Life and Death in the Balance
In pain and ready to give birth to her twins, Helen listened to the pounding rain, on the roof, of her home, on the ridge, of the Rift Valley in Kenya. Then she cried for her husband, Pastor Steve, to take her to the hospital. He took her bag and led her out through the rain to their car, which he used as a local government official. The hillside, dirt road was saturated and difficult to navigate in the driving rain with its swollen potholes. On the slow ride descending to the small town of Ntule, bordering the rift valley, Helen's pain increased and her preeclampsia symptoms worsened. Steve had to stop twice to ensure she could make it. After the difficult, half-hour ride to Ntule, Steve drove as fast as conditions permitted and arrived at the Narok Hospital forty-five minutes later. The journey had placed Helen in a life-and-death struggle. Fortunately, the medical staff gave her immediate attention, and she successfully gave birth to her twins. What if Steve didn't have access to the government car or was further delayed in descending from their country home to the city hospital? Helen and her twins barely survived. This ordeal demonstrated the life-threatening danger that existed without a local health care facility. Below, meet Helen and her healthy two-year-old twins!
Fortunately, The Osiligi Hope Foundation has provided a local health facility to support pregnant women's labor and delivery needs in this southwest region of Kenya. It began in 2012 with Kikanae Punyua, a Maasai from Kenya, who received an American Field Service (AFS) grant to study in the United States. He graduated from the Upper Division of the Glenelg Country School of Ellicott City, MD, in June 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016. At GCS, he took a public policy course with teacher David Weeks, and he shared his concern for the females of his tribal clan having to endure female circumcision. He wanted to spare his younger sister from having to experience it. He invited Mr. Weeks to travel to his home in Kenya that summer to help persuade the elders and his community of the importance of female empowerment with education beyond elementary and support for ending the traditional practice of female circumcision.
The two of them made presentations to the local church community, the Punyua Primary school community and a meeting with elders. Their efforts proved successful for the female circumcision practice for the Punyua clan of the Maasai was terminated in December of 2012.
The following year, some women of this tribal clan shared their painful experiences in childbirth from having been circumcised. They and others expressed the need to have a local medical facility to support the childbirth needs of women since the nearest hospital was more than an hour's drive from their homes.
Kikanae Punyua, lost his birth mother to death in childbirth. Both he and Mr. Weeks were eager to construct a medical dispensary to support the childbirth needs of women in his community and provide emergency care for those in need. With the help of the Glenelg Country School community, the Saint John's United Church of Columbia community and other donor friends, the construction of the Osiligi (Hope) Medical Dispensary became a reality in 2017. With the support of the Narok Health Department, it became fully staffed and operational in the summer of 2018 for Kikanae's Maasai community of 20,000 people.
As patients traveled to this medical facility, it became evident that another medical facility housing a pharmacy, dentist office, vision center, and a lab for making traditional Maasai medicine to complement the distribution of western medicine would be greatly valued. Plans were developed, and a contractor was hired.
The construction of this second medical facility is nearing completion. Interior walls have been plastered and window grills have been inserted. The building is within close walking distance from the Osiligi Medical Dispensary.
Patients attending the Osiligi Medical Dispensary will soon have access to a pharmacy for prescribed medicine and doctors attending to their dental and vision needs. $20,000.00 is needed to complete the construction of the interior. Once completed, the Site Manager, Kikanae Punyua will provide a list of equipment required for each office. Since this facility complements the Osiligi Medical Dispensary, the Narok Health Department will make it operational. Patients are already benefiting from medical services and your generosity with this GoFundMe will make the medical care for this Maasai community even more valued.
Thank you very much for your support. The Maasai in Kenya greatly appreciates your caring.
David Weeks, Director
Global Education and Community Service
Glenelg Country School
12793 Folly Quarter Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042
Ellicott City, MD