Earlier this summer Janet Hodes and John Willingham visited the SOS warehouse to collect materials for a trip with Hearts for Kenya, a Louisville-based nonprofit that exists for the purpose of combating poverty, hunger and disease in small, agrarian communities in the Nyanza province of Kenya. Janet and John travelled to Kenya in June with a group of ten volunteers, where they used the supplies collected from our warehouse to treat 350 patients and to set up a clinic that already has treated many more. Here is Janet’s reflection on that trip, and on how SOS volunteers and donors helped Hearts for Kenya to reach a community in need:
For nearly 20 years, Hearts for Kenya has been helping the people of Oyugis, Kenya to build a self-sufficient community through agricultural development, medical care and other sustainable initiatives. In June 2014, a group of 10 volunteers, including two doctors and a nurse, traveled to Kenya to open the Mary Ballard Medical Clinic.
Built with local materials by Kenyan workers and volunteers, the clinic was repurposed from a dilapidated building, and includes three exam rooms and a pharmacy, an administrative office, two washrooms and a spacious reception area for patients. Not only will the clinic provide a source of income for the local staff, it will also offer electronic record-keeping for better management and treatment of patients. Future plans include a lab in order to run much-needed malaria and typhoid testing, among other helpful diagnostics.
Thanks to SOS, Hearts for Kenya was able to bring the medical supplies necessary to get the clinic up and running. In the first four days it was open, the Mary Ballard Medical Clinic saw more than 450 patients, treating everything from cuts and scrapes to ringworm, giardia, malaria and typhoid. Hearts for Kenya doctors also treated about 350 patients through improvised clinics at area churches and preschools using medical provisions from SOS.
Oyugis is a rural area, and even by Kenyan standards is quite impoverished. Hearts for Kenya chose this region for this very reason. While the Kenyan government provides childhood vaccines free of charge, as well as certain other medications, people may need to walk very long distances to reach their nearest clinic, where they may wait many hours only to discover that the medication they need is out of stock.
The Mary Ballard Medical Clinic evolved from the first medical service trip coordinated by Hearts for Kenya three years ago. The group was overwhelmed by the needs of the community, where much of the middle generation is gone as a result of AIDS, and where the remaining grandparents, aunts & uncles struggle to feed and clothe themselves and the children who have been orphaned by AIDS. The plan was developed to serve the basic health needs of the community.
With the help of SOS and Hearts for Kenya, the Mary Ballard Medical Clinic is bringing both health and hope to the people of Oyugis, Kenya.