Meaghan Flatley, Class of 2011, is currently attending Siena College and isenrolled in the prestigious Albany Medical College Program. As part of this program, the students participate in a “summer of service” experience to live and work among the “poor and marginalized.” This past summer, Meaghan and two of her classmates went to Kenya and spent six weeks living at the Marigat Catholic Mission with five Franciscan sisters.
The following is her reflection on the experience:
We worked at a medical clinic, learned about Kenyan culture, visited villages and schools in the area, and met some amazing people. The trip opened our eyes to the most extreme poverty any of us had ever seen. We were particularly impacted by our visit to the Turkana village. This area is basically a refugee camp for the Turkana tribes people who were forced from their land because of war with a neighboring tribe. The Turkana people in this area are rarely educated and do not have the means to make a living. Those who do work either; break stones to sell as gravel or brew alcohol, usually making about 100 shillings per day (less than $2).
There is a stigma attached to being from this land and therefore children are often turned away from schools in the area or denied scholarships that their grades have earned them. For this reason, the Alice Ingham Primary School was established for children from the Turkana Camp. The school continues to grow as does the acknowledgment that education is something to be valued. Sr. Ana, whom we had the privilege of living with, in Marigat, has devoted her life to these people and has been working closely with the principal of the primary school. When we met with the principal, she informed us of the many cases of students--often orphans in dire living situations--who come to school hungry and therefore spend the entire 12 hour school day without food. The government recently agreed to pay the teacher salaries at the school but refuses to set up a lunch program for the students. Sr. Ana works tirelessly for these people and recently organized a Clean Water Project, successfully bringing drinking water to the village and the school. She is on the front lines working with unmatched compassion and love, but there is only so much she can accomplish on her own. What she needs is money.
While in Marigat, we also had the privilege of working alongside Sr. Veronica, a nurse who runs the clinic. Along with her team, Sr. Veronica organizes 3-4 mobile clinics per week. On Mobile Clinic days, Sr. Vero drives a big white truck filled with medical supplies on some pretty questionable "roads" to nearby villages. On these Mobile Clinics as well as at the dispensary at the mission, the team administers vaccinations, examines pregnant women, and gives out necessary medications. The dispensary is constantly in need of supplies and is lacking much of the equipment that pharmacists and physicians here would consider vital. Sister Veronica's ability to improvise is unparalleled. Sr. Vero is currently working on expanding the clinic to include a maternity ward. (We can personally attest to the need for this ward after meeting Joyline, the 4th of July baby born on a classroom table at a local school).
As indescribable as the situation was, it was not surprising. We knew what we signed up for. What was surprising, however, was the realization that we have the ability to affect serious change in the area. We learned just how far our money can go, so we have setup a website to raise money to help.
On a more personal note, I must add that while reflecting upon how prepared I was for this trip reminds me that my faith, and as an extension of that, my love of service was strengthened during my four years at Holy Trinity.
Created on 10/8/2014 - Last updated on 2/5/2015