One bucket at a time pg. 2
“In the absence of funding, it will be hard to see this dream come to fruition.”
Ochieng’ – whose last name is apostrophized in his native language – is not dissuaded. He has overcome impossible odds before.
Ochieng’ is a courteous, attentive and respectful young man with the body of an athlete. When he speaks, it is with well-considered words in a moderate tone.
His easy-going manner belies the harsh realities of his homeland. Given a chance to describe his world, his passion to help his village becomes immediately apparent – and infectious.
The remote three square kilometers of Lwala village in western Kenya – more than a mile from the nearest highway—are home to approximately 1,500 people, mostly subsistence farmers.
Poor physical infrastructure, lack of electricity, and lack of reliable drinking water present dramatic challenges, but basic infrastructure is a minor concern compared to the village’s healthcare needs.
During the two annual rainy seasons, the village is virtually cut off from the outside world. The nearest medical facility is seven miles away and provides only basic clinical services. Patients with acute illnesses or injuries must seek treatment at government hospitals in Kisii or Homabay, each 25 miles from the village.
Milton recalls one instance in which a pregnant mother experienced complications during labor. “Her relatives put her in a wheelbarrow and pushed her to get to the main road to the hospital, but she hemorrhaged to death before they reached the highway,” he says. “Unfortunately, the unborn baby died in the womb too.”
A high incidence of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases contribute to a significant infant, child and adult mortality rate. Nationally, 7 percent of Kenyans have HIV/AIDS, but the HIV infection rate for the Nyanza Province where Lwala is located is closer to 30 percent.
The infant mortality rate in Kenya is about 120 deaths per 1,000 children – 15 times the average rate in the United States.