Nursing practitioner Juma Sampuerrap treats injuries in a land where lion attacks and hippo bites on humans are not uncommon.
Deep in the heart of the Maasai Mara region of southwestern Kenya, Sampuerrap keeps busy with a range of patient complaints. There are tropical diseases, particularly malaria, to contend with, plus common ailments like diarrhea and respiratory problems.
There’s also a program to diagnose, treat and support individuals with AIDS/HIV.
Some people have walked up to 50 km to come to the Talek Health Centre, which is staffed by a medical team of 12.
On average, the centre sees between 50 and 70 patients a day.
Sampuerrap, director of the health centre, is now in Red Deer for six weeks to receive more training in a variety of medical services.
He’s never left Kenya so everything in Alberta is new to him — from the smooth, level highways to the green vegetables on his dinner plate.
This week, Sampuerrap is learning more about ultrasounds for obstetrical and gynecological exams while at Red Deer’s Women Imaging Centre. He’ll also attend the maternity unit at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, plus he’ll receive training on X-ray equipment.
Sampuerrap will also observe a dentist for a week.
“It’s a very big opportunity to be here so I can learn all these things and take them back to help the community and teach my staff,” said Sampuerrap.
Sampuerrap is just so happy to meet with people, including Dr. Michael Awad, who heads the Women Imaging Centre.
Awad added he’s glad to be able to train the Kenyan and would welcome him back.
Central Alberta-based international development organization A Better World Canada sponsored Sampuerrap’s trip. It has been sponsoring his clinic for seven years, said Sampuerrap.
A Better World Canada will soon set up an X-ray machine, plus an ultrasound, within the clinic that’s been around for 13 years.
These medical services will benefit the Maasai Mara region — an area where a tribe of semi-nomadic people are known for their distinctive customs and dress — and the much larger area known as Narok County.
More staff will be hired once this new equipment comes on stream, said Sampuerrap.
“We have many people coming because they can be managed inside one spacious room that’s clean,” said Sampuerrap.
“We have beds and we have a small maternity area.”
When the maternity ward opened, no women would come because of their traditional ways of giving birth. Now, the unit sees between five and 10 women a month.
Sampuerrap is already noticing some big differences between here and home.
Canada isn’t hot like Kenya. The technology is much more advanced. The clinics are clean.
“Everybody is conscious here about storing things, not like Kenya,” said Sampuerrap. “There would be papers everywhere and dust.”
Sampuerrap, 39, is a married father of four who grew up in the Maasai culture.
He’s not used to eating vegetables, but already he’s coming to like them. At home, he’d be eating meat, ugali (a dish of maize flour) and even animal blood.
His culture doesn’t eat fish, but already he’s dined on some fresh fish.
He went fishing with Dr. Ray Comeau and his wife Deryl, a couple he’s staying with on Sylvan Lake. Sampuerrap also took a boat ride and it was “too fast.”
He was also amazed by the dinosaurs at Drumheller’s Royal Tyrrell Museum.
Sampuerrap will leave Canada on Oct. 6.
In late October, the Comeaus will head a medical team of volunteers to Kenya and one of their stops will be at Sampuerrap’s clinic.