10 kids. 2 beds. $12 a month. No husband.

Then a ruptured appendix.

This is Caroline. She is the mother of 5 children. In 2015, her husband died, leaving her a widow. Her brother Cosmas is the father of 5 children. In 2019, Cosmas’ wife died, leaving him a widower. Together, Caroline and Cosmas are raising 10 kids on $12 a month.

Caroline picks tea to make a little income. Monday to Friday, she is 27 kilometers away in Mogogosiek, plucking tea leaves. Cosmas does not have regular work. He does odd manual jobs to help pay for school fees.

All of the children are in school. The headmaster sometimes doesn’t ask for tuition fees because he knows how the family struggles.

Lorna on the right, in a blue sweatshirt.

Lorna is 15. In 2020, her appendix ruptured. $1500 for surgery.

What to do?

I walk into the tiny hut. On the left is the bed that all the females share. On the right are the open flames that boil tea leaves and bake ugali. My eyes water and smoke fills my nostrils. My throat feels tight. I start to cough. This is the girls’ bedroom.

Jennifer Sangei is Tenwek’s social worker. She spends her time evaluating the situation of patients, assessing qualification for financial aid.

Jennifer, on the right, giving people a reason to smile. The mother on the left has a son who benefitted from the needy patient fund.

I grew up in a children’s home, says Jennifer. I know what it feels like to be needy. I want to help others.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, Lorna benefitted from Tenwek’s needy patient fund and the debt of her surgery was completely forgiven.

Weldon is a CPA and Tenwek’s financial manager. He supervises six accountants who are responsible for payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash and credit control. He also oversees the needy patient fund.

I enjoy the compassionate side of accounting, Weldon tells me. There are so many needy people at Tenwek. They don’t have money. You can come to their level. We see what we can do to help them. At the end of the day, you go home and feel happy because of what you are doing.

~30% of Tenwek patients do not have health insurance and cannot pay their hospital bill. The Tenwek needy patient fund can only service between 20-30 patients (both inpatient and outpatient) per month. The list is long. The resources are limited. The fund is often depleted. Weldon tells me that if Tenwek were to cover the health care expenses of every single qualified needy patient, the amount would total to roughly $100k per month.

Lorna. She is one of many. One of many children. One of many needy patients. One of many poor Kenyans. One of many stories. 

It feels overwhelming. humbling. melting. motivating. Enter the stories of brokenness. Inhale the heavy smoke. Smell the hot maize. See the big smiles. And neglect not our precious brothers and sisters in Kenya.

2 thoughts on “lorna

  1. Excellent article and appeal, hope we get a lot of responses from it



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