Former NBA Star in love with Kenya
Kermit Washington is one person we have no words to describe his character. He has touched many people’s lives, especially those from the slums and denied himself his basic needs. He has made many trips to Nairobi the capital city of Kenya, sometimes selling off his property to make sure he supports this poor people. There is no single day he has slept without calling Nairobi that is Florence to know about this same people.
PRE – RAY OF HOPE CLINIC & COMMUNITY CENTRE
Florence first met Kermit and Dr. Teresa Gipson in the year 1997 in Portland Oregon, USA at a friend’s house and that was the beginning of the dream come true for these three individuals.
Who is this Florence – Her full names are Florence Manea Muyundo having trained and qualified Nurse, Midwifery, and Diploma in Clinical Medicine, General and Diploma in Pediatrics all, at Kenya Medical Training College in Nairobi Kenya. She is currently the Director at Ray of Hope Clinic and Community Centre.
Going back to their meeting, Kermit and Teresa were then involved in voluntary work in Kenya mainly, doing medical camps in the slums. Sometimes during these camps could be joined by USA Doctors such as J. Donkers who has come many times, Dr Sammy and some from Kenya, just to mention a few the late Professor Bwayo, Dr. Stephen Ndombi and some University of Nairobi University School of Medicine students.
Whenever they came to Kenya, they used to be accompanied by many friends who used to come and do these Noble calling.
Kibera – Kibera is a densely populated slum area second largest in Africa followed by Mathare. He started doing medical camps in the two slums areas alternating from 1997. The camps could only be held in a day and sometimes it became very difficult where to store the left over drugs for the next camp. After many consultations, Kermit requested Florence to look for some premises where they could be storing their drugs and making follow-ups on patients who had been administered.
RAY OF HOPE CLINIC AND COMMUNITY CENTRE
In 2004 the unfinished building, which was, just on foundation was found in Kawangware and Kermit made a commitment by paying some deposit so that we could retain the building. By October 2004 the building was ready for occupation. There were 3 departments or units that went along that is the Clinic, the Community Outreach and the Learning Centre.
1. THE CLINIC
The clinic started with three personnel -Asst. Physician, Administrator and Nurse Aid. It has now grown and in addition has one more Asst. Physician, Pharmacist, Lab Technician, two cleaners and one security guard bringing to a total of 9 personnel. Kermit has been a backbone to this clinic. He pays a monthly rent of USD 1,100 plus the salary for the lab technician. Apart from that he supports many people, giving tokens, paying for their medical bills, rents, school fees and awarding bonuses to the staff and many other contributions.
He also supported a girl who was volunteering at Mama Ngina Children’s Home to look after the young babies. He used to send 100 dollars every month to help her offset her outstanding fees from her former secondary school, where they could not release her certificate after completing form IV. He one time send her USD 1,000 dollars to pay for her travel ticket to Britain which ended up to some conmen. Despite to these he still continued to send her 100 dollars until in the year 2007 when she landed a nanny job in Italy where she also had an opportunity to further in her education and now has Diploma in Hotel Management.
Through him we were able to get from NBA Association – USA drugs which we cleared from the Airport.
There isn’t year that goes by without Kermit holding a medical camp at the clinic. He feels sad to see the poor locals paying for the drugs and yet they have no food or shelter. There are times when the clinic cannot make ends meet because they have no resources or run out drugs because of giving free medication. Kermit has stood by it and bought drugs or sent money to pay bills.
Dr. Teresa Gipson has been concerned with the well being of the clinic, she always solicited medical equipments, chairs dressings, drugs, and instruments that she once put in a container and got to the clinic. She has never stopped helping, every time, anybody came to Kenya, and she usually gave him or her something to get to the clinic.
The staffs have played a very big role particularly the Director, Administrator who volunteered in all aspects as we have short of staff.
2. COMMUNITY OUTREACH
This support group has been running along with the clinic. Kermit liaised with American University who used to dispatch volunteer students to come and work at the clinic. With the help of the community health worker, they were able to do door to door visits and know the type of people who were suffering and needed help. So in 2006 a community outreach support group was found catering for men, women and children with HIV/AIDS. These students also started a Tailoring school, where they identified some students and those who graduated were awarded with sewing machines and most of them are very successful.
Kermit worked so had and made sure they received nutritional food through Feed The children, a programme that ran until 2007. This programme benefited the malnourished children, their weak parents who became strong and were able to go back to their jobs. Among the support group some money was given to boost businesses that improved their stock and now most of them have very stable families and no longer ask for help from the clinic.
Kermit also used to take some members of the support group for shopping in one of super markets, where some locals had never stepped and were asked to pick whatever they wanted from food, clothing’s, shoes etc. This was done with the help of NBA basketball players.
3. LEARNING CENTRE
The children at the learning centre have their parents at the support group (community outreach). Most of them were HIV positive but because of taking drugs have turned negative. They were discovered when the American students were doing their visits, which found that there was a need for an informal learning centre to be started. In 2007 a learning centre was established to cater for those children who have never been to school or dropped out. A close study established that there were over 1,000 children who were not going to school and the matter needed to be addressed urgently. This is a time when Kermit together with Teresa Gipson requested to start an informal school. Two teachers were sort. In addition the cook joined the learning centre. It started as a rescue centre, but has over 60 children, through the influence of Kermit and Teresa. The 22 of the 60 have joined normal schools and yet those who have been left behind, eat well, dress and are taught how to read and write as they wait for their sponsorship to come by. As these children get sponsorship to normal schools, those waiting on the wait list fill their positions. These children dress in uniforms comprising from shoes, shorts and shirts, which Kermit and Teresa buy.