A Kenyan Contradiction; Tweeting while Sleeping with a Stranger in a Hospital
In this year of Jubilee, Kenya has made great strides to cope with the ever-evolving modernity. Twitter, face book, smart phones and super highways are becoming part of the city dwellers vocabulary. With these words becoming popular, it is logical to expect that these strides extend beyond vocabularies and form part of its landscape. Following the Kenyan media, one may assume that these are actuated realities.
But when we visited Togoni District hospital on behalf of the Timothy Project, we were introduced to Kenya’s contradictions. Sitting between Nairobi and Limuru Tigoni hospital is one of the main hospitals that cater for Kiambu counties 1.9 million citizens. It handles accidents, maternity needs, general family practice and all other major medical emergencies for a population of over 50 thousand people. Though surrounded by small clinics, it is the DISTRICT HOSPITAL! Pride in Kenya’s healthcare system.
Here, women with newborn babies shared beds. Each one sleeps with a baby facing the other side. The pharmacy was so disorganized; I thought it was a store. Outside the hospital, tens of people lined up to get treatment. Though it caters for emergency road accidents from the busy Nairobi –Nakuru road, it had no emergency room or any stretchers to receive patients from the ambulance, if they arrive in an ambulance at all! While everybody had a cell phone, the hospital has no emergency hot line!
Our host, Gerald Githinji, Deputy Governor Kiambu County, a former Diaspora himself is concerned that the government cannot satisfy many of the basic needs of its citizens. “The Jubilee government does not have the finances to meet the immensity of what is needed to establish a modern Kenyan medical system. We need to find other ways to supplement government service to the citizenly.” He says. He Calls his solution, “Imanisha”: Faith based initiative.
He takes his example from George W. Bush and Barack Obama who established offices of faith within the White House. “We have benefited from faith based institutions in Kenya for years. We must officially partner with them and encourage them to continue to build schools, hospitals and centers for the youth.” In this effort, Imanisha appealed to the Timothy Project. Timothy Project has helped other hospitals in the country. With grants from private donors like Health First of Brevard County Florida, Imanisha was there to guide them as they donated an emergency room stretcher to Tigoni Hospital.
In modern countries, technical words like tweets, emergency, ambulances, hospitals mean exactly that. But in many parts of Kenya, the words are nuances for the news anchors that want to sound, “civilized”.
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD), SYR Radio/TV, Director, International Desk. Diaspora Messenger Contributor