The queue looks endless, I slide back the dark curtain that keeps us in semi-darkness away from the window. What seems like hundreds of faces peer back at me. Head down again and on with work. Our advance teams have excelled recently and records are being broken for attendance. We amazingly managed an 80% follow-up of the people seen here almost 6 years ago and along with all our study patients, many other people with eye problems (and other ailments) join the queue to be seen.
The team work really well, almost non-stop until it gets dark. Apart from a short pork-pie and chapati break there is little opportunity to stop.
Now the pork pies deserve a special mention. I am a man who appreciates a decent Melton Mowbray from time to time, but this was something else. The melt in the mouth crust with sweet, and perfectly seasoned pork was delicious. I could have eaten ten and regret having shared them with the rest of the team. They were a big hit and a completely new concept for everyone. I’m not sure anyone had had a pie before so this will have set the level of expectation on the humble pie pretty high! One for the bakery I reckon…
As we see the last of the study patients we begin helping out our amazing clinical officer by seeing some of the long-waiting crowd. A young man in a wheel chair describes familiar symptoms to me, he is short-sighted and is really starting to struggle. A quick eye exam rules out anything more serious. From our treatment box I whip out one of the 50 pairs of donated adjustable glasses and we try them on him. I wish I’d recorded a video. As the dials were turned adjusting the level of correction, his face changed in perfect harmony with the adjustment. As the optimum prescription was reached his smile broadened to a wide grin. The lenses were locked in place and we sent him home a happy man.
In start contrast, the next person in the queue was a young mother with a 2 year old boy. Although almost exactly the same age as Lucas, he was almost half his size (and Lucas is not particularly big), a smiling little man who was unable to stand or even sit. From his history and examination it appeared he had cerebral palsy and it was heartbreaking as little could be done to improve their situation. Were the same child in the UK he would have been surrounded by support services and opportunities, but not for this boy. This is the raw reality of our lives in Kenya, at times we feel so fortunate to be able to help some of the people we come across, but with equal, if not greater measure, is the pain that comes from knowing at times nothing can be done, despite the hope some have that somehow we can fix everything.
Study patients who’ve had eye drops await for their pupils to dilate so they can complete the examinations
The queues gather outside
Another patient benefits from adjustable specs, a crowd gathers to watch them being tried on
Pork pies are something I have never baked before, I always feel excited about baking something when I’m learning a new process or different technique, so although I’m not a big fan of meat it was really satisfying making hot pastry, the hot dough ball is very relaxing in your finger tips ahhhh! Oh and the left over filling made great meat balls, my two boys were very happy!
Actually I couldn’t quite complete the process as I couldn’t find any gelatine but I can save that bit of excitement for another day!
In between picking up imaginary baby rabbits cuddling them, having the baboons round for lunch (also imaginary) and chasing a little blue tractor named Lucas then backing up with my trailer so the sheep can go into the field I was updated with encouraging news of progress in the field.
One of the pieces of land our anonymous donor is in the process of purchasing was found to have problems. Unfortunately the owner was trying to sell it twice so the paperwork didn’t match up. However the other parcel of land so far has a consistent paperwork history with a couple of remaining checks including whether the land has been assigned as reserve, woodland or is involved with road planning, in any of these circumstances the land could be taken off you at any time so not a good purchase. We are really hoping the next part of the process goes well as the parcel is in a fantastic location.
We went on a visit with the bakery’s architect to the one and only (that we know!) stone oven in Nakuru, they were using eucalyptus wood, commonly known as blue gum, the most widely grown tree for fuel in Kenya. Ensuring a sustainable wood source is on the priority list, along with local and reliable providers of coffee beans, tea leaves and wheat. The research and planning continues…
Recipe – Pork Pie
480g all purpose flour (Its all we have here) or 200g plain flour and 40g strong white
100g unsalted butter
120g lard – (I used 120g butter as I couldn’t find lard)
200ml boiling water
1 egg beaten, to glaze
1 large onion
300g boneless pork loin
100g unsmoked back bacon
3 eggs boiled
salt and pepper
1 chicken stock cube
(100ml boiling water and gelatine sheet)
1. Pre-heat oven to 190°C. Sieve the flours into the mixing bowl and add the cold cubed butter then rub in with your finger tips. When a breadcrumb consistency make a well in the centre.
2. Put the lard or butter into a pan and melt, the remove from the heat. separately dissolve the salt in the boiling water then add to the lard and stir to combine. Pour the hot mixture into the well in the flour and using a wooden spoon gradually mix the flour into the liquid. Continue mixing until a dough has formed.
3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and work quickly into a ball. The dough should be glossy and still warm.
4. Roll the dough out to 3mm thick and cut 12 circles out just to be just slightly too tall to fit a muffin tray, then cut 12 circles for the lids, work quickly or the cold dough may crack.
5. line the muffin tray with the round pieces of dough and chill along with the lids.
6. To make the filling put the pork, bacon, onion, parsley and seasoning into a blender and gently hard boil the eggs for about 6minutes. Fill each muffin case about 1/3 full, place a 1/4 of an egg minus some white part on the meat, then cover with further filling and gently compress.
7. Brush the edge of each pastry case with the beaten egg, place the lids on and compress with a fork all the way round. using a piping nozzle make a steam hole in each lid and brush with more beaten egg. place in the oven for 40 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and let cool. Mix the stock cube with boiling water then whisk a soaked gelatine sheet into the stock. Pour a little into each pie and place in the fridge overnight to set.