In Memoriam: Katherine Mcquade-Toig

What we have done for ourselves alone die with us; what we have done for others and the world remains…immortal.Tatua and the world have lost a great woman in the past week, beautiful both inside and out. Last year, a time like this, Tatua Kenya had the honour of hosting Katherine Mcquade-Toig. She began a blog  http://iseeafrica2013.blogspot.com/ to capture her experience. She wanted to run a campaign on health here in Kenya and had her heart out for the Community Health Workers (CHWs)in the slums. Here’s an excerpt from her blog, that challenges all of us to do better. Even in her passing on, she will continue to challenge us with the passion she had in creating a just world.

A sketch Katie made during Tatua's weekly reflections
A sketch Katie made during Tatua’s weekly reflections

I am uncomfortable. My senses did their job in Kenya. They collected sights, sounds and information for me to wrestle with. My mind will not be the same. Old beliefs and realities cannot accommodate the new information. The process of reconciliation is not tidy. It won’t work for me to come to simple explanations and conclusions. I will need to sit in the dissonance for a while and build new constructs of thought.My world at home has changed. The face of my son, his bright eyes are no different the eyes of the children I spent time with. Would we ever allow a child in our country to sleep on the street? I consider that there are nearly a million orphans because of HIV. This is just one of many looming injustices for me to consider…there must be a balance of witnessing these truths but not being paralyzed because of them.

Katie mingling with CHW's  after a meeting in Ng'ando
Katie mingling with CHW’s after a meeting in Ng’ando

I have an ache. The Community Health Workers (CHWs) of the slums are with me. No official title, no formal education, no clear certification and no governing body. They choose to work for as volunteers. They choose to comfort the dying in the middle of the night, they wash the bedridden. Where is their honor? Why are they invisible? I remembering learning of times when nurses where invisible…handmaidens. The correlation between the CHWs and Nursing resonates in my chest and I feel accountable. How would the health status of a slum change if the CHWs were honored and treated as health providers and problem solvers?

I will continue to collaborate with Tatua. My energy will be aimed at empowering and supporting the Community Health Workers in the slums of Ngong, Ngando and Rongi. It isn’t enough to provide mission work to the slums. The solution has to grow from within. The CHWs are uniquely positioned as access points to healthcare. My mind can rest on this.

A new chapter begins for me here with the CHWs.

We at Tatua will  do our best to ensure we create that just world that Katie wanted to see. Our thoughts are with all that will miss her and especially with her family. May comfort find its way to all of you.

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4 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Katherine Mcquade-Toig

  1. Katie and I became close this summer. I miss her deeply. Reading about how she touched others makes me smile.

    1. She really will be treasured. She touched many lives and that really is a challenge for daily living with the intent to also touch and inspire those we come across everyday.

  2. Katie loved her time with you all in Africa. She absorbed every person & every experience into her sweet soul to become a part of her. Like a mirror, you all reflected to each other the hope for a compassionate, better world filled with love.
    With gratitude for these tender, sweet words about Katie.
    Carole ( Katie’s mother-in-law)

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