People of AMPATH: In Memory of Jayne Njeri Kamau

Jayne Njeri Kamau was an outstanding child life specialist in AMPATH’s Sally Test Child Life Program. Jayne was returning to Eldoret from a pediatric cancer conference and was a passenger aboard the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed on March 10. Our AMPATH family mourns Jayne’s loss and offers condolences to her family, friends, co-workers, and the patients and families she served.

Jayne Kamau

Jayne Kamau

“Jayne was a diligent and mature guide for the child life specialists. She knew how to be silly and serious; she was firm and kind; she was a strong advocate for ‘one voice’ in crowded procedure rooms; and she was a constant learner who worked hard to improve her practice,” said Sarah Ellen Mamlin, associate field director, child life services.

Jayne’s friend and professional mentor, Morgan Livingstone, describes Jayne as a “great friend and supportive team member to all within the child life and AMPATH teams. Jayne eagerly lifted up all of her colleagues, helping them to build their skills and expertise when supporting patients and families of all ages at the hospital, no matter what illness or trauma they were facing.”

Jayne with baby.jpg

The Sally Test Child Life Program provides educational and recreational activities for children in the hospital and the children of adults in the hospital. The dedicated staff provides a nurturing environment for adults and children alike, including counseling, medical play and cuddling, and procedural preparation for hundreds of Kenyan children and families every day.

Jayne was a strong child life specialist and passionately served the largest unit in Shoe4Africa (children’s hospital) over this past year with over 100 patients a day. With skill, grace and a bright smile on her face, Jayne met the unique needs of many patients, helping them through their medical experience through play, preparation and education. Jayne was always able to work with the greater medical teams to work on improvements to care for all patients.

Jayne was returning from the All-Africa Conference of the Society for Pediatric Oncologists in Cairo with colleagues where she presented a poster about her work: “Helping Children with Retinoblastoma and their Families Cope with Diagnosis and Treatment - The Provision of Child Life Support in Kenya.” Jayne made connections with a number of people from many countries where psychosocial support is not part of the healing process for children who were interested in incorporating child life into their practices.  She was bubbling with enthusiasm and plans to expand child life as she returned home.

Jayne’s colleague Regina Njoki said, “Jayne was a hardworking child life specialist who loved her job. Her passion and care for hospitalized children was outstanding. She always advocated for team work and wanted the best for the child life program. We will miss her dearly.”

Jayne Kamau and her friend and mentor Morgan Livingstone.

Jayne Kamau and her friend and mentor Morgan Livingstone.

Jayne narrates part of a child life video and is shown in action providing distraction to patients during a brannula change.

Jayne was “a child life specialist who wanted to shine with all, a mentor, an advocate for sick children and more so a team leader,” said colleague Phillister Wambeyi.  “Rest well, Jayne Kamau.”

Martha Mwongela added, “Jayne has been a great inspiration to many and a team player. Her passion for the work she did was exemplary and task-oriented. We have lost a model child life specialist.”

An interview with Jayne was recently featured on the PediaPlay blog and the Association of Child Life Professionals shared memories of Jayne and her work as well.

 “Personally, Jayne was a great friend,” added Livingstone. “My children adored her, and her kindness in all her interactions with them. Jayne and I spoke daily about life and family, child life’s future in Kenya, and working within the hospital to expand services. She was one of a kind.”

Mamlin added, “As we all recover from the shock, pain, and this loss, we hope to remember Jayne’s work as soon as the rains begin by planting a shade tree and placing a bench beside it on the Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital’s playground. This will remind all of Jayne’s ability to calm us and surround us with joy as children and parents sit under its protective branches.”

Rest in peace, Jayne.

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