South Haven may be thousands of miles from Kenya, but one community there, particularly a rural hospital, is near and dear to the South Haven Rotary Club.
For the past couple of decades, the local club has helped one of its members, Dr. Marty Graber, pursue his dream of providing adequate health care to the community of Negoswani through the development of not only a hospital, but trained health professionals to man it.
Located 25 miles from the Masai Mara Game Park in southwestern Kenya, Ngoswani has grown from a settlement with a few buildings to a community with hundreds of homes and stores.
Part of its growth can be attributed to the South Haven Rotarians, members of the South Haven Black River Lions Club and Lions International, who made possible the construction of a school and what is now the Ngoswani Maternal and Child Hospital.
Rotarians are still continuing to provide support to the hospital by ensuring there is a consistent, safe water supply for the medical facility.
A global grant from Rotary International Foundation, together with grants from the South Haven Rotary Club, other Rotary Clubs in Southwest Michigan and individual Rotarians, will provide $75,000 for the construction of a 160,000-gallon concrete water storage cistern for the hospital.
The South Haven Rotary Club partnered with the Milimani Rotary Club of Nairobi, Kenya, to pursue the matching grant from Rotary International.
Graber has overseen development of the hospital and a neighboring school over the 40 years he has spent assisting people in Africa, by providing health care in remote areas. In addition to leading fundraising drives through such organizations as Rotary and Lions International, Graber has financially supported Kenyans seeking to become health professionals.
“Marty has been the inspiration for our club’s support of this project these many years,” said South Haven Rotarian Art Ayers, who helped coordinate the cistern fundraising project along with Rotary Club members Dan Thompson and Steve Larsen.
The population served by the hospital numbers 300,000 in Masai, Graber said.
Until recently, 95 percent of the births in the community were delivered by untrained members of the community in the traditional mud/dung homes of the Masai, with the death rate of babies and children up to 5 years of age as high as 30 percent.