Humanitarian Service Creates a Lasting Impact

by Andrea Dannewitz


Children at the Center at Kware, run by the Mukami family, sit with Mary for a photo.

HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis are rampant through many less fortunate countries such as Kenya.  Recently, Salem resident and nursing student (Wagner College) Mary Groch took a trip to the Nairobi and Nyeri areas of Kenya in a humanitarian effort to improve the quality of life for those living in some of the poorest areas of the world.  The experience was eye-opening for Mary and the other students who participated in this effort.

Mary and another nursing student first worked in a clinic in Nairobi providing medical care to bedridden patients suffering from HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis.  Their goal was to help provide some relief to the patients by performing range of motion exercises, as these patients are very ill and many are paralyzed because of the drugs available to treat them.  (The drugs are not the same being used here in the United States.)

Kenya can be a scary place.  There is some instability in governments in surrounding countries and violence is widespread.  Many people have fled nearby countries and into Kenya to escape civil war and such.  Despite this, Mary said the people in the communities she spent time in were very nice, open and friendly.  Mary loved meeting the people and doing what she could to help with their healthcare crisis.

Outside of Nairobi is very dusty.  Mary described these communities as completely poverty stricken.

“There are people everywhere and the poverty is unbelievable, but the people are extremely nice and friendly.  They make do the best they can with what they have.  We didn’t feel scared there because the people knew we were there to help,” Mary said.

Next stop for the students of Wagner College was Nyeri.  This area is a good example of showing how the Kenyan government cannot maintain the health crisis.  Due to this, it is up to non-government organizations to step in and assist the people who are suffering; they are the ones who provide healthcare to the people in these areas.  KENWA is the organization that Mary and the other students worked with in Nyeri.  The center she worked with covers 3,500 square miles and they make monthly trips into the villages to provide healthcare to the ill and make them as comfortable as possible — improving their quality of life.  Mary explained that KENWA was started by two women who were living with AIDS and wanted to improve the quality of life for others facing similar circumstances.  They do this on a monthly basis, and Mary explained why it is monthly and not more often.

“There is no car for KENWA to use at its leisure.  There is a car that is loaned to them for a few days every month so they can get out to the homes of the patients once a month,” Mary said.  She also said there is a hospital in the area but it is in bad shape and it is very expensive considering these people average $1 a day in wages.  This is exactly why KENWA does what it does.

“There is a real feeling of family among the people of these communities.  They take care of each other the best they can,” said Mary.

Despite so much poverty and sadness, Mary said the people in the Nyeri countryside have beautiful land, saying, “This land is lush with vegetation.  It is very beautiful, but yet some of the poorest people in the world are living there.  The land produces a lot of food for them so they don’t starve, but they cannot sell it as no one has any money, so they share it with each other instead.”

During the 12 days Mary was in Kenya, she and the other students stayed with a middle-class family who also provide humanitarian services in the Nyeri communities.  Middle-class is very rare in these areas, and the Mukami family knows it.  They have built children’s centers (Center at Kware) to help their community, as countless children have been orphaned due to the health crisis in Kenya.  The family provides meals for children who may not eat every day and also provides activities for them at the centers.  They also offer a support group for the caretakers of these orphaned children.  Most of them are grandmothers, so the center also offers a weekly meeting for them to socialize and weave baskets together that they try to sell for income.

Mary said she and the other students from this trip are going to purchase a Website for the grandmothers to sell their baskets.  The Mukami family that founded and operate the Center at Kware will handle the operation for the grandmothers once it is up and running.

Mary intends to continue with this.  She hopes to return to Kenya during the summer of 2009 for a longer stay.  “I know my nursing skills could be very useful out there.  It was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back to help,” Mary said.

The goal of the trip was to create a lasting impact on the lives of these people who truly do need it.  Mary and her classmates who went with her definitely accomplished their goal and they intend to continue with it.  This lasting impact will also remain in the memory of these giving students and also the people in these Kenyan communities who were so gracious to their visitors-on-a-mission.


Children show off their face paintings at the Christmas party thrown for them at the Center at Kware.


Housing KENWA offers help to those in the community living with HIV/AIDS.

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Soule Cultural Night

Once again, Soule School in Salem held their third annual Cultural Night, where staff, parents and students participated in a celebration of all the cultures represented at the school.  There were signs of the Middle East, China, Asia, Africa, and many other countries around the world.  Food was plentiful, complete with colored balloons and signs lighting up the festivities.  Cowboys, Native Americans, Asian, and Chinese costumes rounded out the attire, with crafts being done all night for entertainment.  This night was a big success!


Sisters Annalee and Jennifer LeDuc


Suren and Kaby Maheswaran, all dressed up


Garret, playing the camera

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Lancaster Poetry

by Robyn Hatch

Lancaster Grammar School in Salem recently held their Winter Assembly for grade 3.  Due to many snow cancellations, the assembly had fewer rehearsals than were originally hoped for, but the poetry went off without any downfalls.  After a brief introduction, ‘Free Verse Poetry’ was read by many, then on to ‘Haikus’ and lastly ‘Poems that can Rhyme.’

Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its evocative qualities in addition to its apparent meaning.  Poetry often uses particular forms to expand the literal meaning of words, or to evoke emotional or sensual responses.

Free Verse Poetry is a term often describing various styles of poetry that are written without strict meter or rhyme but still recognizable as poetry by virtue of complex patterns that readers will perceive as part of a whole idea.

Haikus is a form of Japanese poetry traditionally printed in a single line, while Haiku in English usually appears in three lines to equate to the Japanese Haiku’s three metrical phrases.

Rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more different words and is most often used in poetry and songs.

Lancaster did an excellent job with the little amount of time they had.


Some of the third grade reciting Haiku

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