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Orphan Outreach Builds Medical Clinic to Serve Kenyan Community
by Christine Bolaños
Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Mechimeru,a rural town in Bungoma County in northwest Kenya, is home to families facing extreme poverty and, in many cases, children who live with extended family due to losing parents to AIDS. For the last few years, Orphan Outreach has partnered with ACK Madeleine School, which serves 272 children in the area. The ministry partnership includes a school social worker, clinical professional, an agricultural program, urgent needs, and monthly sponsorships for students that provide quality education, two nutritious meals a day, and more.

Now, Orphan Outreach and ACK Madeleine School are expanding their community outreach with the building of a medical clinic on the campus of Madeleine school in the town of Mechimeru. Originally meant to provide basic medical services to the school’s students, the clinic will eventually open to their parents, the school’s staff and the surrounding community.

Determining the need for a medical clinic

“Where Madeleine School is there is no medical care whatsoever,” explains Amy Norton, Director of Programs for Orphan Outreach. “We wanted to help provide that for the area.”

She says the closest medical clinic is about two hours away.

“If we have a doctor there it’s because they’ve traveled from hours away,” Amy shares. “Everyone walks by foot or little motorcycles. Transportation is really difficult.”

Most families near the school earn a living as laborers or farmers. Medical clinic 1 Dr. Pike Roper, a U.S.-based emergency medicine doctor who is six years out of residency, and Mike Douris, president of Orphan Outreach, determined the need for a medical clinic after visiting and surveying the area about three years ago.

“They put together a plan for building a medical clinic, and Dr. Roper met with a local doctor to help design the clinic and determine what services would be provided - not only to the children but the community,” Amy says. She said Dr. Roper then provided a significant monetary donation toward construction of the clinic.

“He’s been a huge part of the passion and the vision behind it. He really helped keep it alive and raised the funds,” Amy adds.

Prior to establishing the clinic, Orphan Outreach sent a medical team to assess the needs of the area. medical clinic 2 “We wanted to not only see them and diagnose them but also treat them,” Amy explains. “We’ve been keeping files on every one of the kids so we can start tracking their medical records. We evaluate and track their health from year to year. In some cases, the kids had HIV and parents didn’t realize it.”

She says a medical team has gone out to Bungoma almost every year since Orphan Outreach first began having a presence in the town. Sometimes, the teams included specialists, such as dentists and eye doctors.

“The main thing is the medical clinic will serve the community and patients will pay a nominal fee to get medical services,” Amy states. “What we can offer out of the medical clinic remains to be seen. The plan right now is to have a general doctor treat a lot of different things that wouldn’t require surgery.”

A doctor moved to make a difference

Dr. Roper said the project is a pilot program for Orphan Outreach, that, if run successfully, could serve as a model to kickstart similar clinics in other countries and towns. He said the plan came about after Mike and he talked with the school and community leaders.

“Mike and I met several more times and really felt like a clinic for Madeleine School would be a really good start,” Dr. Roper shares. “It was amazing to see how God worked in that original intention and plan that it’d just be something to serve the students. It grew to students and teachers and to more teachers and families. The goal is to eventually have a whole regional medical center.”

He last visited Bungoma County over the summer, when he joined two other doctors, several nurses, therapists and other healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat patients. He estimates about 300 patients were treated over three days.

He says the medical staff diagnosed 70 cases of malaria.

“It was a good launching point for getting this going,” Dr. Roper says. “Getting everything from records implemented to pharmacy structure and labs to let us know where we’re at and where we still need to go.” He said the team also treated or diagnosed typical skin infections such as rabies and fungus; a child with a severe growth development who had endured multiple fractures; heart murmurs, advanced diabetes, intestinal parasites and high blood pressure.

medical clinic 3

The medical clinic is in the final stages of construction on Madeleine School property.

Dr. Roper says Mike’s son also made a hefty donation toward the project. He adds that, when Mike encouraged him to visit Kenya a few years back, he felt like it was a divine sign.

“After we returned from that trip, I was praying for clarity on God’s will and that my wife and I both felt like that was something God wanted us to do,” he recalls. “God is doing such amazing things with Orphan Outreach. They have such wonderful leadership; I’ve never seen an organization run as well as Orphan Outreach and that made us want to partner with them as well.”

Student patients get much needed diagnoses and treatments

He says the vision is to eventually treat up to 28,000 patients at the clinic.

“It’s more than I ever thought possible,” Dr. Roper shares, adding that the team is working on setting up a medical transportation service like ambulances. He says a clinical officer is already on site seeing students. There is an office and some equipment available for use as well. “We do have the pharmacy with medications and so forth and files and shelving open for students,” Dr. Roper adds. “In terms of having it open for the whole community, I really hope it’s within the next year.”

In the meantime, the impact of the medical clinic is already tangible.

Townspeople on the clinic’s impact

“As we have watched more children come to the school and receive a good education, we have also seen the struggles of those children and their families,” shares Bishop George Wafula Mechumo, who has witnessed the growth of Madeleine School and the difference the campus has made on the community.

“For years, we have had to take the students to other cities for medical care---often as far as Nairobi which is many hours away. The clinic allows us to first and foremost care for the children,” he adds. “And because we are caring for the children, we also have an obligation to care for their families. This is significant to the community that has little access to that care otherwise.”

Like most families in the community, Earles, who has two children in the school, and his family, live in a mud-and-stick hut with no electricity or running water.

“I want to provide for my family. I want to help my children,” he shares. “But I am not able to work---I still have a limp from breaking my leg, and I cannot move quickly. I thank God for Madeleine School---my children receive learning there, and they are fed there. This makes me happy. This gives me hope for my family.”

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