DON'T WORRY- Director's News
A Week Is A Long Time
It is often said a week is a long time in politics and without denigrating politics, let me try my own version of ‘ a week is a ……thing and apply it to Ruben centre this past week. Last Saturday afternoon I got a call from the clinic to come, as our birthing unit staff was caught in the drama of our first neo natal death. I spent a few hours with staff and the grieving mum. Our police post were informed and a statement made, more family called and finally arranging for a taxi to take them all to a near by town for a burial. Their culture dictates that a baby dying at birth should be buried on the same day.
It was all very sad and of course traumatic for our staff and for clinic administrators.
Ruben Centre’s birthing clinic‘ welcome to the real world’ of neo natal care.
Sunday and I went again to visit Ruben and clearly with some degree of apprehension, I asked the two nurses, ‘So what is it today?” and with great excitement they called out, “Mapacha or Twins …we had no idea “ and then excitedly went on with all the little details. I rushed in and was told I was late as mum had come in around 5.00am had the twins and by mid morning was showing off her wee treasures to the world and by 1.00pm gone.
I returned home reflecting on just how the two stories of yesterday and now today could be so different for the two mums. Oh my
Monday morning came and I had two meeting to begin the day with. The first was a review of all procedures and actions around the neo natal death and I quickly left that for the experts and went to the meeting with all our security team which we had summoned to review their performance of the Friday night. Around 2.00am a very pregnant woman came on a motorbike to the gate. Last week I had put up a sign saying, No motorbikes as they are an absolute menace to kids and adults alike. Such is the power of my word, that the four guards refused her entry. She pleaded but all to no avail.
She slid off the bike and gave birth at the gate. I was furious at their total lack of grey matter and the meeting was to hear their version of events and for me to try and understand how Murphy’s Law could have won the day or rather night.
Later I went to the bank and transferred $US 40,000 for an ambulance. Thanks (in the highest order, sana it is in Kiswahili ) to some great supporters, family and friends in Australia, this money has been raised.
For three weeks we have been listening to stories from half a dozen politicians, (among them the Nairobi County health minister and the county women’s representative ) about an ambulance they were giving to us, yet nothing was forthcoming and given the drama of the previous Saturday, we could not dare to wait any longer. Unfortunately the Kenyan government is in such disarray with corruption and debt and Ruben Centre would be just its next victim.
Tuesday I attended an emergency meeting with the Management Agency for US AID funds. Out of the blue, all thirty two on the ground implementing partners were called and to our shock and horror, were informed that US Foreign Aid was being cut and that beginning next month there would be a reduction in funds and only eight implementing partners would continue to receive funds. I didn’t really worry as Ruben had a great relationship with the Management Agency and often they had brought visitors to show off our work. They wanted organizations with muscle to carry big loads of HIV + orphan and vulnerable children (OVCs) was their statement and I truly believed that this was us. Friday we would officially be informed of our status.
In the evening I was asked by our leadership here to attend a meeting about the purchase of land for our other slum project Mary Rice Centre. Apparently the title of the land the project is on has been revoked and now these people from the deputy president’s office were trying to convince the brothers to give them $US 450,000 and in three days we would have a new title. Imagine ? The brothers have been trying to sort this land issue out for fifteen years and now here in three days. I recalled a wise old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, then it is probably not true.”
So running with this notion, I decided it was a scam and even if we got a title, it certainly wouldn’t be accompanied by a Deed Plan or Letter of Allotment and the whole affair would definitely qualify to be listed as fake. However, to prove their vice presidential power we agreed to meet at the immigration office the next morning and they would take me to the top floor and within minutes help me get my work visa sorted.
Wednesday morning saw me at the Immigration office and after waiting five minutes for my new friends, I went alone and somehow got shunted from one office to another and miraculously got the necessary document. I met my friends as I was leaving and in a brief stand off, I told them they were duds and a waste of space and should change careers. I haven’t heard from them again. Yes if it is too good to be true it probably isn’t.
Returning to the Centre I came back to earth having been informed that the slum sewer system is blocked and our septic tank is over flowing. It would take $US 1,000 and six tanker visits of this waste water company to reduce the level.
Thursday morning and I am sitting in the office and in comes a government auctioneer. He informed me that in December last year we lost a court case where a former employee charged the centre with negligence and we were fined US$ 3,000 damages. Our Advocate never informed us of this and the time for appeals had well and truly expired. I threw him out and rang the Advocate who back peddled and carried on. He has refused to meet with me up to now and even now as I write this auctioneer is coming first thing on Monday morning.
The Auctioneer was only gone a minute when our one and only newly seconded government birthing unit nurse came in and in a fit of ranting declaring that he needs the Centre to double his government wage, that all the other nurses are incompetent and that he is leaving. I was done at this point and wished him well.
Friday began and I was determined to turn around all this negative Karma and so organized to open our newly renovated toilets. The school population has reached three thousand and with it, plenty of demand for toilets. Thanks to St. Columban’s College in Brisbane Queensland, we were able to get a block into order, but my feeling good about this achievement melted quickly when I was informed that the septic tank was full again.
Our outlet has become and inlet.
Apparently because the drains in the slum are blocked and the river valley has been filled in by politicians for housing, the water from the slum flowed back through the septic outlet and filled the bloody thing. Two days only I got for my $1,000. Only one card to play now and that was to buy an electric pump and quietly pump water from the septic into the neighboring empty block, all the while hoping no one would report me to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)
Bev and myself, left Ruben and went to IZUZU motors to see how and when our ambulance would be delivered. She put in a spirited case for all the paper work is completed today as this ambulance might be needed over the weekend.
The day continued and every few hours I would check emails to see if US AID funding notification was there but nothing. Meanwhile at 5.00pm I got the message that the ambulance would come at 6.00pm. It proved to be yet another bit of fake news and I left after a call that indicated tomorrow.
AT 7.00pm I checked emails for one more time and there it was from US AID Managing Agency. Ruben would be cut from all funds by the end of August and arrangements would be made for the collection of data and computers. I was stunned, shocked and disbelieving.
Ringing our programs manager I told her the news and she too was disbelieving. How could this be? She then called a manager in the Agency and was informed,’ so sorry, but our agency has lost most of its funding and we have the capacity to only operate with four implementing partners. Down from thirty-two, and we were left just wondering what was the fate of our four funded staff, thirty community health volunteers and over three thousand OVCs. Imagine US$ 90,000 or ten percent of our budget gone like that? Why ?
Dr Google had the answers and a bit of information follows.
Georg W. Bush established in 2003, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and it has become the largest monetary commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
In its budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, the Trump administration is cutting some $800 million from the global fight against HIV and AIDS, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR has provided treatment to nearly 8 million HIV-infected people in developing countries and is estimated to have saved some 11 million lives.
Saturday came around again and I awoke wondering if there was life after (PEPFAR) funding. I sat and listed all the disasters and testing moments of this week and just breathed. I then checked on the gospel of the day and possibly more gob smacked than when getting the news about the loss of US AID.
‘Your heavenly Father knows what you need. Set your hearts on the kingdom and on righteousness and all other things will be given to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of it own.” “What about a bloody week,?’ I muttered.
So, with new found confidence, off I went facing today only, and to be at Ruben Centre for the ambulance.
And sure enough, this time it was not fake news. Money talks.
Our ambulance arrived at 10.00am as promised,with sirens blaring and lights flashing. Singing and dancing, slum dwellers poured into the Centre with it and we all cheered and lined up for a demonstration on its operations and at least a little sit in it. Elation, satisfaction, and relief all around. Fifty four mothers and babies in the first month without even trying and now with the new confidence associated with the ambulance, surely the Ruben birthing clinic numbers can only go skywards.
121 Kms on the metre
I grew up with my father’s favourite saying when I was pushing the boundaries,’ I will wipe the grin of your face before your much older,’ and so I have learn’t the dangers of getting ahead of myself and ………… just as well.
The ambulance was delivered with barely a cup of diesel (this is Africa) in it, so I jumped in with our newly employed driver to go and get some diesel. I went up the road with siren blazing and lights flashing to amusement of the hundreds of Mukuru people and equally to their amazement, I came back down on the back of a motor bike. Yes the grin wiped completely off my face.
As we went to fill it with diesel the fuel flowed out onto the ground. Can you believe it? It seems that with the altering of the chassis to construct the ambulance, the company had disconnected the fuel inlet from the fuel tank. I crept back to IZUZU and parked it there. “Monday,” they said.
May next week be better Heavenly Father.
But then correcting myself prayed .
Why worry ?
Let me accept each day as a blessing and an opportunity to practice a bit of good old fashion humility.