Mercy Medical Team in Turkana

When flying from Nairobi to Lodwar, Turkana, the landscape swiftly morphs from lush green hills to rocky, sandy desert. Hot air slaps you in the face as you deplane and head to the airport, scarcely more than a landing strip. After collecting my luggage and declining the offer of transportation from two young German men, I was picked up in an old Land Cruiser and ushered to the site of the clinic in the small village of Nataparkakono.

It had been two years since my last visit at a Mercy Medical Team, and it was a welcome change to be back without the riddling of culture shock. When I arrived, a thunderstorm storm began to roll in over the mountains and everyone smiled at me and thanked me for bringing the rain. As the first droplets began to fall and the wind whipped a beautiful chaos, the broad, dark faces of the patients standing in line split into wide smiles as they hurried to shelter. I ducked inside the calm of church-turned-clinic where American and Kenyan medical professionals worked side by side providing desperately needed health care to the inhabitants of this remote area. Their vitals already measured, the patients inside rested their heads on the cool of the cement walls, clutching their crumpled medical forms as they waited to be seen first by a doctor and then the pharmacists. Tirelessly, gently, the patients were cared for, free of charge, or taken to the local hospital for more advanced treatment.

Trying to be as invisible as possible, I crept around the site taking photographs. One of the volunteers in the pharmacy remarked how dignified one of the men looked, and I agreed. These people may lack monetary resources, but they are by no means without dignity or self-confidence. I consider myself blessed to have been allowed a small glimpse into their lives.

 A patient waits to be seen by a doctor at the clinic

A patient waits to be seen by a doctor at the clinic

 A group of women sit together outside as they wait to be seen 

A group of women sit together outside as they wait to be seen 

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 A beautiful Turkana man

A beautiful Turkana man

 Patients reacting to the message being shared in the evangelism tent

Patients reacting to the message being shared in the evangelism tent

 Career missionary Sarah Kanoy hangs an IV bag in the window of the church as patients wait outside.

Career missionary Sarah Kanoy hangs an IV bag in the window of the church as patients wait outside.

 The view out of malaria testing tent

The view out of malaria testing tent

 These women got a kick out of taking a picture of me while I was photographing them.

These women got a kick out of taking a picture of me while I was photographing them.

 One of the Kenyan nurses in the eye clinic

One of the Kenyan nurses in the eye clinic

 Patients waiting in line to be registered

Patients waiting in line to be registered

 Dr. Jeff Pruitt from Ohio works with his Kenyan counterpart to treat a patient.

Dr. Jeff Pruitt from Ohio works with his Kenyan counterpart to treat a patient.

 A Turkana woman who guessed she was around ninety years old.

A Turkana woman who guessed she was around ninety years old.

 A woman chasing children back to school

A woman chasing children back to school

Children from the village left messages for us on the road

 Career missionary Shara Cunningham talks to the children playing around the clinic site.

Career missionary Shara Cunningham talks to the children playing around the clinic site.

 Shara comforting a woman receiving an IV line

Shara comforting a woman receiving an IV line

 A woman pauses from building a hut to listen to a pastor speak.

A woman pauses from building a hut to listen to a pastor speak.

 This man walked fifteen days to visit his family in the area and to come to the clinic.

This man walked fifteen days to visit his family in the area and to come to the clinic.

 Sarah speaks reassuringly to a little girl receiving IV fluids.

Sarah speaks reassuringly to a little girl receiving IV fluids.

 MMT volunteer Brian Lund records the weight of one of the patients.

MMT volunteer Brian Lund records the weight of one of the patients.

 Children gathering to watch backflips in the courtyard

Children gathering to watch backflips in the courtyard