The Turkana Desert, which forms the north-west corner of Kenya, covers an area of 32,000 square miles (12,950 hectares) and is inhabited by about 203,000 nomads, the Turkana tribesmen.
CU Sister Sean in cockpit of Plane
GV aerial view of plane
SV sister Sean piloting plane
GV General view of village
GV Sister Seads plane landing
SV Sister leaving plane
GV Group at clinic under tree
SV Sister Sean examining children
CU Child being given medicine in mother's arms
SV Turkana mother and child
CU Turkana woman having temperature taken
SV&CU Sister watching Turkana woman weaving cane (2 shots)
SV&CU Sister helping Turkana woman work sewing machine (4 shots)
SV Sister Sean and others take fomale patient from LandRover (2 shots)
SV Sister Span and other nurse carry patient into plane
Sister covers pationt with blanket inside aircraft
SV Sister Sean crosses horself and starts engine
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Background: The Turkana Desert, which forms the north-west corner of Kenya, covers an area of 32,000 square miles (12,950 hectares) and is inhabited by about 203,000 nomads, the Turkana tribesmen.
The Turkana live very much as they have done for thousands of years. Isolated from many changes which have overtaken the rest of Kenya they still wander the desert with their cattle in search of water and grazing land.
Over the last few years the people of even this remote region have been receiving medical care and education. Much of the work is done by a Roman Catholic organisation, the Congregation of the Medical Missionaries of Mary-- named after its founder in the twenties, Mother Mary Martin.
The Missionaries workload is greatly eased by one of the sisters and her unusual skill. Sister Sean Underwood comes from Massachusetts, USA, but has spent the last few years flying over the northern Kenyan desert in the Mission's single - engined Cessna 180 aircraft. The aircraft is the only practical means of taking doctors, nurses and medical supplies to the outlying clinics and hospitals which the Congregation runs.
The Kenya Government asked the Medical Missionaries to move into the Turkana area in the early sixties when drought killed off many of the nomad's livestock. Since then the Congregation has built up a network of dispensaries and small hospitals - throughout the region.
SYNOPSIS: The Missionaries now maintain a network of dispensaries and small hospitals - and, when she's not helping the doctors and nurses, Sister Sean helps the Turkana people develop other skills. The Missionaries run hygiene and family care classes and are teaching the tribesmen how to fish and farm.
The Congregation was founded in the 1920's by Mother Mary Martin, and is now financed by international relief services.
The Missionaries hope that one day the Turkana people will be able to look after their own needs, but until that day there's planty of work to be done.
It a patient can't be treated locally. Sister Sean will fly him or her to one of the Mission's small hospitals. If its a serious case, she will point the nose of her plane further afield to Kitale or even Nairobi - more than 300 miles to the South-east. sister Sean claims she's never been frightened not even when, a patient tried to step out of the Cessna at 7,000 feet.
Once she crashed in the desert, and spent two days there without feed. until a Kenya Air Force transport plane picked her up.
The airborne Sister says her chief memory of the incident is that it gave her the opportunity to meet other tribesmen she might not normally see.