Kenya Visit – in which I am ill

If anyone had asked me a week ago, before I came to Africa, ‘have you ever suffered with sickness and diarrhoea?’ I would have nodded and said ‘of course, hasn’t everyone?’. But now my answer is ‘you haven’t properly experienced sickness and diarrhoea until you’ve had it in Africa’. On thursday night I hardly slept – I spent 7 hours in my bathroom. I was so sick that at times it felt like I had parted with my whole digestive system.

So on friday my colleagues decided I was too ill to visit our projects. I spent the day in bed, shivering and feeling icy cold inside. Every time I touched my skin it felt as if a fire was emanating from my body. I was so weak that walking to answer my door became a marathon, although it is only a few paces.

Last night when my colleagues returned to check on me, my fever had worsened. I was taken to the hospital in Mandera town where I was fortunate enough to be seen almost instantly – something that would never happen in my own hospital in the UK. Blood tests ruled out malaria, but I was diagnosed with severe dehydration and gastroenteritis. The doctors put me on a drip and I was filled with fluid, glucose, painkillers and antiobiotics. Within a few hours the fever dissipated and my strength slowly returned.

The doctors told me I had probably fallen ill due to contaminated water. Instantly, I thought of all the children I have met over the last few days who are also suffering with sickness and diarrhoea. I think the statistic is that across the world today 2.2 billion people don’t have access to clean water, although the tools and technologies that are needed to make this happen do exist. Unlike me, most of the people who fall ill as a result of consuming contaminated water will not receive the healthcare they need to recover. This experience has only reinforced me belief that Practical Action’s technology justice movement is needed now more than ever

One response to “Kenya Visit – in which I am ill”

  1. Omar Says:

    The Technology Justice movement is a very nice idea.

    I have seen a lot of writing on the PA website regarding the need for a rethink of the distribution of access to clean water / healthcare etc. While this is all well and good, it really lacks a transformative approach and simply picks up on justice theory that is slightly outdated.

    Instead of considering new ways to redistribute goods in order to achieve justice, perhaps PA could look at conceptualizing WHY these miscarriages of justice are happening in the first place? Why are these groups of people being misrecognized and disrespected? As well as this, what about the dominant issues of the political economy that contribute to this misrecognition and lack of participation in the processes which affect the people of Kenya?

    If PA considers this problem of access to water to be one of distribution, the right questions will never be asked and the same cycle will continue.

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