What to think about before coming
Based Upon information from Abha Light Foundation.
First: you will be jetlagged. If you never experienced jetlag, this will take you 2-5 days to overcome it. Be prepared for a heavy jetlag if you are from very far (USA or Australia). There are homeopathic or other aids available, if you choose. Cocc ind, arnica, aconite are all good for the purpose. Begin your African experience in acute prescribing with yourself!
Second: if you expect communications with your loved ones back home to be a snap, it isn't. Volunteers were expecting no problems with their Sprint and ATT cards and neither worked. You'll have to get a phone card and even that sometimes doesn't work! Better to arrange for your children or partner to call you when you come, not the other way about.
I'm finding with those leaving children behind, that homesickness may need to be coped with. Prepare your children and prepare yourself, too, for a long separation and not-easy communications.
Third:......ah, well... there's the rub.
Prepare your mind: it's not the same here as back home in any way, shape or form. If you have traveled to a country like India, then you'll get the idea. Kenya is in some ways like that.
Be ready for nothing to work right or smoothly. There are occassionly electricity and water shortages. Even in the best of times there isn't regular electricity. Nowadays it's worse. So the coming months are not going to be easy here and they're getting increasingly difficult for the people economically.....
The roads, telephones, email, the government, the buses... well, be prepared to have a lot of patience. You are used to instant email access and instant everything. Not here. Getting online is a trick, and once you do, downloading can drive you nuts.
Prepare as all your five senses will be assulted. Strange sounds, sights, smells, and even touch and taste will be different and shocking. You will be seeing "up close and personal" all that you have watched on CNN or BBC. But TV doesn't cut it. Watching a little sterile screen in the comfort of your home is nothing compared to the real thing.
That's like looking at a photo of an apple and expecting to taste it. You will be experiencing up close the suffering human conditions that is reality here. It's shocking and it's heart-tearing. We are not treating the patients at the school, we are going into the slums and villages where everything is an assult on your senses and your sensibilities.
Taste? Of course, corn flakes, etc are available here, but I don't usually eat them! (you're welcome to buy them when you get here) So your tastebuds and stomach will be assulted (insulted???), too. I do my best to accomodate my visitors, but there's just no way to do that 100%. As I've written before, it's "safe", but prepare yourself for "different".
Touch? Think of coming here something like "camping out" or "going trekking". But unlike camping out in your nearby National Park, where you can pack everything up in a Winnebago and have all your conveniences with you, it's more like survival camping.
I can't imagine what one can do to prepare for it .... except of course, I can think of some things:
PATIENCE is a big keyword here. So is OPEN MIND. Another important one is COMPASSION.
Patience and open mind will be tested in every sphere here -- from making a phone call to taking a taxi to treating your patients. If you are familiar with the old hippie adage "let it flow" you'll be much better off following it.
Compassion... well ... that's a special lesson in life. To have compassion isn't the same thing as sympathy or pity. Pity will break your heart; compassion will open it.
I will strongly suggest that your motives for coming to Kenya have to be seated in compassion and a desire to serve the people of Africa, and only second comes the desire to "look at some good cases and get clinical practice." This is not a laboratory or some teaching hospital, this is life. You will burn out quick if you are here with the wrong priorities.
I said before that I wouldn't preach to you my spiritual path, but I hope you are on some type of spiritual path or doing some inner practice. It will be a great help if you are. I suggest that you draw on those inner resources -- however you get to them-- so that you have all that you need to face this new and strange world.
I also hope I haven't just scared the hell out of you !!!!