Kenya elections update from our partners in Lwala

The following update was written by James Nardella, our partner in Lwala, Kenya of the Lwala Communty Alliance and our support of the Ochieng’ Memorial Lwala Community Health Center

The Lwala Staff conducting a recent youth outreach activity on reproductive health
















by James Nardella of RMF Partner The Lwala Community Alliance

The Election

The election on Monday was generally peaceful, as I am sure many of you have been following in the news. The results are still coming out, and you can click here for a very good way to keep up with them. If you hover your cursor over individual counties you will see that the results per county are a little troubling. For instance, in the counties near Lwala in the West (our county of Migori, or our neighbors in Homa Bay, Siaya) Raila Odinga took nearly 100% of the vote. In Central Kenya (e.g. Nyandarua and Nyeri),  Uhuru Kenyatta is winning nearly 100% of the vote. Overall, it looks like Odinga will lose to Kenyatta, which, of course, is counter to the hopes of the people in and around Lwala. Looking ahead to the certified results, which should come out on Friday or Monday, our immediate worry would be that some people in Migori, Kisii, and Homabay counties will handle this news poorly. Our hope is that they will not respond violently.

It is also possible that Kenyatta will win but take less than 50%, which would lead to a run off with Odinga in April. This looks somewhat unlikely, but we will see by Monday. Imagine though- 99% of your neighbors voted the same way you did and yet your candidate loses. There is at the least a false expectation in our region that Odinga will win.

Our Safety Precautions

As a precaution we have evacuated our American staff members. They have been staying in Mwanza Tanzania and the plan is for them to remain there until results are known. Both are safe, in a pleasant lodge on Lake Victoria.

The hospital still continues to provide services, though at a low volume. Some of the Kenyan staff who are not Luo are delaying their return to work until results are out. Local staff are at work now, though schools and local business have mostly been closed this week, which means our education and economic development programs are on pause. We have also had extra security on the Lwala premises since 2 days before the election. We are trying to be prepared for even village level unrest. I am proud of the forethought our team has shown.

Migori County and basic commodities

Our Kenya Program Director reported today: “I travelled this evening to my home in Migori. All the shopping centers and big towns I passed seem to have opened for business. Unlike Tuesday, there were matatus and some buses on the road, hawkers have returned to the streets, and shops/stores were opened. The big surprise/shock is that there are no basic commodities like bread, milk, maize/wheat flour, anything. Food was not on the shelves at the supermarket I visited in Migori. There is no fuel anywhere.”

After a 5 day hold up on our monthly wire transfer, the Kenya side of the organization has money in the bank right now and drugs and some commodities on site but we will be watching this situation closely to make sure we are not surprised by shortages.

The Big Picture

The big blessing so far is that the process has been more fair and democratic than the process was 5 years ago. Our long term worry for the country as a whole is that the election was almost entirely on tribal lines and the new switch to decentralized power at the county level may exasperate this in the future. The likely winners, Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto, are both charged by the International Criminal Court for crimes related to the post election violence in early 2008. A ruling against them by the ICC while they are the sitting leaders of Kenya could be very bad for international aid and to the reputation of Kenya. Even the suspicion they are under now is delegitimizing at best. Overall we pray for continued peace and a smooth transition of power. Carrying out the full implementation of the new constitution in the upcoming months and years will be complicated no matter who is president. It is likely more critical than ever that strong civil society organizations like the Lwala Community Alliance exist at the local level in counties like Migori, Kisii, and Homabay. We will be needed in the days to come. You will be needed in the days to come.

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Thank You For An Amazing Year!

Photo: Dr. Martina C. Fuchs, RMF Founder/CEO, making new friends at the Lwala, Kenya Community Hospital, October 1, 2011

We are so grateful to all our friends, supporters and teams around the world and wish everyone a fantastic 2012!

Having wrapped up another successful  we want to pause and say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who supported our work in 2011.  You have helped us achieve so much, and we give our deep thanks to everyone for your generosity and support!

In 2011 we..

  • In Japan, post-earthquake and tsunami, RMF reached over 33,000 people in Ishinomaki City with supplies, debris/sludge cleanup, and community center support.
  • In India, in RMF’s Malnutrition Eradication Program, our field staff of 75 Community Nutrition Educators diagnosed and treated 85,016 cases of Acute Malnutrition in more than 600 villages since our program started in 2010.
  • In Uganda, we provided healthcare, education and vocational training support to 55,000 refugees at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement.
  • In South Sudan, 40 Nurses and Midwives at the RMF sponsored first-ever accredited Nursing and Midwifery College in Juba, are beginning their 2nd year of training.
  • In Pakistan, RMF treated more than 25,000 flood victims at our free medical camps, 32,000 patients at our clinic in Gulbella and provided healthcare in Talhatta for more than 150,000.
  • In Haiti, our free clinic at Hôpital Lambert Santé provided public access to 24-hour emergency and general healthcare to a community that is home to more than 100,000 displaced persons.
  • In Kenya, we upgraded the only hospital for 1,000,000 people in Lodwar, Turkana, starting with the pediatric ward and also continued to provide medical support, food and water to thousands through mobile and stationary clinics in the poorest and most drought ravaged regions in Kenya.
  • Closer to home, in South Los Angeles, RMF provided 70 children with new backpacks filled with school supplies and personal products, and just threw a Holiday Party for these children on December 17th.

From all of us at RMF: Have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2012!

Real Medicine Foundation in Turkana, Kenya: A Documentary

Our new 15 minute documentary film covers both the history of Real Medicine and highlights our medical and relief work in Turkana, Kenya. This film features incredible on the ground footage of our relief efforts in Turkana, footage of our founder Dr. Martina Fuchs in action, and an interview with New York Times author Jeffrey Gettleman whose article inspired our work in Turkana.  A very special thanks to the whole RMF production team, but especially George Papuashvili, who tirelessly donated both his time and talents to producing this moving documentary for RMF.  Remember to have your YouTube viewer set to High Definition to enjoy this film as it was meant to be seen.

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Even in a good year life in the Turkana region in Kenya is precarious but a devastating drought has been sweeping this part of the country for years and pushing malnutrition rates well past emergency thresholds.  Some villages haven’t seen rain in years.    Inspired by a September 7th, 2009 NY Times article, written by Jeffrey Gettleman, which highlighted the life threatening impact of the drought in Northern Kenya, Real Medicine Foundation was called to action to coordinate a supply chain for water and food aid and medical support to the region. Dr. Martina Fuchs, RMF Founder and CEO, followed up on the ground just days later to oversee the food distribution and provide medical treatments.  We gathered every resource at our disposal to gather water, food and medical relief to these children and families.

Now a year later and through our partnership with Share International (SI), the new Real Medicine Foundation – Share International Health Program has been operating successfully since December 2009 delivering primary healthcare and much needed healthcare services to Lodwar and the surrounding areas and remote villages.

For more information about our Turkana Relief Project please visit here.

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Kenya: Two Babies and our 100th at the Lwala Community Health Center

by Jonathan White

Last month, Real Medicine’s Lwala Community Health Center in Kenya welcomed two 18 year old first time mothers on a Saturday morning: Millicent, nearly silent in labor  in one corner, and Maureen, a vigorous and loud laborer in the other.  There was never better proof of the need for a larger space for deliveries in our clinic, Real Medicine’s support of the new maternity center is much appreciated. Despite the small space, Clinic Officer Michael Omollo and clinic founder Milton Ochieng’ MD were smiling as silent Millicent pushed out a crying healthy baby girl.

Maureen’s vigorous, athletic, and loud labor response was a stark contrast and kept the team on their toes.  A second crying and healthy baby girl was welcomed about an hour later.  This was baby number 100 for the Lwala Community Health Center!  These children have all been born in what was originally designed as a kitchen and was converted to a birthing facility when laboring mothers began to come.  Groundbreaking for a much larger and proper maternity unit is planned for August 2010.

For more information about this initiative please visit:

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Kenya: Opiyo’s story and RMF’s Lwala Community Health Center

by Jonathan White and James Nardella

Real Medicine’s Ochieng’ Memorial Lwala Community Health Center in Kenya is a community-based health care project that is managed and supported in partnership with the Lwala Community Alliance, a U.S. based humanitarian organization.  The mission of the clinic is to meet the holistic health needs of all members of the Lwala Community, including its poorest.

Whenever possible it addresses health problems at their roots through community health interventions.  It aims to provide excellent community-based health care, not to become a tertiary care facility.  The health center is part of a larger effort to achieve holistic health and development in Lwala, including educational and economic development.

The primary beneficiaries of the Lwala Community Health Center’s work are children, pregnant women, HIV infected persons and the elderly. Prior to the establishment of the clinic, there was no immediate access to primary health care or HIV/AIDS testing and care.

For this reason, the Lwala health intervention has focused on primary care for children, access to medicines (particularly vaccines and antimalarials), HIV testing and care, public health outreach and safe maternity.

Opiyo’s story

Like many areas of East Africa, malaria is endemic in the lowlands of Lwala, Kenya near Lake Victoria.  Children under age 5 are at the greatest risk of dying.  Opiyo, 6 months old, was near death when he arrived after dark the Lwala Clinic.  His racing heart and panting lungs were trying hard to push oxygen and anemic blood through his small body. Fluids, a transfusion, and malaria medicine were desperately needed.  Unfortunately Opiyo’s dehydrated body prevented the clinical officer, a visiting Pediatrician, and Milton Ochieng, MD from getting an intravenous line started.  Opiyo and mother, Milton and Fred Ochieng, and driver Joseph “Boy” piled into the Real Medicine funded 4 wheel drive ambulance and quickly headed for Kisii Provincial Hospital, one hour away.  Again the emergency room staff could not gain standard intravenous access.

Dr. Milton’s recent intensive care experience in St. Louis kept him from giving up.  After explaining a risky jugular vein IV insertion to Opiyo’s mother, obtaining consent, and saying a short prayer, Milton proceeded to insert a jugular line, blood was started, and Opiyo was on the road to recovery.  The many parents of other sick children in the jammed emergency department had watched the drama, and sighed with relief and awe for Opiyo.

For more information about the Lwala clinic in Kenya:

If you’d like to donate to this or any of Real Medicine’s causes, you can click the donate button on this page or through our website at

East Africa BBC Report: Lack of Rain, mass loss of Lives

Water Distribution Kids 2

From BBC World News: Millions at risk as East Africa rains fail

Aid agency Oxfam warns that a failure of rains across swathes of East Africa is putting millions of lives at risk.

This is the sixth successive season of failed rains in an area already hit by its worst drought in 20 years.

Some 20 million people face starvation in vast areas of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, the UN has already warned.

Oxfam says November rainfall was less than 5% of normal in much of Turkana in northern Kenya, all of Somaliland and Ethiopia’s Central Highlands.

In Turkana, one of the worst affected areas, nearly one person in three is malnourished.

The crisis is most severe in parts of Somalia, where worsening conflict and the drought have left 3.6 million people – a third of the country’s population – in need of aid.


“The rains were many people’s last hope, but they have failed again, said Oxfam’s deputy humanitarian director Jeremy Loveless, who just visited Somaliland.

He said more must be done to help communities cope with the dry years through long-term rural development and investing in national agriculture.

“But in the short-term lives are at stake and emergency aid is needed now,” Mr Loveless said.

The aid group said 1.5 million cattle, goats and sheep – on which many rely – have already died.

The cattle that survive are being sold off at rock bottom prices.

To make matters worse, farmers are leaving the land to search for a living in cities already suffering from high unemployment.

Real Medicine is working in Turkana. Find out more

Join our 2010 LA Marathon team and help raise money to send food and water to Turkana, miles by mile, gallon by gallon:

Drought in Kenya Devastates Millions

_41390008_droughtlong_paThe following has been taken from Drought, death grips Kenyan heartland, by David McKenzie, CNN:

September 2, 2009

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For as long as anyone cares to remember, the pastoralists of Kenya’s Rift Valley have fled with their herds to the fertile slopes of Mount Kenya when times are tough. When the rains failed this year they set off once again in search of water and pasture — but they found only despair.

Across the folds of this mountain everyone has the same story. Hundreds of dead cattle dot the forests, young herdsmen try to coax ailing calves onto their feet, knowing that if they don’t get up they will die.

Millions of Kenyans are facing the same stark reality. The World Food Program (WFP) says that, together with the Kenyan government, they will need to feed 3.8 million people across the country.

download The Banger Sisters dvd “We are facing a really difficult situation. We realize that the world economic crisis has affected the amount that countries can give to us,” says WFP spokesperson Gabrielle Menezes, “But at the same time we are seeing an awful situation in Kenya. If we don’t start feeding people now things are only going to get worse.”

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For the full article, please click here

For information on Real Medicine programs in Kenya, please visit:
Real Medicine Kenya Initiative Page
Vanderbilt/RMF Partnership in Lwala
Lwala Community Alliance Homepage The Hills Have Eyes II video
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Photo Credit: BBC News

Kenyan refugees in Uganda find solace through acupuncture

Dispute over results of the 2007 Kenyan presidential election resulted in widespread demonstrations and ethnic violence. Tragically, over 300,000 people were displaced and as many as 12,000 Kenyans made their way into neighboring Uganda to find shelter in refugee camps.

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One specific need among the refugee population was treatment for the psychological effects of trauma, and RMF was quick to get on the ground and assist, bringing acupuncture services to camps. Black Irish movie full

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Recent studies suggest that acupuncture may be as effective as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for psychological conditions. “Acupuncture is a proven, easily transportable, and cost-effective healthcare tool,” says Megan Yarberry, RMF’s Team Whole Health Project Coordinator “We’re hoping to provide support and healing to hundreds of people each day.”

This last December RMF visited the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement and found the acupuncture program thriving.

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