June 2 cont.
The meeting continued with a trip to meet the visitors from Mombasa. This was a small delegation from a larger organization from Mombasa that sets up “container clinics”, basically a packaged hospital in shipping containers that can be easily moved and put where it is needed. They were interested in expanding past Mombasa and chose Kibera because of apparent need. They had contacted an organization in Kibera to help locate an appropriate placement, and this organization in turn had contacted the Youth Network. The members of the network had selected a space on the hill of Raila and the delegation from Mombasa was excited to see the spot. There was a celebration to follow the presentation of the spot, with speeches from the youth leaders along with the men from the organization. They were doctors looking to serve the slum areas and they intended to send the container clinic to Kibera as an expansion of their program. I was immediately skeptical as I tend to be of the creation of any new NGO or clinic in a community like this. A few of my questions were asked of the representatives from the youth leaders. Yes, they were going to be doctors around. Yes, the organization was going to pay the doctors. Yes, there would be nominal fees paid by the community. Yes, it was their intent to stay at this site indefinitely.
However, I was still skeptical after hearing from the organization. Although the doctors kept insisting that the clinic would belong to the community, they did nothing to describe how this “belonging” would happen. Does that mean that the youth leaders were in charge of selecting management? Responsible for the outcomes of the clinic? Responsible for advertising? When asked what kind of services would be offered, the doctor said “whatever services you want!” Although this was met by applause I was not impressed as a blank slate offer for medical services was doubtful and it seemed that they had done little research into what the community wanted, the usefulness of each of the services, and the existing resources.
After introducing myself, the doctor said he had never heard of Carolina for Kibera. I motioned across the valley of houses to the Tabitha Clinic, easily spotted. “They run that clinic. There”. The man raised his eyes. Unimpressed. “Hm. Well we will run our clinic. Here”, he said as if eyeing up the competition. He turned and walked away.
While I was proud of the youth leaders I had met for facilitating another opportunity for health care in Kibera, I was sending up well wishes for the outcome of the new clinic and its impact on the community, who were apparently the new, although unknowingly new, proud owners of a clinic.