[This article is abridged from a longer version, which is at: https://westernfriend.org/media/48-windows-campaign-unabridged]
I grew up in the Kaimosi Friends Church in Kaimosi, a rural town of 10,000 people in Western Kenya. The Church was an important part of my life. Much of the community participates in this Church. Kaimosi is home to East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends. Quaker missionaries founded the Friends Church Mission in 1902, and they built the Kaimosi Friends Hospital in 1903. Quakerism became popular in Kenya because Western medicine and education were central tenets of Quaker spiritual transformation.
I grew up in a family of ten. My father’s paltry elementary school teacher salary could not accord us the basic amenities of life. We lived in a mud-walled, grass-thatched house until 1992, when my father constructed a brick house. Instead of a bed, we slept on the floor with several other children from the community. Our menu comprised mainly our staple food of cornmeal either for lunch or dinner, while breakfast was a cup of black tea with roasted corn or leftovers from the previous day.
We walked about three miles to get to school in Kaimosi. I spend my lunch hour sleeping under a tree, because the distance prevented me from going back home for lunch like most students. As a teacher’s child, I was the only one amongst the village children who owned a pair of shoes. It was common for my childhood friend Hesborn to borrow my shoes on special occasions like music, dance, or drama competitions in the town.
Primary health care is a challenge for most developing countries like Kenya. Vihiga County, where Kaimosi is located, has a mortality rate of 33.4% from childhood malaria, 10% from infant mortality, and 33% for young mothers during childbirth. Every year, our village loses close to thirty people who could have been saved by timely diagnosis and treatment.
My mother, Pastor Rose Jivetti, retired in June 2019 after a sterling 67 years of ministry to Friends. In 1968, she began dreaming of a health care facility adjacent to our church. She has witnessed a lot of maternal and child mortality in our community and has felt helpless. She joined Kaimosi Friends Hospital as an apprentice nurse trainee in 1952, where she was trained by missionary doctors. Her specialization was in prenatal services, midwifery, and childcare. She was appointed by the doctors to sensitize and mobilize other women to immunize their children. She also worked as a trained midwife and volunteered as a community health worker from 1955 to 2000. It is her utmost desire that she witnesses a healthcare facility serve our community before her time on earth is over.
In 2010, Pastor Rose’s dream for a community health center started to become a reality. With Kenyan government approvals and generous personal donations in hand, Kaimosi villagers prepared the land, transported sand, hand-made bricks, hoisted electrical poles, felled trees and hewed timbers, dug the foundation, mixed concrete with their feet, and mortared the walls. The building is still unfinished and now faces a huge challenge: it has no windows, and bats are moving in.
I am leading a campaign to install windows in the entire structure, a total of 48 windows. Each window costs $160, which covers the cost of steel and welding materials, design, glass, and labor for fitting the window. The total cost for the windows is $7,680. We aim to commence operation of the facility in Fall 2020, because so many lives are at stake from numerous health conditions. But we cannot open unless we have windows. Donations to this campaign can be made to the 501(c)3 not-for-profit called “Pathways Africa-Missouri.” You may send donations to:
Pathways Africa-Missouri, c/o Billy Jivetti
2911 Van Horne Way SW
Albuquerque, NM 87121-3708 U.S.A.
Billy Jivetti, Ph.D., is a member of the East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (Kaimosi Mission) and attends Albuquerque Friends Meeting (IMYM). He is a research scientist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
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