Posted by Dorothy Tecklenburg, Angelina East
Growing up in Masita, a small village in western Kenya, Angeline Anyango East witnessed human misery on a daily basis. But what stayed with her after she married American Bob East and moved to Pennsylvania was the way women suffered through the trials of childbirth.
 
“A woman might walk for an hour, then catch public transportation that bumped along bad roads for hours,” she said.  “And when she gets to the hospital there is no bed for her.  She either shares a bed without a mattress or takes her place on the floor.”
 
These women could not experience the joy of having a child.  
 
“When I had my first child in Pittsburgh,” she remembered, “I had a beautiful room. I vowed to  give at least one woman in Kenya a bed.”
 
She told her mother, still living in Kenya, what she wanted to do.
 
“Are you crazy child?” her mother responded. “You will be defeated. If the government can’t do it how could you do this yourself?”
 
“Just watch,” Angeline said.
 
Angeline joined the Rotary Club of Washington (PA) in 2018.  When the club was looking for an international project, Angeline told them about the situation in her home county.  The Club agreed to take on the project, and she had an answer for her mother:  “I have beautiful friends with big hearts.”
The efforts were perfectly timed.
The Bondo County Referral Hospital had just built a maternity ward, if thats what you would call a large empty room with no beds and no equipment. She asked superintendent Dr. Ochieng Odhochfor for a list of their needs, and it was extensive.  Their wish list included 26 beds with mattresses and sheets, incubators, baby cots and other medical equipment.
“We were able to raise around $6000, enough for fourteen beds.  We’re hoping to fund the remaining needs next year.”
But just sending money for beds was not enough for Angeline.  She wanted to be there when they arrived. She and her husband Bob traveled to Kenya in May to oversee delivery. At first, officials kept congratulating her husband. They could not believe a woman could achieve this.
In addition to doctors and hospital trustees, local dignitaries showed up, as well as a delegation from Masita, Angeline’s village.  They told her, over and over, “We are so proud of you, our daughter.”
Her mother’s reaction, in Luo language was, “Ma Omako Dhoga”. (“I am speechless”.)
It’s not only the beds that will leave an indelible impression.  The sheets are labelled “Nyamasita and Rotary Club of Washington PA”. ( “Nyamasita” means “daughter of Masita.”) A picture of club members will hang on the wall, and the unit will be named for Rotary.
The Washington Club wants to raise enough next year for the remaining beds and incubators to serve the approximately 200 women who give birth there each month. 
“Several clubs are interested in partnering with us on this project,” Angeline said. “We’re hoping to raise at least $12,000 through our efforts and matching grants to meet all the medical equipment needs of the Bondo maternity ward.”

One woman, who didn’t give her name, thanked Angeline, saying “We are blessed to have strangers come across the world to help us.”  That’s Rotary.

If your club would like to partner with us to help out in Bondo, Kenya,                                                  click here to contact the Washington Rotary Club!

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