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.
Children from the village left messages for us on the road