Here's a fun fact: if you've ever wanted to peep through a keyhole, you can do it in Nairobi. Sorry, there's nothing very interesting to see through this one:
However, there are some exciting things to report for the month of August; hopefully I can give you a clear picture of some events through the peephole of my blog.
As I reported a few weeks ago, we had an important meeting in Kijabe where we demonstrated the potential of our software to stakeholders in the local faith-based health sector. We also visited our new pilot site, the Marira clinic. We were happy to discover that they will be a very compatible location and team of people to test our hospital software. We set a goal to have our initial version installed and running at the clinic within two months.
Since then we have had another meeting at Kijabe Hospital to flesh out the details of a cashier module which will be included as part of version 1 of OpenHMIS. There is quite a bit of work to do before our initial release, but Wes and I are excited to be pressing on toward this first milestone.
There are some interesting things happening with health information systems in Kenya: a government project will install OpenMRS (the same platform we use) in a dozen public health facilities; a large faith-based hospital is deciding whether or not to invest a lot of money in a proprietary HMIS; and CHAK is considering hosting an OpenMRS conference for Kenya. Our hope is that we can cooperate with some local players with similar goals and help to unify open-source health technology efforts.
Thanks for your prayers about a Kenyan programmer to join our team. We were expecting to conduct a round of interviews last week, but the appointments fell through, so we continue that search.
For the past four weeks, I've been attending a small brethren assembly in Kibera, the second-largest urban slum in Africa, which is within walking distance of the SIM compound where I live. I found my way there after a series of phone calls and meetings with people involved in the assemblies in Nairobi.
It's a small gathering, but George, one of the elders and the fellow who got me safely to the meeting on my first trip, is passionate about children's ministry, so every week there is a Sunday School lesson and then a meal for around thirty children from the surrounding area. Three high-school boys attend regularly and help out with the Sunday School (as well as with escorting the mzungu—me—in and out of Kibera, for which I am very grateful).
After the kids' program, we worship and break bread, then we sing some more, then someone will preach (on my first visit, that was me! Fortunately I had been warned by a wise missionary contact to expect some kind of prompt to share, though I was still surprised to be given the pulpit). Naturally most people who attend are more comfortable with Swahili, but as a matter of habit they try to conduct as much of the service as possible in both Swahili and English, via translation, which helps me a lot!
To conclude this lengthy update succinctly, I'll say that I feel blessed to be able to serve God in such high-tech and low-tech ways. Thanks for reading.
Thank God for health and safety. With all the talk during my orientation of viruses, amoebas, muggings and the like, I'm grateful to be as healthy and secure as I am.
Thank God for the success so far in our project. We had couple worrisome moments when our first pilot site fell through, but we were back on track in no time, and things are progressing well.
Pray for continued success for Wes and me in our programming work (our target date for version 1 is October 9th), as well as in the efforts we will make to cooperate with other health systems implementers in the country. Continue to pray for a Kenyan programmer to join the CHAK team.
Thank God for leading me to the assembly in Kibera. I have been asking for guidance and wisdom in finding a more personal ministry here, and I feel like I've found a good place. Please pray that I will be an encouragement to these people, even with my lacking language skills and vastly divergent life experience. Also pray that I will find a healthy balance between my programming work, my church ministry, and a bit of time off!