It’s International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Today we are sharing the stories of just a few of the incredible women making a huge difference to the lives of people with life-limiting condition in Kenya, through their hard work in palliative care.
Peris Wandera (pictured far right) is a registered nurse and midwife. She retired from the Kenyan health service in 2002. Peris met many patients throughout her career with terminal illness living in unbearable pain, and resolved to continue working to help them. At the age of 64 Peris completed a Higher Diploma in Palliative Care.
Peris says, “My eyes were opened on control pain and the suffering of patients with terminal illness and their families.”
“On returning back home my desire to help terminally ill patients was high. I started visiting patients in the wards particularly to see patients with cancer and those with HIV. I identified 10 at once in great pain, some needing referral for further management.”
Peris worked hard to form a team of professionals to provide palliative care, find training for them, then secure a room for a hospice and vital resources such as morphine. In 2014 Peris launched Busia Hospice. Today she leads the work of Busia Hospice as hospice coordinator, supported by a team of community health volunteers, bringing essential palliative care to people in need in Busia County.
“I am a teacher by profession who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 while aged 51. I went through surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy to treat the cancer.
After the treatments I was introduced to Nyeri Hospice where I was registered as a patient, a friend, and later as an untrained hospice volunteer.
In October 2016, when Nyeri Hospice was conducting a one-week training, I was invited to go and train as a Community Health Volunteer. I was trained on the hospice concept and hospice philosophy, cancer, communication with terminally ill patients and their families, use of morphine and other opioids, bereavement, and many other topics.
After the training, I felt energized and empowered to go out to the community to create awareness on cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. I can help patients with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses live a positive life. I also help to create awareness in the community.”