Norway club delivers maternity ward to Kenyan village
The maternity ward at Diani Dispensary, built with funding from Norwegian and Kenyan Rotarians, offers quality maternal health care to needy women in Ukunda, Kenya. Photo by Timothy Jensz
Every year, Eilif Torma, of the Rotary Club of Diani, takes a break from Kenya’s sweltering summer heat and spends four months in his birthplace of Oslo, Norway. But his adopted homeland is never far from his mind.
Through his friendships with members of the Rotary Club of Røa, located in a suburb of Oslo, Torma has secured help for several projects in Kenya. Most recently, the Røa club donated NKr 100,195 (US$18,205) to construct a maternity ward at the Diani Dispensary in Ukunda, a project of the Diani Rotary club.
“They were looking for a project to support, and this was a very good one,” says Torma. Before its construction, women living in this impoverished village had to travel 30 minutes by bus to the nearest maternal health care facility.
The Rotary Club of Diani contributed KSh 1.8 million (US$26,906), hired contractors, supervised construction, and ordered the maternity ward’s equipment and supplies, which include six beds, a delivery table, kitchen equipment, and linens. On 12 July, District 9200 Governor Chris Mutalya officially opened the facility for business.
“The Ministry of Health in Kenya is trying to encourage mothers to go to maternity facilities like the one in Ukunda to reduce the number of childbirth complications,” says Tim Jensz of the Diani club. According to 2005 statistics compiled by UNICEF, for every 1,000 births, 79 children under the age of one die in Kenya, compared with 3 in Norway.
In addition to delivering babies, the facility offers pre- and postnatal care — all free of charge through an agreement with the Kenyan government. The club built the original dispensary in 1990. Over the years, it has been expanded and renovated and today serves some 35,000 people and treats around 800 patients daily.
“It’s very rewarding for me to see what my Rotary friends in Norway have been able to accomplish in Africa,” Torma says.
This article orginally appeared in the January 2008 issue of Rotary World.