It is often a cliché that is used numerous times on a daily basis; the youth are the future of tomorrow. But looking at it critically and especially in palliative care work, it actually rings true. For palliative care to continue growing and becoming an integral part of healthcare systems the world over, the next generation needs to be informed.

Nairobi Hospice in Kenya, like all hospices and palliative care units in the country, the hope is to reach as many students and young people. This ensures that unlike in the past, they start off informed and very aware of the benefits and need for end of life care. Students from Potterhouse School – Runda in Nairobi were the beneficiaries of the latest talk on palliative care.

The students who are in the final years of their secondary education, were visiting the hospice at the request of their teachers who said they wanted to show them that there are very many people in society who need a helping hand. Ann Nyambura, a teacher is of the opinion that, “as teachers we would like to see our students become responsible people in society and contribute to the betterment of humanity. Instead of just staying home watching television and listening to music when they finish school, we’d like them to be involved in activities such as visiting hospices and hospitals to be of service.”

The students were taken through the basics of palliative care by Senior Nursing Officer and palliative care nurse Catherine Ajuoga. She also spoke to them about:-

Ø  the causes of and predisposition to cancer

Ø  metastatis

Ø  difference between body cells and cancer cells

Ø  common cancers in Kenya (both national and hospice statistics)

Ø  myths about cancer

A student Joshua Githinji was curious to know more about volunteering opportunities at the hospice, a sentiment that was echoed by most of his schoolmates present. Ms. Ajuoga was pleased to inform them that volunteering at Nairobi Hospice or any other is very essential to the smooth running of these institutions. “All you would need is to be trained for a week or so by staff at the hospice. You would then be put on placement at the hospice to help around maybe during day care or in other areas depending on your expertise. Some people come here and offer their cleaning, cooking and catering services while others come in with donations. Ultimately it depends on your expertise and how much you feel you give in terms of time and services.”

The students later interacted with the patients dafter the talk getting to know more about them and their illnesses. They were touched by how resilient the patients were despite having heavy burdens on their shoulders to bear.

After all was said and done, palliative care provision was advocated for during this session and hopefully many more people will receive the message of end of life care and a serious conversation on the issue can be had in Kenya.

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