starting to like this city more and more. Everyone we have met so far are so nice, so I think we will have a nice time here.
When we arrived at the clinic today, we had a meeting with Frida (a clinical psychologist who works at the Woodley clinic that we will visit), Darius (employee of AMHF), and Dr. Christine. Here, we planned the rest of our stay. They informed us that we will mainly do data entry with a program called Redcap. However, they need some help with qualitative data entry in another program called nVivo, so I volunteered to do this. We are going to do a lot in the days that we are here, so I think we are going to experience a lot of different situations. I am very excited to visit the clinic, and to do office work in the foundation. They are very few people and they are very busy, so I think they will appreciate our help.
We also went with Darius to visit a traditional healer. He told us about his methods of healing. He usually cuts a cut in the client’s back and sucks out their blood by using a special tool. Afterwards, he examines the blood, diagnose them, and puts herbs into the cut. This sounded very weird, but he told us that he manages to help most clients that comes to him. Therefore, I believe that placebo can be an explanation for this. The traditional healer lives in the slum, so we got to see the slum as well. Kibera is the second largest slum in Africa, where approximately 250 000 people live. They were living very closely, and they did not have a lot of “basic resources” such as clean water. This was a little difficult for me to witness. I have always been grateful for my life and the opportunities I get because I was born in Norway. However, when you see something like that you start to appreciate your life even more.
Today, we drove with Darius and Hastings to meet traditional birth attendants. AMHF has helped the birth attendants with recognizing depression in pregnant women, so that they can help them. This is truly amazing, because less women commit suicide because of the birth attendants. When we were there, we got to help the birth attendants with their documents, and we got the chance to talk with them. This was a very powerful experience for me, and I am very grateful that I got the chance to meet these women.
Now I am at the hotel, and I am looking forward to tomorrow, since we are going to a safari. I really hope that we will see a lion and/or a leopard.
This day has been amazing. We started the day with going to a giraffe center, where we got to feed the giraffes. Afterwards, we went to the elephant orphanage, where we got to see the feeding of the elephants. They were beautiful. In addition to this, we went inside the Nairobi national park, where we saw zebras, buffalos, rhinos, lions (!!), giraffes, and antelopes.
Today, we had a rest day, where I got to work out and wash the clothes we wore to the slums. I also started to look at nVivo (the program I am going to use in the foundation), since they said that it is a little difficult to understand. However, I think I am starting to understand everything, so I am excited and prepared for tomorrow.
Throughout these three days, I have worked at the foundation. Here, I have used nVivo, Redcap, and I got to correct soon-to-be published research articles. When working with nVivo, I got to read interviews about the perception of mental health in Kenya (from community leaders, policy makers, youths, spiritual healers, etc.), which has been interesting because I get an idea of what the Kenyan population considers mental health to be. I really enjoy working for the foundation, and I have learned a lot that I will take with me in my personal and professional life. The people of the foundation are very nice to us, and I feel honored to get the chance to help them.
Today was my first day of visiting the clinic. The others had already been there, since we were told that we could not be there all at once. We got to talk to community health volunteers, who visit families in Kibera to check/evaluate their physical and mental health. They told us about their work, and we got the chance to ask them questions. I think that they are doing a very important and valuable work, even though they are not getting paid. I think time is very precious, so the fact that they spend several hours a day on this is very respectable. They have saved many lives by both helping other people themselves and referring them to the clinic (where they will talk with Frida, the psychologist). After visiting the clinic, we went back to the foundation. Here, I finished the first part of the nVivo project, and I started to correct a new research article.
We also visited the clinic today. We got to see two sessions, where Frida was the psychologist. Compared to therapy in Europe, it seems like she does more counseling rather than therapy. This is because the people in Kibera, who come to the clinic, need more guidance about general needs in life (e.g. how to get money, how to stay safe in the slum, etc.), even though they have symptoms of mental illnesses. Frida was also stricter with some of her clients, which is something I have not witnessed before. Therefore, I learned different and proper ways of the use of confrontation in therapy.
We also left Nairobi to visit Masai Mara. This was a 6-hour drive, where 1 hour of the drive was very bumpy. We are now in Masai Mara, where we got very fancy and pleasant rooms.
31.08 and 01.09:
On Saturday, we visited the safari park in Masai Mara, where we saw more lions, leopards, cheetahs, and other animals that we saw in Nairobi national park. We were very close to the lions and the elephants. The elephants were very curious, and they were the only animals that approached us. This was even more wonderful than the Nairobi national park.
On Sunday, we spent the whole day on traveling back to Nairobi and relaxing at the hotel.
Today, we had our last day in the foundation. Here, I finished correcting a research article, and I finished my nVivo project. It was a little sad to say goodbye to everyone, especially to Darius, since I have worked close with him. Everyone have treated us very nicely, and I am forever grateful for this experience.
We did a lot today. First, we were at the foundation, where we got to watch two sessions with Frida. After this, we said goodbye to her, and went to the city. Here, we visited a museum and a snake park. In addition to this, Levi (intern in AMHF) took us to a Kenyan restaurant, where we were served very good-tasting food. We also went to a bar, where we got to hear Kenyan music and experience more of the culture in Kenya. This was a complete and wonderful last day in Kenya.
Thank you so much for letting me participate in this project! I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to do this, and I would definitely do this again. I hope that you continue with your collaboration with Africa Mental Health Foundation in Kenya, because this trip was very influential and educational.