Thursday, October 11, 2012


Hello All
Well it’s been a while since I have last wrote. Last time it was the count down to the USA! Well I am back at site and trying to keep myself busy.

In August, I had a lot of meetings to attend. I went to the warden meeting which trained us on the safety protocols if anything should happen. However when I was gone in the US there was a mock consolidation exercise to get us prepared should we have to do this in the future. The consolidation is something that occurs if the Peace Corps Staff believe there is threat to the volunteers in country and they need to get them all to safe place. This is becoming more important because of the upcoming election and last election the Peace Corps volunteer were evacuated because of the violence that occurred. Don’t worry folks there is a lot of procedures that have been put into place to minimize the violence with this upcoming election. So we hope that this will not occur again, but we do need to be prepared. There probably will be a consolidation prior to the election just for precaution should anything arise. We all will be in safe place and it will be easier for us to get out if we have to. But I am thinking positive and I predict that everything will go smoothly. Last time I had mentioned my MI presentation and I can say that it was a success and I now have my Masters in Public Health!!! Now I am going to work on publishing my work. Wish me luck. Finally in August I went to cross sector which is a training that emphasis HIV/AIDS. We got to bring counterparts from our organizations and it was good to see my counterparts interacting and participating. In addition I got to see some volunteers that I had not seen for quite some time.

Then it was off to the USA! I was so excited to be coming home. Unfortunately the flight from Ethiopia to Canada was delayed by 2 hours, which made me miss my connecting flight from Canada to the US. So I was stuck in the Toronto airport for 8 hours L well I finally made it to the US and into Bryan’s arms! It felt so good to be home. Then the next day was Libby Kiser and Cory Scott’s wedding. It was amazing. So simple but elegant. It was so Libby and so perfect! The wedding was a little overwhelming because there was so many people that I had not seen for so long, good food, wine and dancing! I had a great time and loved seeing everybody again. Then the next day was a family get together at my brothers. Again a little overwhelming with all the people but so great to feel loved and appreciated. Then the next week was just spending time with the family and friends. It felt so good to be around my family again. My brother’s kids had grown so much and I got to see my newest nephew for the first time… what a cutie! At the end of the trip to Princeton my brother’s family, dad, Bryan and I went to Jellystone Park to camp. It was a nice little get away from the hustle and bustle of Princeton (I know you might disagree but we were on the go since I set foot in Princeton…lol). I had such a great time in Princeton seeing many friends, eating so much delicious home cooked meals, attending my 10 year reunion, and just catching up on the much needed love and support of all the people around me. Then Bryan and I finished my vacation with a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks. We went horseback riding, hiking, visited the beach and most importantly just got to spend time with each other. Having a long distance relationship an ocean and continent away has not been easy but we are managing and this trip just solidified the feelings I have for him (sorry getting cheesy…lol). Then it was back to Chicago to fly out. It was so hard to leave again and this time I knew what I was going back to, not that I do not enjoy Kenya but having been around family and friends it was very hard to board the plane again knowing that it would be a years time until I would be back on US soil. All in all my trip was exactly what I needed- a rejuvenation to get me through the next year of service! 

Now I am back at site and trying to stay busy. My funding for my jiggers project came through (Thanks to all that donated!) so this is what I have been doing since I came back from the states. I am planning on having the outreach on Nov. 24th and treating 100 people. I am so excited to be doing this and I look forward to the end results of hopefully giving people in my village a better quality of life! Well I think that is the update I have for you all and I will update you on the jiggers project. Thanks for reading.

Sending Love from Kenya,
Joy Kay

PS- sorry no pics my memory is full and my hard drive is not working. Maybe next time

Monday, August 6, 2012

July/August- Count down to the USA

July/August- The USA Count Down Begins!

In July not much happened besides working on my Master’s International Paper and presentation. I will be so glad when this is done. I hope to present on the 23rd of August and then will( if I pass) have my MPH!! Also in July I went to visit the new Public Health training group. It was weird to be back as an actual volunteer and not a trainee like I was last year. The group seems very cool and eager to start their adventure in Kenya. There are some new volunteers coming close to my site and I look forward to working and hanging out with them. Well I said hello to a lot of new volunteers this month but also had to say goodbye to a lot of the old volunteers. They were closing their service in July and it was very hard to see them leave. They had shown us the ropes and been there for us when we needed them. It was a bitter sweet moment knowing that I would be in that position in 1 years time! The first year has really gone by fast and everyone says that the second goes by much quicker.

So with actual work like I said I was pretty busy with the MI project but I did manage to get a team together to participate in the Math and Science Olympics put on by PC volunteers in the schools all around Kenya. This competition will take place in September where each team will have a chance to become the regional champion after completing a math and science test. The school to score the highest will then be able to participate for the national title! I love competition and Science so I thought this was something I would enjoy. Also it gets the kids continuing to study and stay motivated on these subjects, which tend to be the hardest among the subjects they study in secondary school. I will let you know how our team does. Go KIMALEWA!

The other thing that has really been taking my time is my garden. It is my very first garden and it is thriving. Thanks to many of my Kenyan neighbors suggestions. I am trying to be an example in the community on how to plant and harvest more nutritional foods. I hope to harvest most of the things once I return from my trip back to the states. My neighbor will be watching it while I will be gone. Lets hope it continues to grow. The patients and family members of the patients that visit the hospital are very curious of the garden and I have been trying to educate them on the garden and the benefits of growing more than just maze and beans. We will see how it goes. Here are some pics of the garden thus far.

Regarding my organization, we are getting funded with 300,000=/ which is close to about $4,000 to implement HIV/AIDS related activities. So I hope when I return from my vacation I will be part of the implementation process. This is a lot of money and I hope we put it to good use. The plan is to desensitize the community on PLWHA (People living with HIV/AIDS) and how they can contribute to the society and hopefully we can work on the stigma associated with PLWHA. In addition we hope to counsel discordant couples (couples in which one is + and one is -) about the importance of using condoms. This is something I have not actually worked with and I am excited to learn and participate in the implementation of this.

The last thing that is very interesting is that I am hopefully going to attend a circumcision ceremony. In the Bukusu culture it is a tradition to circumcise the males during even numbers years. The males are aged 12-16, and this ceremony symbolizes his coming into manhood. There is a lot of traditional activities that take place – well what I have heard- but I hope to attend and see for myself. Oh and the circumcision is done with a knife and now anesthesia. If the boy cries or shows pain this brings embarrassment to the family and the boy is deemed weak. I will let you know how this goes as well…lol

Finally at the end of August I will be very busy with meetings, trainings and medical business. I was chosen to be a warden of my area, which means that I will be in charge of getting all the volunteers in my area to the consolidation point if anything occurs with safety in the country. The training for this is on the 17th of August. Then shortly after this I will attend Mid-service medical where I will go through a lot of tests and meds to make sure I am still healthy to serve the remainder of the next year. Finally at the end of August I will attend cross sector, which is in Kisumu, and I will be attending trainings on HIV/AIDS. Then last but not least on August 31st  I will be boarding a plane for the USA!!! I am going to attend my friend Libby’s wedding, my highschool reunion and just get in much needed quality time with everyone back at home. It has been over a year and I really need this rejuvenating vacation. I will be in Princeton from September 1st until the 17th so I hope to see you all soon.

Well I thinks that sums up my last few months
Sending love from Kenya

Friday, June 22, 2012


In the last few months not much has been happening with my organization. It seems since there is no money coming in that there is no work to do. This is a bit frustrating because when I first got here we were doing things without funds. Now I think that newness or volunteerism attitude has faded. I am still trying to work through this and we are supposedly getting funding soon from the Ministry of Health for HIV/AIDS related activities. SO I hope that I will be busy soon. Well anyway I did go to a stakeholders meeting that brought together all the people in the district that dealt with health. This was very interesting and helpful to see the people that I could possibly work with in the future and to understand what their roles are in the overall improvement of health in Kenya. In addition to that the majority of May and June has been working on my Master’s international research project. Which is on jiggers and the impact that the people experience here from the disease. Over half of the residents of the village I collected data in have jiggers and this is the off season- so even more will have it come the drought season. I finished the data collection portion and now I am working on the paper and will present it at the end of August and hopefully receive my MPH…finally.  I also nominated two girls to attend camp GLOW (girls leading our world) and they got accepted and will be participating in August. This camp is provided by PEPFAR funding to encourage girl empowerment and leadership. I hope my girls will learn a lot and have fun! I unfortunately was not picked to attend with them but Breezie will make sure they are doing well during the camp, I am sure of this J I did however get chosen to go to the PST (pre-service training) for the new volunteers that arrived in June. I can’t believe it’s been 1 year since I have been in Kenya. When I help with the PST I will be talking about working with Community Health Workers. I am eager to go back to the training site and see my host family and be back in the place were it all started. It will good to go back and reflect on how far I have come. In May we also celebrated Breezie’s Bday- Jersey Shore Style…lol We dressed up as they would and had a house party at Hannah’s. I never thought that coming to peace corps that I would get up-to-date on Jersey Shore and even dress up as Snookie…lol Well it was a blast and fun to see all the other volunteers. This coming weekend I will be celebrating the 4th of July as well as the departure of the Business/Public Health group that came before us. It will be mixed emotions to see them leave. They have been the leaders and mentors for us along this journey and now we will be taking this role. One that I hope to fill as they did for us. The exciting news of this month- I bought my ticket home! I will be home September 1st-22nd. I cannot wait it will be very busy but I can’t wait to see my BF, friends and family- and Libby get married! I am only going to be in Princeton but anyone is welcome to come visit me. And the last thing. I got approved for a Peace Corps Partnership Grant. This program allows Peace Corps volunteers to choose organizations and individuals from the US to try to raise funds to support a volunteers project overseas. My project is that I want to treat and cure 100 people of jiggers- a very horrible neglected disease that Kenyans are facing here. I hope with this project to show the correct way to treat and cure. Currently the treatment is less than adequate and not making a lasting impact. So please check out my page on the Peace Corps website, pass the info along to whomever and if you want more info don’t be afraid to ask. Thanks in advance for your support.

Here is the website:

Well until next time:
Sending love from Kenya
Joy J

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Update of my life in Kenya

Ok people I am so sorry that is has been almost 6 months since I have posted anything on my blog. For some reason I am really bad at this and for a while the blogspot would not work on my computer. But now I have gotten it back working and I am going to try to be much better at this and do it every month. I said I will try! Anyway I am going to just give you a run down of the last 6 months- short and sweet (kinda). So here goes
November- I finished up my Community needs assessment and started to try to find the out exactly what projects my organization wanted to do. This was very hard because they want to do everything but they do not have funds or enough time for all this. I tried to tell them to focus their efforts but this has been a hard concept to get across. Another thing I did in Nov. was my organization (Kuywa Primary Health Care- KPHC) wanted a meeting place and since there was a nice room only being used for storing of very old and not really useful things I suggested that this room that is on my hospital compound be used. They agreed and we cleaned it up and now we have a meeting room! The pic below is us cleaning our meeting room. If you can see in the picture my co-worker Irene really loves my bike helmet and wears it everywhere.
December- I started out December with Inservice Training (IST). IST is two weeks of training where we learn about numerous things that we can hopefully take back to site and use in some projects. The best part of IST is seeing the other volunteers that we had not seen for three months since Pre-service training (PST). It was so good seeing everyone and to learn about what they are doing at site. I also went to Hell's Gate gorge. It is beautiful! We had to bike ride about 30 mins to the gorge and then we started the hike. It was amazing. They also said that this is the place that the Lion King's sketches were done and some other movies had been filmed there as well. We could not got to the hot springs because it was raining and there were going to be flash flood. It is very dangerous if you get caught in the gorge during this. Oh and what a flash flood it was- see pic below! But I have to say that this was one of the best days in Kenya that I had thus far. The rest of IST was good, with good food, football, volleyball, drinking, and oh yeah Then I went back to site and it was about time for my bday. My neighbor Breezie and I went to hike Mt. Elgon which was a long but great hike. She also got me some chips and wine for my bday present. Also in December I had a sports day that was very successful. We started the day with talks, songs, skits, dances that were all about HIV/AIDS. Then we progressed to the sports- volleyball, football (soccer) and handball. All was a success but some people were upset that there were no refreshments or prizes. It made me a bit upset that people can't just come to an event. They always expect something for them going. Lastly in December I celebrated xmas at my friends Hannah's house. Hannah's house is like a mansion with running water, flushing toilets, a gazebo and a river close by. Good to be with friends on the holiday. Some pics of the December adventures below.

January- So I started out this month going to a fellow PCV's site on an island for NYE! We celebrated with food, drinks, a bonfire and a trip to a secluded island. It was a great way to get away and celebrate the new year. During this trip I killed a chicken for the first time. As a matter of fact that was the first thing that I ever killed- EVER. I know if you know my family that may be surprising but I guess I did not follow the Storm's way for the killing of the  animals. After the NYE celebration I went back to site and planted some maringa trees. These trees are very nutritious and can be used for a food source for a very long time. I planted these trees at all of the schools I work at - 7 in total. Then I started a few health clubs teaching life skills. These clubs are voluntary and I discuss health topics such as HIV/AIDS, healthy relationships, sex, and a whole bunch of other things. The students love it because they don't have a lot of options to get this type of education. It is a bit challenging but I really love to teach, never thought I would say that.

February- This month I continued to teach lifeskills to which I am truly amazed at how little the students know about sex and the consequences that go with it. In Kenya it is thought if you start to talk about sex then the students will start to have a lot of it. Well I just want them to know they are already having a lot of sex!! I have a anonymous question box and you should here some of the questions I get. It's sad and I just hope that over the next two years I can have a little impact on sex education in the schools. During this month I saw a baby get born. It was so amazing and extremely simple. No monitors, no IV's just a medal piece of equipment that looks like a very small megaphone that the nurse using to hear the fetal heart rate. I tried it and it was so hard to hear. They just let the mother labor for as long as they think is healthy and then once the mother is ready she pushes and here comes the baby. After the birth the baby was not breathing very good and I was looking around for all the medical supplies I might need. They did have one ambu bag but it was so dusty and on the top shelf I was sure it had never been used. They just flicked the baby in the head about 10 times and shook it and it started crying. It was still a little blue but they were satisfied it would be ok. After about 2 hours after giving birth the baby and the mother are sent home on a motorcycle to go about their rest of the day. It was so interesting to see a birth in a such different circumstances. I am so glad that if I ever have a baby (which I really do not want to) that I have all the medical advancements, however I just couldn't get myself to stop thinking that America really needs to simplify some things. Well I ended the month attending an eye clinic. It was put on by Breezie's organization. They did over 50 eye surgeries that only cost about $10 to do cataract surgeries!

March- I started this month off with International women's day where we had a sports day again. This time we discussed women's issues and then played sports. My team won the 1st place trophy for volleyball! I also identified 5 people in my village that need wheelchairs since i found an organization that was giving them away. These 5 people, 3 of which were children, crawled around to get from place to place. Two out of the three students were not allowed to come to school because they were to heavy to by carried from place to place. Now with the new wheelchairs the students can go back to school. They were so excited for the wheelchairs! I also celebrated St. Patty's day where I went and met some other PCV's at a pool where we ate good food and drank some beer (unfortunately it was not green). Then at the end of the month I attended PST training planning. This was a 4 day workshop that took place in Nairobi with the PC admin to help plan the new PST training for the new volunteers coming in June. I can't believe that I have almost been in Kenya for 1 year. It is crazy. It felt good knowing that what some of us said will be Incorporated into the training. 

April- Now it brings us to April. April has been a big month for me. I have started my research project through GW to identify the jiggers problem in my village. Jiggers is a horrible neglected tropical disease that affects several individuals in my village. It is a flea that burrows into the skin and then leaves an ulcer after laying it's eggs. Throughout time more and more infestation happens. It can lead to ulcers, infection, tetanus, trouble walking, school absentee, work absentee, and even death. My hope is use this research to get funding for jiggers eradication. I am starting the funding for this through the Peace Corps Partnership Program. It is a program that lets the PCV choose who they want to have donate from the US (ex- former employers, groups, individuals, etc) and they raise money to help fund the project. The other part of April has all been fun. We went white water rafting on the Nile River in Uganda and I also went Bungee jumping. It was so scary but so fun. My friend Cara also came to visit during this time. She really got the village life- she helped catch rainwater for doing laundry, had a couple nights without electricity, no fridge, real hectic transport and hiking the slopes of Mt. Kenya. I really enjoyed having someone from home share this experience with me. I really miss having her as my roommate.

So this brings me to the present. Again sorry for the delay and I hope that I will be better at this blog. I am going to try to blog once a month. We will see. Also check out my FB pics and video of my bungee jump. Miss you all 

Love from Kenya