When we put together the itinerary for this 5-leg trip there was always a chance we might not complete the last leg. Uganda was holding national elections the week before we were scheduled to arrive. And we know from first hand experience (witness Nairobi in January 2008) that disputed election results can spark protest and violence. If things looked dicey, "Plan B" was to leave off the Uganda leg and head home from Nairobi.
Well, the Uganda elections went smoothly enough. But we went ahead with Plan B anyway. Here's why.
Last Monday after spending the morning at the Little Rock ECD Center we were walking the streets of Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya. Kibera is home to 1 million people who live in a space the size of Central Park. We were headed for the home of one of the children who attends Little Rock school. The streets of Kibera require some care to navigate. They are deeply rutted and littered with all manner of "debris."
As an experienced hiker I know that the cardinal rule is to always look down when you're on the move. Well, I was looking up and taking photos and video at the same time to give people a sense for the place. We've posted a few of them here.
Sure enough, I slid down an 18 inch rut and landed in an awkward heap with my leg caught underneath me. As you can tell by the expletive at the end of this short video,
I knew instantly I had done something to my knee.
The good news is there's no serious damage -- no broken bones and no torn ligaments. But I sprained it pretty badly and will be hobbling around on crutches for a good week or two. Our days in Uganda were going to be physically demanding. So we dropped off the last leg and headed home on Thursday.
As you can tell from the blog postings, this has been our most ambitious and productive trip to date. Even without the additional site visits and meetings that were scheduled for Uganda we feel good about what we've accomplished. We made important progress on our two top priorities -- the Farmers of the Future school program and Pads for Peace sanitary pads initiative. We established personal relationships with valuable new partners going forward -- the village leaders in Libore Niger and the Songhai Center in Benin. And we identified several promising new projects to pursue. All in all a very successful trip!
And as an extra learning experience, my little mishap gave us an unexpected opportunity to check out the Nairobi healthcare system. We were very impressed. We went to Nairobi Hospital, a private hospital around the corner from the hotel. We headed to the emergency room and went through admissions, triage and an initial doctor's evaluation in less than an hour. From there we went to X-ray, then back to the doctor for further discussion, to the pharmacy for pain meds, and finally to physical therapy to be fitted for a knee brace and crutches.
Total elapsed time from admission to discharge: 2 hours. Total costs including emergency room admission, doctor's evaluation, X-rays, drugs and medical equipment: $125. The same experience in the US would have taken twice as long and cost at least 5 times as much. How's that for a "third world" country! :)