As many of you know, I have been working with Lwala Community Alliance, a non-profit organization in Western Kenya, for the past year. Although my time at Lwala is soon coming to an end, the year I spent there has become a formative part of who I am and what I wish to accomplish in the future. At Lwala, I have witnessed the power of bottom-up development as the local community has catalyzed massive transformations in the local healthcare and education systems. Further, the support and hospitality of my colleagues and friends at Lwala has made this place a second home to me. Lwala has given so much to me, and in return, I am hoping to give back in the best way I know how to--by running 26.2 miles and representing the organization in the NYC Marathon on November 5.
In a region afflicted by a high frequency of ailments such as malaria, malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS, Lwala has more than halved the infant mortality rate, ensured that 97% of deliveries are performed by a skilled attendant, and raised the rate of full immunization among children to 96%. Lwala succeeds by recruiting former traditional birth attendants into the formal health system and equipping them as household community health workers. In my role at the organization, I have worked extensively with these Community Health Workers (CHWs) as I built a mobile application to allow them to better track the health of their clients. In this time, I have witnessed the extraordinary passion these CHWs put into championing health into their community: spending the night at the hospital to ensure children are getting the care they need, leading the effort to build latrines in the community, and combatting stigma toward HIV-positive individuals in the area.
One of my core beliefs is that every person should have the opportunity to succeed in life, and I support Lwala’s mission to ensure that no child should die of preventable causes before the age of 5. As such, my goal is raise $5000 to provide complete medical services to 50 children for 2 years. The proceeds will be used to provide childhood immunizations and emergency care at Lwala’s clinic, giving children the chance to live normal, healthy lives and reach their potential. A small donation can go a long way for a child’s health, and I am incredibly grateful for any donation consideration.
Founded by two brothers from the community, the Lwala Community Alliance is a community-led innovator proving that when communities lead, change is drastic and lasting. It operates in rural western Kenya, a region where infant and maternal mortality rates are high and HIV rates are almost triple the national average. Lwala partners with communities to source, measure, and share bottom-up innovations to address these challenges. As a Vanderbilt-affiliated organization, Lwala is building an evidence base proving that local solutions are uniquely positioned to transform health systems.
Alongside the Ministry of Health, Lwala seeks to influence how 1 million people access healthcare with an end goal to cut maternal and child mortality in the region. In addition to running a community hospital that provides primary care, maternal and reproductive health services, and HIV care and treatment through nearly 50,000 patients visits each year, Lwala operates an extensive network of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and nutrition and educational outreach programs.