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A successful year for the Mivumoni Clinic treating Epilepsy - a condition common in Kenya, with the fits disabling young and old alike. Fr Joe Kengah reports encouraging progress - and yet more challenges.
He was visited in July by Fr Kieron and other supporters. His impressions are given later.
Fr Joe reports they pursued key objectives -
(a) Treating children/adults with epilepsy (Kifafa) to live a useful life with dignity;
(b) Making the community aware of the disease; to educate them to change their attitude and prejudices so as to support "clients"
Fr Joe says he "is moved when he sees how his Epilepsy clinic has improved not only the community, but the life style of individual clients. They are important as role models, so more victims are encouraged to seek treatment and take medication".
"Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers terribly." (Matthew 17:14)"
Father Joe's clients have a range of case histories - all with hope:
"Kamanthe, a lady 26 years' old, had failed to keep up visits to the clinic for almost a year. After discussion with her mother, Kamanthe is back at the clinc regularly. "So often carers to epileptic clients experience tiredness/burnout, so there a need to counsel the family, and understand their difficulties - but also to understand that the condition will get worse if clients don't continue with medication."
"Shukura is 25 years old and had his first fit when aged 10. He was brought to the clinic in Dec 02 - fearful of people and suffering countless fits. Since his epilepsy medication, he suffers just three fits a month."
"Nyondo is 7 and had his first fit when aged 3. He came for treatment this year - unable to stand or lift himself. "With regular medication, there is hope for him".
Some clients come for epileptic treatment - but develop other symptoms.
"Muthoka was just three when he came to the clinic in 2004 - a happy child. After coming regularly he disappeared from the clinic a year ago when his mother could no longer bring him to the clinic. During a follow up visit in March, the medical team found his head was swollen, and mother managed to bring to the next clinic. Since he comes from a poor family, the clinic arranged for a scan. This showed a huge tumour at the centre of his brain. During surgery, doctors discovered another growth. It was diagnosed as TB of the brain. "The good news is instead of further surgery, he was put on 9-12 months' TB treatment which should shrink the growth. After 38 days in hospital Muthoka returned home. His full recovery will take some time. The clinic is monitoring his progress."
In mid July they held the annual Mivumoni Epilepsy Awareness Day - gathering together clients, family members, community and leaders - e.g. chief elders, district officers, medical officers. They focussed on (a) continuing care of clients and (b) educating Mivumoni's growing community, to the plight of epilepsy clients.
The Clinic's efforts were featured in local news media. Epilepsy awareness was brought to all parishes of the Diocese of Mombasa: Father Joe's clinic at Mivumoni is a model which they can emulate.
As a social 'extra', Mivumoni parish donated 18 hybrid goats to poor families supporting orphans - with a condition that the first female goat born will be given to the parish, to benefit yet another family.
1 To provide health awareness to young mothers even before pregnancy - to prevent epilepsy in infants.
2 To assist seven clients, who are unable to speak, to acquire some communication ability - i.e. sign language.
3 Almost thirty per cent of clients in distant places cannot receive treatment on location. To make up for their difficulty in travelling, medications lasting for two to three months are prescribed for those with stabilized conditions.
"Good people will be remembered as a blessing" (Prov. 10:7)
Father Joe notes that UK visitors included 'Elizabeth'; Fr Kieron O'Brien, 'Valerie' and the Greenaways (from Easthampnett). "The Mivumoni community were grateful to put faces to names and and give personal thanks for their continued support."
The Greenaways run the Bombululu fund - donating 45 desks to the Primary school and bags of cement for the floor of the Nursery school. Their son Simon donated 24 soccer uniforms to the Secondary school.
Valerie shared her talent for drama and dance with the women's group and the primary school students.
Fr Joe closes again with his thanks.
To Our Friends and Benefactors:
Words can't express our joy and gratitude for opening your hearts to Mivumoni community especially the Epilepsy Clients. May God's Blessings be yours evermore!!!
Fr Joe Kengah