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Small steps can make a big difference

Posted by Lisa Ryujin, MD (a second year Ob/Gyn resident from Kaiser Permanente Oakland serving a global health elective at The Matibabu Foundation in Ugenya, Kenya). 


Finally home!

What a wonderful experience!  It was so inspiring to be part of this wonderful change that is happening in Ukwala.  Although progress is slow, the little steps marked success.  While in Ukwala, I had the opportunity to teach some of the clinical officers how to use their ultrasound machine, and found that even in the short while that I was there, we were continuously practicing on patients and diagnosed a few suspected breech positioned babies, as well as two cases of undiagnosed twins! 

I had the opportunity to visit many of the hospitals and primary care centers, participate in the teaching of the traditional birth attendants and discuss pertinent issues with the community health workers.  Matibabu is establishing long term ties and helping the community to become empowered and self sustained.  It was so encouraging to meet so many dedicated Kenyans who were making this change in their community a reality.

Perhaps one of the highlights of the trip was the friendships I had made, the wonderful nurses, clinical officers and medical officers became people I looked forward to seeing every day, and they invited me into their homes and to meet their families, I truly felt like I was one of the family.  One of the dedicated Matibabu staff even invited me to go to Sarah Obama’s house and have tea, as she is a strong advocate for woman’s health.  We talked (through a translator, but I did pick up some words in Luo) about women’s issues and how health care in Ukwala and Ugenya was improving.

Overall, this was a powerful and renewing experience, it reminded me that although at times, it can feel as though there is so much work to be done that it is paralyzing, small steps can make a big difference in communities.  And it is always worth it to try to be part of that change.

(from left to right) Me, Mama Sarah Obama, and one of the nurses at Sarah Obama's house in Kogelo


Meeting with the Traditional birth attendants


Practicing ultrasound in clinic.
Dedicated staff at the Matibabu site.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Hi Lisa!
    I am one of your patients at Oakland Medical Center.
    I saw you last year in December for the first (and so far only) time.
    I was inspired by you at the time but reading what you did in Kenya is even more inspiring!
    It also makes me reconsider my career path…
    Keep up the good work!!! The world needs people like you!


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