Program Offers Kenyan Children Hope, Health
Americans, feeling overwhelmed by problems at home, might forget the people facing tough times abroad. Take Kenya. Although the country’s politics stabilized in 2007, the nation faces dismal health issues.
According to 2006 UNICEF statistics, 175,000 Kenyan children die each year before seeing their fifth birthday. Twenty percent of the children who are still living experience moderate to severe malnourishment.
And where there are unhealthy children, there are unhealthy parents. In 2006, UNICEF estimated that 750,000 Kenyan women, ages 15 and older, lived with HIV/AIDS. Without the treatments available in the U.S., mother-to-child HIV infection rates proved high — 35 percent of the children born to infected mothers contract the disease. Many of these children eventually lose their parents. In 2006, 2.3 million orphans lived in Kenya — 1.1 million lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.
Kenya’s health care system is unable to provide for its citizens. Few hospitals exist, and they find themselves overwhelmed. Patients often share beds. Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital asks patients’ families to provide food and medicine.
Foreign charities are helpful in bringing much-needed health care to Kenyan mothers and children. For example, Bread and Water for Africa, a project of Christian Relief Services that promotes positive change in Africa by supporting grassroots initiatives for self-sufficiency, health and education, is currently working to build a health center. The Lewa Community Health Center in the town of Eldoret will not only provide health care, but also help establish a sense of community.
Medical personnel will find jobs. Patients will have access to quality care. The locals displaced by political turmoil in 2007 will find reason to return to their homes.
In tough economic times, many Americans struggle to make ends meet. But even small donations can add up in big ways — a few dollars can go a long way toward improving the life of a Kenyan child.
For more information, visit www.africanrelief.org.