Time in Kenya is not measured in familiar increments, like minutes and hours, but instead in phrases. "A little bit," in Kenya, can mean anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. "A little bit more" means 1 to 4 hours or more. Distance is also not measured in the usual parlance.

On the second day of vaccination clinics, team Hell on Wheels set off for the little community of Kayole, about 10 kilometers from Naivasha, our operation's home base. Early in the morning the weather was pleasant and overcast, but as we drove to the first community, the rains came and Kenya's rust-colored soil quickly turned to mud, the consistency and stubbornness of plaster. Our Land Cruiser bogged down once, but driver and Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) secretary, David Gies, also a Denver resident, skillfully got us going again. We arrived after an hour's slog through ruts, rocks, and muck to find more than 50 children and adults lined up, patiently awaiting our arrival. Kris, Melissa, and I jumped out of the Land Cruiser (I previously reported mistakenly that it was a Land Rover) into the mud and began vaccinating dogs and cats while Dr. Dennis Makau set up a makeshift vaccination clinic under the "mall" overhang of one of the nondescript omnipresent kiosks, or shops--about the same size as a small closet in many homes in the U.S.--that are the center of activity in every community. Each kiosk has niche items, which range from cell service to insurance to potatoes to charcoal for heating homes, which is a serious threat to Kenya's efforts to prevent deforestation.

About an hour after we started, I was assigned to travel to a sub-location to vaccinate 30 dogs in a facility where guard dogs are trained. Our vehicle was fitted with a large speaker on top, and as we traveled to the location announcements were made continually so that when we arrived, nearby residents would know to bring their dogs and cats to us to get vaccinated. Restraint, which we anticipated would be a problem, was never a concern in any of the locations we visited, especially at the security facility, where the trainers restrained.

Arriving back at Kayole, I found Kris and Melissa sheltering from the weather under the overhang with everyone else. They had run out of vaccine. The vehicle was sent back to a stationary clinic to retrieve more. We asked how long it would be before we could expect the new supply to arrive. "Oh, just a little bit," was the well-pondered response. With nothing to do in Kayole, outside Naivasha in Nakuru County, Kenya, we started playing games with the children: balloons were made from exam gloves and tossed about; kids ran around rolling bicycle tires with sticks; I persuaded a group of boys to sing a favorite song, which I videotaped.

After about an hour, Dennis Makau, ANAW's head veterinarian, announced that the vehicle was about "a kilometer and a half away" and would be back in "a little bit." An hour later, I suddenly realized how distance works in Kenyan lingo. "Dennis!" I yelled as excitedly as a 5 year old who has just figured out the letters I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M spell "ice cream." "What you really meant when you said the vehicle was just a kilometer and a half away was that it was one-and-a-half kilometers from the place it had been one-and-a-half kilometers before!" Dennis smiled patiently, as Kenyans do.

In 2010, two children in the Naivasha community were bitten by rabid dogs. They died.

In August 2014, our team of ANAW staff and Denver-area veterinarians and support staff vaccinated 1,258 dogs and cats in and around Naivasha in Nakura County, Kenya. How many lives and livelihoods we may have saved we can never know. It was a good start.

Add comment

  Country flag

  • Comment
  • Preview

About this Blog

Red is your guide to everything AAHA. Whether you’re looking for association news, updates on our educational offerings, the latest books from AAHA Press, deals from our Preferred Providers, or fun reads from various AAHA staff and AAHA-member veterinary professionals, this is where you’ll find it.

Questions or comments?
Email us at [email protected] or call AAHA’s Member Experience Team at 800-883-6301.

AAHA-Accredited Veterinary Hospital Locator

Read the latest edition of:

Poll Question
Veterinary professionals: Are you allowed to bring your pet(s) to work with you?

The Standard of Veterinary Excellence ®
American Animal Hospital Association | Copyright ©2019 | Privacy Statement | Contact Us
The Standard of Veterinary Excellence ®
American Animal Hospital Association | Copyright © 2014
Privacy Statement | Contact Us