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Kenya Day Six- Turkey Time

June 28, 2012

African Grasshopper

So far we have visited Gichunge and Kithoka Primary Schools, Chogoria Hospital and today we visited Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) for a second time.  Every institution we have visited seems eager to build and maintain partnerships with the University of Michigan, and find ways in which we can collaborate.  Our visit to KEMU today was a continuation of our first visit since we were “interrupted” by an elephant visit.  Typical.  Really, how inconsiderate?  In any case, we spent this morning taking a formal tour of the university and had the opportunity to take a peek inside their health sciences classrooms, pathology laboratory, library, and outpatient medical clinic.  An oversized (this sucker was huge), bright green grasshopper was there to greet us at the door.  I did mention earlier that there were thoughts about super-sized insects here in Kenya.  This grasshopper, beetles, butterflies, and scary-looking wasp things are in fact significantly larger than the usual suspects found in the U.S., but thankfully enough there have been no monster spiders lurking about.

If they have been, then I will remain blissfully ignorant of such things.  But I digress, back to KEMU and other dental-related things.

Our tour of KEMU ended with the clinic.  Perhaps our timing was off, but  for better or worse the clinic was completely empty.  We were taken through all the exam rooms and were able to check out their new and expensive-looking dental chair that is currently being unused.

The administrative faculty are hoping to expand, if not fully create, dental education and with the collaboration of Univerisity of Michigan help will be possible.   After the tour we returned to the Thiiri Center for a quick lunch followed by community surveys.  Every weekday afternoon is spent going door-to-door doing community surveys.

Several modifications and improvements have been made thanks to Jesse Plummer and the help of the medical students who have come to Kenya.

I were to make any generalizations about the data, it seems that most people brush their teeth once a day and only visit the dentist if they are in pain.  The idea of a six-month recall seems laughable at this point.  Transportation doesn’t seem to be an issue, but cost certainly is.

Another memorable moment?  A turkey.  No, “the” turkey.  Yes, an actual turkey.  The very kind that finds it’s way onto your Thanksgiving table.  My survey group had just finished doing one household survey and were walking down the dusty, dirt road when we heard the turkey on the other side of a fence.  I pointed the turkey out to my sidekick, Simi, and we were able to catch glimpses of it through the fence.  The sound of a turkey is hilarious.  It doesn’t sound anywhere close to “gobble gobble,”  but more like a banshee gone wild.  Our translator surprised us by announcing that this was the next household we were to interview and there we were, face-to-face with the turkey.  The turkey strutted around the yard, making its banshee-like calls, and fluffing its feathers up in a very peacock-style manner.  We were  graciously  invited into the home of our respondent, an man in his sixties, and all four of us entered.  The interview began and we discussed his previous injuries from a car accident several years ago, how he lost a few of his teeth, and other miscellaneous topics.  The room was very small, and dark.

There were no windows and the only light was through the open door.  A kitten occasionally paid visits during the interview, and without warning there stood the turkey standing right outside the door and began making all kinds of noise.  The idea of the turkey entering the room with all six of us (four in our survey group, plus the respondent and his wife) seemed disastrous, but extremely comical.  I concluded the interview with some remarks on the importance of dental decay prevention and some tips on oral hygiene instructions, and thanked him for his time.  The turkey, true to form, made its ridiculous calls which continues to be played on repeat in my head like a random song that you haven’t heard in years, or perhaps recently in endo lab.

Good times.

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