How it all started - from the idea to the German-Kenyan cooperation
Our current chief physician and hospital owner Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot, who himself grew up on a tea farm in Western Kenya and was able to study medicine inter alia through government grants, knew early, that he wanted to be a doctor to help people. To this day, it is his guiding principle that all people who need help should be provided with healthcare - regardless of their origin or their social status.
Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot as a young doctor worked in a large state hospital in Mombasa. There he observed that many needy patients did not get the medical help that was necessary. This is how he came up with the idea of opening his own hospital in which high-quality healthcare would also be provided for the needy.
After working in different hospitals in Likoni and thus having the opportunity to get in contact with patients from different village communities within Likoni, he realized that Timbwani needed the greatest support out of them: The village had primarly formed itself around a large hotel near Shelly Beach . This hotel was the economic motor and security of the village. Almost all residents had worked there or benefited indirectly from tourism through secondary job offers. After political unrest due to the upcoming parliamentary elections in 1997, tourism decreased. Eventually, the hotel had to close in 2001. To date, many well-known travel sites warn against the region around Shelly Beach. Thus, a far-reaching recovery of tourism industry has not been able to assert itself there so far. For the residents of Timbwani, this has meant the collapse of their economic security in combinatin with a persistent lack of prospects.
So, Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot decided to support the village using his private funds. He offered free medical treatment, spent food, and gave loans to build small businesses.
Eventually, he rented a small building in Likoni and opened Kingston Hospital there in 2004. The equipment was still simple, but it was sufficient for basic patient care. If someone was unable to pay the bill for his/her treatment, it was billed through the so-called Kingston Account. This meant nothing more than that Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot himself came up with his private funds for the cost.
His goal was to build a larger and better-equipped hospital to further improve health care for people in the region, including Timbwani. Since long time, a property in a good location near the ferry port in Likoni seemed suitable for that to him. However, it was not possible to find the owner to negotiate a sale of the property.
In 2011, there was a surprising turn: a woman in labor who had been observed by a traditional midwife in the village was brought to Kingston Hospital. Her baby was in breech position and while the baby's feet were already born, the rest of the infant’s body was stucked. The woman was unconscious and had already lost a lot of blood. Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot managed to save both the child and the mother. Afterwards, the infant's father, who noticed the small size of Kingston Hospital, thankfully offered his property for sale at a very fair price. Surprisingly, it turned out that it was exactly the property that Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot had been wanting to buy for long time. Finally, the property was bought and planning for the new Kingston Hospital started.
Also, in 2011, our current NGO’s chairwoman Maria Sedlmair travalled to Kenya for the first time. Back then, her plan has never been to found a NGO herself. She just wanted to get to know the country and its culture and, moreover, use her skills as a nurse to work in a Kenyan hospital for three months. She visited two hospitals in the region and decided to work at Kingston Hospital after a job interview.
Over the course of her voluntary work, she noticed that the staff at Kingston Hospital was medically well skilled, but there were no ressources giving possibilities for further diagnostic and therapeutic options. At the same time, she became aware that she did not want to limit the support she provided to her work at the hospital, but also wanted to help those in need at their home. A key event in this was the presentation of a young woman at Kingston Hospital asking for a pregnancy test after she was raped. Although many examinations and treatments were already paid through the Kingston Account by Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot, not all bills of all patients could be financed by this alone. Therefore, despite the doctor's mission statement, some patients had to be sent home without treatment. So was this woman. Affected by this story and inspired by Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot's Kingston Account, Maria decided to contact friends and relatives in Germany to collect donations. Her aim was to use it for Kingston Hospital as well as the needy people in the region to support them both medically and in other needs. When she talked to C. K. Cheruiyot about the plan she had made and asked for his participation, Maria did not yet know that, in addition to his medical work, he had also been doing socio-economic support in the region for a long time. Thus, Maria and Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot were very happy to work together on this project.
In this way, our current NGO’s chairwomen Maria visited the village of Timbwani together with Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot, nurse Mama Rita (Joyce Naftal) and other supporters for the first time. The team went from hut to hut and visited sick residents who suffered from e.g. diarrhea, malaria, fungal infections, lung or skin diseases. Often, people’s quality of life was severely impacted because of rather banal medical complaints which could not have been treated so far due to the lack of medical care. The team was able to treat many of them immediatly and alleviate their suffering and complaints.
Before Maria finished her voluntary work of three months and returned to Germany, Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot invited her to the previously acquired property and showed her the plans for the new Kingston Hospital.
Back in Germany, Maria tried to find sponsors for the building project of the new hospital. After this search for a sponsorship turned out to be more difficult than she had initially thought, she founded in consultation with Dr. C. K. Cheruiyot the NGO “Likoni - Healthcare for all eV” in 2012.
Since then our NGO has been supporting the further expansion and building of the Kingston Hospital. Since Maria's first visit to Timbwani, the treatments of needy patients have been funded through donations through the so-called German Maria Account. This account now replaces the former Kingston Account. In addition, structural, short-term, and sustainable support in the region shall contribute to improving the basic situation.