Today we traveled approximately an hour outside of Nairobi to visit one of 3 Kenyan partners; the FOCUS Dream Center. They support a number of orphans and desperately poor children outside of Nairobi. They work very closely with a local primary school and have identified a number of children who have no ability to pay for their education, food during the day, school uniforms and books, or other supplies and materials needed for them to integrate into school. For $1 per child per day they fulfill their mission of integrating the poor into the mainstream of society. FOCUS currently supports 60 children in this way and hopes to expand their supports to eventually provide these $1 /day scholarships to 100 children. As we witnessed in Sierra Leone, we also see here in rural Kenya; a strong incentive for poor children to attend primary or secondary school is the promise of one meal a day. We saw this in Sierra Leone, we witnessed it at Bethel School here in Kibera, Kenya, and we see how important it is to the children supported by the FOCUS Dream Center. We also participated in the dedication of a new clean water system and innovative latrine system FOCUS hopes to have installed in many locations in the areas they serve.
Yesterday, in the slums of Kibera, and again today at the more rural FOCUS center, you cannot help be moved by the stark inequity between the rich and the poor here. Within 1 mile of the almost gated slums of Kibera lie new townhouse developments for wealthy Kenyans starting at $7 million shillings (about $700,000 U.S. dollars). We’ve seen this phenomenon time and again.
Our next visit today was to a rural hospital. The reality of the how inequitable public healthcare services available to the masses compared to the private pay hospitals available to those who can afford it here in Kenyan is remarkable. At the rural public hospital we were toured by the Administrator, several physicians, and the local equivalent to an elected state Representative. Throughout the tour, they kept emphasizing the need for basic equipment such as ultrasound in their maternity area. It’s unimaginable that a hospital that supports a local population of over 300,000 people has no ultrasound to help medical staff in addressing the needs of pregnant women. There are no x-ray machines, the patient beds are literally falling apart, there is one 10 x 12 room which serves as their children’s ward and so there are 2-3 children sharing a bed. It was a reminder to us all of how fortunate we are in the U.S. with the healthcare services available to us.
As we do each night, we shared 1 or 2 significant observations of the day and we all reflected upon the need to address the underlying cause of distress and inequity in developing countries, and that is “poverty.” The single most effective way of uplifting the poor is through educating children so that they can reshape their own futures AND providing to adults opportunities to create economic development - jobs and meaningful work allowing them to support the needs of their families. Without local education for children or economic development opportunities in the form of meaningful work; the cycle of poverty will continue perpetually.
Tomorrow is our last day in Kenya and ends our SHGO trip to Sierra Leone and Kenya. We visit our third and final SHGO partner- Children’s Garden Orphanage. Follow us and view more photos on Facebook.
Dr. David A. Jordan