Sophie’s Diary – March 12, 2018

I have been dreaming about building a health clinic for women to give safe births in for 17 years. Ever since giving birth to my first daughter, where the delivery turned into an emergency C-section, I knew from that moment that I wanted to help other women around the world. If it weren’t for the wonderful medical care facilities in Sweden, my daughter and I would have had a lower chance of making it out alive. Many women around the world do not have access to the same health facilities as in Sweden and therefore the mortality rate for women and their babies during birth is higher. This is the main reason behind building the Maternity & Health clinic in Kenya, to reduce unnecessary deaths of mothers and their babies. Today we held a ceremony in order to start the building of the Maternity & Health clinic in Kenya together with ZB Foundation and Rejlers. I feel so extremely happy and proud!!!

After arriving at Kenswed Academy down a very steep and muddy slope, we were greeted by the staff and given a tour of the school. Firstly, we were shown the principal’s office and the new staff room. These are housed in the newest wing of the school which will be further extended, this year, with an additional floor. Next, the principal, Harrison, showed us the science lab. This is where they currently have a bank of computers for the use of the students. The long-term plan is to have a dedicated computer room when they have the space. The old staff room now houses a music room and studio for which Måns Zelmerlöw donated a guitar.

After looking around the rest of the classrooms we were taken to see the boarding dorm. The dorm houses 51 borders, all girls. We spoke to Naomi, the house mother, she was a very proud and happy mother for the 51 girls. Naomi told us that the girls apply for a place, the school assesses their requests, makes home visits and prioritizes those with the greatest need. The girls clean and do their own washing but have all their meals prepared for them by the school cook.

After visiting the dorm, we were called to the assembly room for the day’s programme since it was their graduation day! We had a joyful day of speeches, dancing and music: A group of Swedish exchange students performed a couple of dances accompanied by Måns on the guitar; there was a memorable speech from two recent school graduates giving thanks and urging the current students to have self-belief and to work hard. Måns performed his very beautiful song “Children of Tomorrow” and, later, presented gifts to this year’s graduates.

After lunch, we walked down to the site of the new Maternity & Health clinic. The clinic will be built on the land next to the school and will provide health services for the school and local community. Currently the local community would visit Ngong hospital, but this hospital is overstretched, it is normal for a pregnant woman to have to wait 6-8 hours to be seen.

We were joined for the ground-breaking ceremony by Isaac Macharia (the Kenyan elite runner who donated the land), the architect, a local doctor from the hospital and a local government official for healthcare.

After the ceremony a meeting was held to discuss the plans. Some changes were agreed to improve access, both from the outside, and inside the building. The meeting was just brought to a close as a thunder storm started. We all got back in the mini-bus and made our exit up the slippery slope just before the heavens opened.

This evening we were joined for dinner at the hotel by Isacc, his wife and two children. Isaac told us about his own life – he was from an extremely poor background. He was one of ten children and they often had no food. He said that even at a young age he felt responsible as he was the eldest child. Later, when his running career took off, he often sent small sums of money to his mother so that she could help her friends and neighbours. He is very passionate about giving back to the poor and helping the community. This is why he donated the land that the school and future health centre will sit on.

It is hard to sum up my feelings about today. The difference between my life at home and the poverty here is almost hard to take in. The day’s celebrations were loud and joyful, the children are eager to show what they can do, and really gave their all in the performances.

It was a very nice feeling that it is thanks to ZB Foundation & Rejlers that this dream of mine has come true. Thank you, thank you! The health clinic will bring a much-needed facility to mothers to be, the school children and all people of the local community! It feels so rewarding to know that we are doing something tangible and positive here.

Sophie Lööf

Lööf Foundation Chairman & Founder

 

                                     

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