So, Lisa and I have been reading everything on the news that we can, as well as waiting patiently for e-mails from the IU Kenya program. We appreciate everyone who has e-mailed or called to give us an extra piece of info. We received this morning another e-mail that painted a bleaker picture than the following. We haven't made a final decision, but both of us are leaning toward canceling our trip unless things change dramatically. As I have told some of you on the phone, we are in no way turning our backs on the program. There is no question that we will be returning to Kenya, the only question is when.
Please read the message from Joe Mamlin below. Obviously, travel remains up in the air and we continue to monitor the situation on a constant basis.
I find comfort as I take a moment amid the madness here to catch you up a bit on what we see on the ground.
First, let me assure you that Sarah Ellen and I are safe and fine. We feel fortunate in getting the US community out of here for the time being. Our British friends will fly out on a charter today if we can find fuel for the plane.
As far as I know, we have not lost a single AMPATH staff member or patient. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to run clinics since there are no matatus [van-taxi] running. It took almost three hours for one of our pharmacist to walk by foot to give us access to drugs. Most staff are busy securing safety of loved ones and most patients are either afraid or can’t travel. We will have some fairly unique decisions to make if we can’t move supplies around safely and soon.
I took heart in an ER this morning when I no longer needed to step over a body.
Eldoret is quiet today but all roads in and out remain blocked by unpredictable gangs. Many residential areas of Eldoret are insecure and many of our friends are simply scared to death. We are doing all we can to help with the food and shelter needs of our Kenyan friends seeking safety.
We can find food as of today since a few markets reopened. And we have our farms. Can’t get the food out to patients so will harvest food to help feed our compound and the many refugee centers that have popped up in churches and jails.
We have seen some things over the last few days that cannot be described in this note. We have witnessed sad evidence that we as a human family have a lot of growing yet to do. When you think a moment, you realize the IU-Kenya Program is at its core symbolizes what is so critically needed by Kenyan leadership. This is not a program dedicated to building medical schools or even stamping out a pandemic. At its heart, it is a program that screams “Yes” in a world to ready to say “No”. This program puts love and compassion front and center. Those values build the rest. When that message is embraced here, we can go home. We are unable to stop what is now happening, but we are rock solid in keeping to our core message.
Deep in our heart, Sarah Ellen and I believe Kenya will find a way to move back from the abyss now staring them in the face. As they reclaim their lives, programs and pride the IU-Kenya program will be there for them. Please do not be discouraged. Stay with us as we stay with our Kenyan family. Shortly they will need us all more than ever.
Pray for each other as we go forward with hope one day at a time.
Joe and Sarah Ellen