Sam and I (Brenda) visited Davis and Beth Omanyo in Kenya this past April. Davis has retired from World Relief and it has been his vision and Sam’s vision to build a clinic in the Samia district to service the health needs of the people. One year ago we purchased l acre of land to start this project, Davis has been acting as contractor to build the clinic. We returned to witness the progress, meet with the Kenyan board, assess current needs, and bring medication to start the pharmacy.
We flew to Eldoret the next day to meet Davis and Beth. Our own daughter, Bethany and her family were with us since she has been involved with this project having worked in Kenya, with Davis, for some years. We had a day of rest and drove to the Samia district the following day. We visited the clinic site for 2 days, met with the Kenyan board, the community health workers, the new clinical officer and nurse, and discussed the start-up strategies over lunch. Seeing the new facility was amazing, since it was a piece of property a year ago and now there is a clinic on the site! The structure includes a pharmacy, a laboratory, 2 exam rooms, a meeting room, and an office. The lab still has to be outfitted. There is electricity and running water! The trench for the outdoor latrines has been dug by hand and is 40 feet deep! A large garden has been started in the back. The property is gated and a guard will be hired to watch the facility. The local community did most of the building for the clinic.
We returned to Eldoret after spending 2 days at the clinic site. Bethany and her family left for a safari. While in the States, Sam and I had read about Lwala Community Hospital, also close to Lake Victoria but quite some distance from our clinic. Lwala started out much like our clinic and now 10 years later had developed into a hospital providing maternal childcare including deliveries and in-hospital care for the community. We wanted to visit Lwala to share information and learn from their experiences. We toured their facility, asking many questions. They also started as a rural clinic but have added services over time, and now function as a hospital. They have partnered with funded programs to allow them to expand services such as treating HIV mothers to prevent HIV transmission to the newborn. They are working with Safe Babies to ensure that all pregnant women in their region deliver safely in a health facility, bring their newborns in for immunizations, and receive contraception to space pregnancies. This is also part of our vision for the future. Davis brought our Mundaya clinic board back to Lwala after Sam and I had left. It was a long trip in a day, but he wanted the board to envision future possibilities and ask questions of the Lwala board.
While in Eldoret we also visited the new Gynocare fistula Hospital that is run by Dr. Mabeya, the fistula surgeon. He is restoring not only pelvic health but also dignity to young women who, because they delivered in the villages with no assistance at a young age, develop fistulas losing urine and/or feces, thus becoming outcasts. Following surgery they attend school or learn a trade before returning to their village. Sam did surgery with Dr. Mabeya for 2 days, and he operates from morning into the evening! I visited with Dr. Mabeya’s wife and Christine who runs the school and trade program, called beyond fistula. They invited me back to run in their fundraiser, which they had in May. I was so sad to miss it but it is a bit of a distance to go and only a month after our trip! Hope it went well.
Fast-forward 2 months later. Our clinic has windows, doors and sinks with running water. It is wheel chair accessible. It has lights and basic starting accessories. It has opened its doors and is seeing patients. We are still looking for lab equipment, which is must to make the correct diagnoses. We have much still to do, but it is amazing what God and the American and Kenyan boards have accomplished in one year. Thank you so much for all the support! There is still more to do and accomplish.
Brenda Zylstra, MSN, MPH