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52-Year-Old Dream

Published: Feb. 12, 2021


Our 52-Year-Old Dream for A Community Hospital
"In the Middle of Nowhere" in Western Kenya

by Pastor Rose Jiveti
As told to Billy Jivetti

My name is Pastor Rose Jiveti. I retired in June 2019 after a sterling 67 years of ministry to Friends Quakers in Kenya. Over the years, I have witnessed a lot of maternal and child mortality in our community. I joined Kaimosi Friends Hospital as an apprentice nurse trainee in 1952, where I was trained by American missionary doctors. My specialization was in prenatal services, midwifery, and childcare. I was appointed by the doctors to sensitize and mobilize other women to immunize their children. I worked as a trained midwife and volunteered as a community health worker from 1955 to 2000.

Married at 16

I was born in the late 1930s and grew up in the 1940s and 1950s. I got married at the early age of 16 years. My parents were so poor, and based on the prevailing cultural practices, girl-child education was not valued. Girls were seen a symbol of wealth for the family through bride price and ‘auctioned’ off for dowry in early marriages. My parents decided to discontinue my high school education and instead paid for my younger brother. He became an accountant in the capital city of Nairobi.

The Dark Decades of 1950s-1960s

In the 1950s and 1960s accessing health care was such a tough issue. There were so many deadly and contagious plagues including tetanus, smallpox, tuberculosis, and whooping cough. So many families were ravaged. Immunizations and vaccines had not yet been developed. Child mortality was so high for children below the age of five, who often died very painful deaths. Due to poverty, the level of sanitation was so poor, hence the many infections. Housing was a major problem. Almost all houses were grass-thatched exposing us to cold, rain, and smoke from cooking using firewood. Due to the shortage of housing, there was a lot of communal housing in the village, where boys and girls would go to different homesteads for housing at night. That’s how many contagious diseases spread in the community. Hunger and famine led to malnutrition-related diseases like marasmus and kwashiorkor. This was also the period when measles ravaged communities indiscriminately. There could be on average 3-5 deaths in a family in a year. Clothes were in short supply. Children walked naked. Newborns were wrapped in their mother’s clothes. Many died from cold and pneumonia during the rainy seasons. Acute malaria is still a leading killer even to this day.

Family planning, contraceptives, pre-post natal services were almost non-existent. Births were not spaced, and a lot of children suffered debilitating conditions that resulted in stunted growth and high mortality. There was no way of telling when a pregnant woman was in labor. Traditional birth attendants would just ask a woman to start pushing even when not yet set for labor and birth. Eventually, a woman would just die from prolonged stress. Vital records were rarely taken. Most women could not recall the birth details, and so a lot children did not know their birth days. We just guessed the birth dates, using seasons, months, or events in the community. There was no knowledge about dosage. Self-diagnosis and treatment was common. Children were often overdosed because there was no knowledge about drugs or dosage.

My painful loss of a child

John, my first-born son was born in 1953. When he was 9 years old, he developed a heart condition. We spent sleepless nights holding him, as he suffered. There were few specialists and when the condition worsened, we were asked to take him to the capital city, Nairobi, which is a whole-day bus ride away. I left home to go look for an ambulance. I had just climbed the hill past the forest at our home when I heard wails behind me and someone rushed to tell me that my son, John had passed on. I was devastated.


Our home was just adjacent to Kaimosi Forest, a tropical rainforest which is a habitat to monkeys and several venomous snakes. During corn-growing season, the primates often prey on people’s crops causing a lot losses and even prolonged hunger. Crop owners often wake up early to go and guard against monkeys. One afternoon, my husband Joash was bitten by a snake while guarding the maize plantation. His father, Jacob, was an experienced honey harvester in the forest. Jacob applied the traditional medicine and, when we reached Kaimosi Friends Hospital on foot, the doctors were so impressed and gave him anti-venom that saved his life.

The Dream for A Community Hospital

In 1968, we donated a piece of land to build our local church. Then in 1969, I had a dream in which I saw a magnificent health care facility adjacent to the church.  In the dream, I also saw American missionary doctors and nurses delivering babies and assisting expectant mothers deliver children safely. Maternal-child mortality has been high in this community for decades. In my vision, I saw medical doctors helping to reduce this morbidity and mortality.

In 2002, Billystrom Aronya Jivetti (my last-born son) left our rural home near Kaimosi, western Kenya for graduate studies in the U.S.A. Growing up in this region and experiencing first-hand most of the health challenges facing rural communities, he developed a strong passion to use the knowledge and opportunities in America to assist his rural community in western Kenya.

It took several years of networking and telling the story in the U.S. Finally, in 2011, we broke the ground for our health center. This was about forty years since I had the dream. It brought a lot of joy to the community. 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.

Road, Water, and Bridge Infrastructural Challenges – In the Middle of Nowhere

Construction has taken slightly more than 10 years for three main reasons. First, Billy is the main fundraiser and has had to balance family, academics, and fundraising. Second, we ran into infrastructural needs that significantly dented our budget. We found out the hard way that we needed a permanent water supply system to sustain the construction. Currently, we are dealing with a water conflict between gold-miners, the community, local schools, and our health center. There was no access road to the facility, except a footpath. We have had to expand the access road to accommodate the bulky transportation of materials to the site. Lastly, the project is situated ‘in the middle nowhere’. It is inaccessible due to poor roads and the lack of a bridge. About 10 villages are still disconnected from accessing the facility.

“In the middle of nowhere," a three-story medical building has materialized against great odds with substantial impacts on economic gains for the villagers and has stimulated the economy and given hope for the future.

Ribbon-cutting and Launching is hoped for the Fall of 2021

The building is still unfinished and now faces a huge challenge. To be able to get a license, we need a good water supply, to hire health care workers, and to buy medication. It is intended to be launched in the Fall 2021. I don’t have much time left. My health is failing. Please help me witness my dream for a community hospital before my time on earth is over. It will have been 52 years since I dreamt about a community hospital.

An individual or a monthly meeting can adopt a room in our building that would be named in their honor, in exchange for a contribution.

Please send a tax-deductible gift to:

Billy Jivetti
Community Pathways Africa
2911 Van Horne Way SW
Albuquerque, NM 87121


Pastor Rose Jiveti retired in June 2019 after a sterling 67 years of ministry to Friends in Kaimosi Kenya.

Dr. Billystrom Jivetti is a research scientist at the University of New Mexico and a member of the Albuquerque Friends Meeting.