Disque Foundation Returns to Africa, Empowers 150 People to Save a Life

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Our goal was empowering at least 140 health care workers across Nairobi, Kenya in a variety of key life-saving skills. We had 10 days, a team of Disque Foundation and Global FICCS volunteers, and a busy travel itinerary to accomplish this. Thanks to the tireless work of dedicated partner organizations the curriculum included a myriad of life-saving techniques such as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Basic Life Support (BLS), and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

trainer demonstrating airway breathing

Sophia Bodnar training in Voi, Kenya

In addition to the work, a big part of the excitement surrounding the trip was the chance to meet up with some of the people we trained last year during the Disque Foundation’s inaugural trip to Kenya. Seeing these friends and colleagues in action, now all empowered to save lives and, in some cases, already training others in and around Nairobi, Kenya, was more than just exciting, it was truly inspiring. Trips like these are why the Disque Foundation exists. Seeing first-hand how our work impacts lives and communities will always be gratifying and moving.

Arriving on January 11, our first stop was in downtown Nairobi where we worked with a team of doctors and nurses there to bring them up to ‘super user’ status. It’s an advanced skill level that means this class is now ready to train other doctors and nurses at their hospitals. The team was specifically trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Electrocardiogram (EKG) analysis skills. The net result of training ‘super users’ means our training sessions continue to have an exponentially positive impact long after we’ve left. It’s a core philosophy of the Disque Foundation.

woman demonstarting airway management

Erin Nasrallah demonstrating airway management with students in Nairobi

This trip was a project of the Save a Life Initiative, a partnership between the Disque Foundation and National Health Care Provider Solutions (NHCPS) and the Global Foundation for International Cardiac and Community Services (FICCS). The teamwork proved a perfect and vital synergy of goals and complementary skills. Trip and team leader, Dr. Parag Patel, put it this way, “Our shared vision of educating Kenyans about CPR and ACLS has brought together comprehensive online content with hands-on training. Our African trainees have all the tools they need to master these new skills.”

A key component of the Disque Foundation training approach is providing necessary study materials before any of the hands-on training begins. Our group of Kenyan trainees were given free access to NHCPS’ online ACLS courses and had a chance to explore a wealth of resources including handbooks, training videos, skills videos, practice and final exams. By completing some or all of these online courses before the Disque Foundation team even arrived meant days of study time was saved and the practical simulations were able to start on the second day, much earlier than is typical. The result is the trainees had more time to finely hone their ACLS and CPR skills through the more nuanced in-class simulations with mannequins and one-on-one time with the Global FICCS team.

The team’s second day of training was dedicated to group simulations: We covered airway management, 12-lead EKG reading and ultrasounds as well as how to administer bag-mask ventilation, and basic airway adjuncts NPA and OPA use. It was a very busy day. This new group of ‘super-users’ was made up of healthcare workers from surrounding hospitals. They are all now ready to return to their home facilities and train their colleagues in these new skills.

Day three took us to Kariobangi, Kenya, which was the most unique day of the trip. Boxing! Yes, we spent some time sparring with the young women at Boxgirls Kenya, a unique nonprofit that teaches these ladies how to box along with other life skills. We trained them in CPR and AED and they taught us how to take a punch.

trainee learning cpr compressions

Kerry Murphy teaching chest compressions to Boxgirls Kenya

Next up was an emotional visit back to Compassionate Hands for the Disabled in Ruai, Nairobi, Kenya. This rehabilitation and rescue center cares for abandoned children living with a mental or physical disability. When we were there last year the orphanage had taken in 85 children and, thanks to the leadership of Executive Director, Anne Njeri, her team now cares for 100 disabled orphans. Their vision and mission is to create an inclusive society where persons with different abilities enjoy equal rights and have access to affordable, quality rehabilitation services. Ultimately this work enables persons with disabilities to overcome their physical limitations and empower them both economically and socially to become self-reliant and fully integrated members of their communities.

Part of Global FICCS’ work at Compassionate Hands was helping with a pilot program that educates and pays house mothers and aids who are recruited from the Kariobangi slums in Nairobi. After the mentoring program is completed the aids earn a fair wage.

One young woman who has excelled in this mentoring program is Jackie, a Kariobangi youth assisting the Director at Compassionate Hands, thanks to a scholarship from Global FICCS. Jackie was trained during our trip last year in CPR, AED and First Aid. She is now a lead assistant at Compassionate Hands for the Disabled, helping care for all of the children. It’s exactly the kind of success story we like to facilitate and talk about!

Mackenzie Thompson with Jackie at Compassionate Hands for the Disabled

Our team got a tour of Compassionate Hands’ new facility and Dr. Patel was able to perform clinical assessments on several of the children that needed treatment.

Our journey continued by train to the city of Voi, 200 miles outside of Nairobi. Kagona Gitau is one of the ‘super users’ we trained last year and he is now training a team in Advanced Cardiac Life Support at Voi Hospital. Kagona has been instrumental in setting up trainings across Kenya, with the help of our partnering organization MedSwipe. MedSwipe aims to empower local healthcare workers by providing the knowledge and tools required to ensure better patient care. We spent the rest of the day in Voi teaching a team how to read an EKG and the proper responses to conditions the heart monitor uncovers.

ficcs member shaking hands with a kenyan doctor

Parag Patel and Kagona Gitau at Moi District Hospital Voi

One our return from Voi we experienced the perfect end to a day in Africa: greeted by bathing elephants when we got back to our lodge!

We ended our Kenya trip at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. We held one more ACLS training session for doctors and nurses in the cath lab and, thanks to a Global FICCS donation, we were able to leave specialized cardiac equipment at the hospital. Before we left, we made sure they all knew how to properly use the new equipment and were fully equipped to save more lives.

Every trip we take inspires the next one. We are already working toward empowering hundreds more in 2020!

Disque Foundation and Global FICCS team at a training in Nairobi