Thursday, April 21, 2016


From the moment you drop down into and make your passage  through the Great Rift Valley and spy baboons on the side of the road to the picturesque first sunrise creeping up over Lake Victoria, you cannot deny the beauty that Kenya has to offer. And then there is Botswana, the abundant wildlife is something out of National Geographic! Within minutes of crossing the border from Zambia I gaze upon elephants and giraffes on the side of the road grazing on the tall grass or eating from the even taller trees, they roam as it seems to me unaffected by my presence. If the amazing wildlife in Botswana doesn’t get to you, the beauty of the waterfalls in Zambia, of one of the 7 natural wonders of the world will. Victoria Falls is breath taking, the massive amount of water cascading down, creating rainbows and a mist of water so heavy that you are drenched when you leave. You have to take pictures, it’s hard sometimes to take in all you do and see in a day, you go back later and look at photos remembering things that you forgot so quickly because the next beautiful moment presented itself and you were caught up in it.-- Purple Slip Girl
                                                                The Great Rift Valley
                                       Yep, that's an elephant getting ready to cross the road!

                                                       Oh and a giraffe just hanging out!
                                                 My first view of Victoria Falls, amazing!
                                              On of the seven natural wonders of the world
                                         One of our amazing sunsets while on Rusinga Island

I am often asked why I go on mission trips? Besides the obvious answer “ I go to give of my time and talents, to help share my medical training” That was the first reason I wanted to go, but in reality, I love to travel and I love adventure, and every once in a while I like being out of my comfort zone. So with this blog post I thought I would address why you would want to join Project Humanity and travel with us to Africa!

If you aren’t medically trained, why do you go on a mission trip over seas with a non profit, giving up almost 2 weeks of time that you could be spending at a beach or in the mountains in the US, or just sleeping in.

Do you get up everyday doing the same thing over and over and ask yourself, is this what life has to offer? Is this it, the same thing over and over again, day in and day out? Is this what my life is, going to work, collecting a paycheck and repeating it?  Do you ever ask yourself “Will my life make an imprint on the world, do I matter?”

Some of our volunteers come because of a life event, the loss of a loved one, because they are empty nesters and desire a purpose after raising their children or because they have battled a life threatening disease and won! Recently I asked some of our past non-medical volunteers why they joined the PH team? Everyone that I asked didn’t join to be a member of the medical team, they had other talents, that they brought with them to share with those in need.

The first trip I made had a large number of flight attendants (fa’s) that joined the PH team. With that said it’s pretty obvious they didn’t go because they like to travel, they live and breathe travel on a daily basis, here is what they shared with me.

“I was drawn to go to Kenya after seeing Kirsten's pics from being there. My job of pouring coke is not gratifying so I was interested in taking a charitable trip to do something that makes a difference and to change up my life of work, gym and happy hour.” Rowena- American Airlines FA

“Personally, for me it was always a Bucket list/Goal of mine to visit Africa, support a mission trip, attend a Safari.   It was not something I was actively searching at the time of my involvement.  The opportunity found me online in an American Airlines FB work group. I had recently lost a friend who left me some money in his will.  He was always giving back to different charities and his community.  When I saw the ad to travel with PH to Africa, I followed up on it.  I thought what a great opportunity to accomplish my goal and at the same time invest the money that my friend willed me. Going on the trip was important to me but promoting what I was doing was just as important. “ Jeff – American Airlines FA
                                  Helping build farms/gardens
                                      Nana, another fa, hard at work!
                         Mame and Jeff Distributing chickens to the orphans
                                   Our awesome fa volunteers!
                    Yep, the kids loved the donated soccer balls that Jeff brought!
                           Kat, one of the fa's  loving on some of the kids
                                                      Bre helps with shoe distribution

I want to say that the fa’s that were on that first trip I took, were amazing, they were hard working go getters! They brought over school supplies, shoes and soccer balls,  and collected money for gifting goats and chickens to those in need, they helped build farms and they played non stop with the children at the orphanage we were working with. They were amazing, and such a heart for service!

Jeff brought up the term Bucket list, and if joining a mission trip and traveling to Africa is part of  your bucket list, then volunteering with PH will help you mark those items off your list! ! Does your list  include travel, adventure, a safari, Africa, or helping a stranger in need? You could scratch off  5 items from your Bucket List in 10 days!

 My husband sells tires for a living, he busts his butt working a very busy and labor intensive job. He was looking for adventure, to travel, to make a difference, he went because he thought about his daily life and had that thought, “What if this is all life has to offer? Surely there has to be more” He has joined the PH team and me on several trips to Africa and he has served in Guatemala with our church as well., and is a volunteer with Red Cross. He likes the adventure and the travel, he likes making a lasting impact on those he meets.
                                       My husband Mac taught them how to drill for water
                                      It takes a lot of man power or girl power to drill a well
                                               Playing around after a hard day of farming!
                 Mac and one of the fa's Tania, building a fence to protect the garden they planted

Len, another volunteer from our first trip is a plumber from Philly had this to say about his experience:

The year I decided to join up with Project Humanity I was doing a little soul searching. I felt myself craving to do something bigger than myself. I told a friend this and he told me about PH and how he was going on this retreat. I contacted PH and I was instantly sold. The work they do and the services they strive to provide and the amount of love they want to spread in the world was exactly what I was looking for. Personal: I am a union plumber so the thought of working at a medical clinic didn't phase me. I knew that I would be working with very qualified medical personal and that we were all there to help and do our part. Well I couldn't have been more right. I made a journey with a nurse (Mame Fancett) where we had to hike to visit some of the sick who were home bound and couldn't make it to the clinic. The high light of the entire adventure was working with the maternity nurse Kay whom I helped deliver a baby. Which was a life changing experience for me. To be there and help this very primitive and basic medical clinic and aid in making miracles happen would change anyone's perspective on life. I found PH to be a rewarding program and I encourage more people to make trips like this and become more involved in making a difference and making the world a better place. No change is too small when trying to make the world a better place.- Len, plumber from Philly

                                 Len taking a selfie of the first delivery he was involved in!
                                                         Len in his new "medical" attire

Side note here, Len had signed up for the first week of the trip and decided to add the second week midway through the first. He jumped in and helped with medical stuff, we taught him how to do intake on patients for the clinic and do blood pressures! Sometimes when you volunteer it grabs you and pulls you in for more than you planned, and you don’t live in regret, but in satisfaction that you have made a difference!

Have you ever wanted to help stranger, never wanting anything in return? Do you have the desire to encourage students to stay in school, to graduate and even go on to a vocational school and learn a trade or even college?  Why not join others with the same thoughts and desires.

Every trip has something different to offer, some trips are of a medical focus, but you don’t have to be medically trained to go, just willing to serve.  Other trips emphasis  literacy and micro finance/small business, all of our trips focus to help those in need. 

Matthew West says it best in his song “My own little World”, he starts with the words 

“In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world: population – me”

And a few verses later me sings

“What if there is a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What is there’s a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world”

The song ends with these words:
“I don’t wanna miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me a greater purpose
So I can start living right now
Outside my own little world, my own little world, my own little world.”   
(‘My own little World’, Matthew West, 2010)

Join PH because you want to have fun, Join us because you want to make a difference, Join because you want to travel. Join Project Humanity because you want to change the path you are on, because life has so much more, because now is the time for your greatest adventure, outside your own little world! For more information how you can Join and start your big adventure go to


My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Maya Angelou

Friday, April 1, 2016

“It is better to have spilt water than a cracked pot” African saying

I feel like a failure, sure it’s a pride thing but still. 

Up until now my adventure have been in chronological order of my trips, I have decided that they don't have to be, I think the stories should all be told and I have decided to tell about my adventures in the order that I want and some are really important and I have to tell them, this is one of those stories! 

Most of you may remember that in October of  2014 I went to Africa/Kenya to lead a Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) Facilitators training. This training would train healthcare workers in the practice of HBB and help decrease the number of babies that die each year in childbirth. Pamela Meharry,  a nurse midwife and fellow HBB facilitator and I led a 2 day course and trained 7 facilitators.

HBB focuses on the crucial first 60 seconds, that golden first minute in a baby’s life. It stresses that being prepared is so important, and having the correct tools to help if resuscitation is needed. Being a good labor nurse is about being prepared….. prepared if something happens with the mother and with the baby. Being caught unprepared can be the difference in life and death, and is NOT a feeling that I care for. There have been times in the states in a hospital setting where I have had a patient that had a precipitous delivery (fast) and I wasn’t quite ready, thanks to my coworkers and their quick actions everything was okay. That’s what being a good labor nurse is about, being prepared and having a great team of other labor nurses helping you out. I’m not trying to take anything away from the obstetrician’s, but that’s their job, things are much calmer when they do the delivery compared to a nurse…okay I am rambling, back to point.

I just returned from my latest adventure with Project Humanity and it didn’t go without a little drama! Whenever we travel to Rusinga Island (in far western Kenya on Lake Victoria) we always check in on the clinics where HBB providers are trained. We go into the labor and delivery areas and check the condition of the HBB supplies and if they are still using them as trained.  The first week of the trip I wasn’t able to go in for an inspection, I got very sick and we had a dental clinic going on so it was chaotic to say the least. At the end of the first week a pediatric resident from the US, Dr. Sheena Gupta joined us. Sheena is a trained HBB facilitator as well and I had plans for us to do refresher courses and new trainings if needed while there. On her first day we went by the Minister of Health’s (MOH) office for introductions and to take her on a tour of the facility. (Mbita Hospital)  While we were in the maternity ward I took a chance to inspect equipment and you can imagine my surprise when there were no HBB supplies to be found in the delivery areas. I talked to them about the importance to always be ready and they needed to get the HBB supplies back to the area ASAP!

On her second day Sheena started by doing rounds with the staff at Mbita (they do a lot of deliveries and have an inpatient area that is always busy) The pediatric area was FULL, some beds had 2 children in them.  While she was there I was visiting with high school girls on Rusinga to talk about hygiene and about girl stuff. Once we finished we headed to Mbita to catch up with Sheena and go to lunch. On the way I got a call that there was a patient that was in labor and going to deliver, if I wanted to take part in it I should head on in, so our driver increased his speed!

Meanwhile back at the hospital, Sheena prepared to go in for the delivery. She asked where the supplies were, because they weren’t there even with the recommendations from the day before. She instructed them to get the supplies before delivery.  The next thing she knew a very inexperienced midwife ruptured the bag of water on the patient since she was completely dilated, and of course there was meconium, thick meconium! (Baby poop) I walked in right as the baby delivered and could see a limp baby and Sheena looked and me and yelled for me to go find supplies to resuscitate this baby! I ran out quickly to the room that I knew they should be in and nothing, I quickly ran back in, the cord had just been cut (the midwife decided to milk the cord, which is fine with a healthy baby, not one that needs resuscitation!) Sheena had to tell him to quickly cut the cord and she grabbed the baby and we both started to frantically work on drying the baby. At this point a fellow hospital worker thought the baby had died and she left the room. (HBB teaches you try for 10 minutes before stopping) Experience and knowledge tells me that the baby needs to be suctioned first but we don’t have the supplies! We continue to dry and wipe the baby’s mouth out with a towel, we had to yell to get that! We worked and rubbed and dried and stimulated begging the little guy to breathe… about the time he started to breathe and cry a bulb suction showed up, and not the HBB penguin suction they are suppose to have! Once he started crying Sheena and I gave a sigh of relief, but I was angry inside. Where were the dang supplies??? Sheena assigned apgars of 1/8, all the baby initially had was a slow heart rate.

Once we finished and the baby was okay Caroline, one of the practitioners (who I trained in HBB in 2014) made the statement “Another HBB success!” I looked at her and replied, that was not a success, it was a HBB failure, you guys were not prepared, even after the visit the day before and Sheena’s instructs to get ready right before the delivery. If I were to grade you right now you get a “F”, she looked shocked. 
We already had a HBB training planned at their facility the next day and we encouraged that all new employees or ones without the training take the class.

Sheena led a small HBB class that afternoon at the Tom Mboya clinic that we work with and trained 2 people. The next morning we showed up at the hospital and trained 9 more and Caroline was there for a refresher I’m sure.  We stressed even more about the importance of preparedness, HBB doesn’t work if you are not ready. Sadly the inexperienced midwife from the day before wasn’t there and only one of the new midwives was (she did great!) the employee that walked out when she thought the baby was dead wasn’t there either. I asked about those not in attendance and told them that they need to have those people trained in the next 30 days. 
                                             Instructing at the class at Mbita Hospital
Jerry Uhuru, a Project Humanity in country volunteer!
                             Dr Sheena Gupta and our small class at Tom Mboya Hospital

I found out a few days later that since I taught the first HBB class that the fetal death rate for 2015 was higher than 2014. I discussed this with the MOH and he shares his concern over this number. In talking with the providers an African saying came up “It’s better to have spilt water than a cracked pot” The meaning is simply that they save the mother over the baby, they focus more on a mother at/after  delivery than the baby, and it is so easy to do both. Their premise is that if the mother dies there is no one to look after her other children.

The next training in HBB is Essential Care of Every newborn  and I was scheduled to teach that this fall, but until I am sure they have the first concept of HBB down this will not take place. I am okay with this decision, it is better to have one skill mastered before attempting the next, it makes you a better nurse/midwife.

I am still learning, and teaching in another country that has differences, how they learn, their cultural views on the value of the mom’s life and the newborn’s is not the same and yet I understand.  I found this quote from C.S. Lewis and I thought it fitting especially with the reference to water
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate the deserts.”
So I guess for now you can call me  Farmer Kay RNC

If you would like more information on how to volunteer with Project Humanity in Africa or join me on my trip in September to Zambia go to or email me at