Everything that has been achieved in Kenya by HCK over the past 30+ years, in the early days until now, is down to the hard work and generosity of many individuals; founders, trustees, staff and volunteers, our hard-working Kenyan partners, and of course you, our supporters who have made it all possible. Here we meet just a few of the individuals who have helped Hospice Care Kenya make change happen in Kenya.

Gordon and Anne Davies have been supporters of Hospice Care Kenya for over 25 years:

Anne and Gordon Davies, at Hunter’s Lodge in Kenya celebrating their 50th wedding annivarsary

“I first went to Kenya in 1959 as a young graduate student and spent two years teaching at the Mombasa Institute of Muslim Education. Subsequently, I got a job working for Magadi Soda Company at Magadi Lake in the remote south of Kenya, near the border with Tanzania. I loved the wildness of the place, but after 4 years I moved to Nairobi, where I met and married my wife, Anne. Towards the end of my ICI career I returned to Magadi as Operations Director of a mining operation in a township in the heart of Masai tribal territory. We operated a 50 bed hospital, a reliable water supply and did a lot to support the tribe. I always found Kenyans such lovely people and so friendly towards us. These experiences left me with many happy memories and I developed friendships in Kajiado District.” ~ Gordon Davies

“A friend persuaded me to join the African Women’s League (EAWL). This was around the time the new Nairobi Hospice was being set up. Several of the EAWL members helped with the new hospice so I got to hear a lot about it. I’d never come across hospices before, it was new to me but it sounded a rather nice idea. So, from then on I became involved with convincing others who might be interested in helping. In 1994 we moved back to Devon. I continued as an EAWL member on the committee, hosting annual fundraising lunches in our house and garden. It was such fun and we enjoyed hosting it so much that we decided to hold a coffee morning as well. This became quite a big event and we raised a good amount of money for charity. We wanted our events to support a charity working in Kenya and liked the sound of a small charity, so Hospice Care Kenya was chosen. We have always felt that paying back is important and have been happy to support HCK ever since” ~Anne Davies

“We love Kenya, it has given us so much and we wanted to give something back by leaving legacies in our wills. We felt that a small charity like HCK will use our gift in an efficient manner to help Kenyan patients at the end of their lives.”

Gordon and Anne Davies

 

Hospice Care Kenya and Nairobi Hospice co-founder, Ruth Woodridge, shares her story:

Ruth Wooldridge (right) together with Lady Jean Johnson (centre) and Bronwen Biles (left) count the piles of cheques received in response to HCK’s BBC Radio 4 Appeal in 1996.

“In 1987 I cared for Nancy, a school teacher in Kibagari slum where I was volunteering as a nurse. She had two little boys and lived in a very humble one roomed dwelling with her mother. For Nancy, her cervical cancer was diagnosed too late for any treatment to be helpful. Caring for her at home with no morphine was very difficult. Eventually she died in hospital in great pain and very alone. I then spent a year visiting all the major hospitals in Nairobi, meeting oncologists and medical staff and enquiring how they might care for patients with advanced illness, cancer in particular. Mostly the consensus was that patients wished to go to their traditional home area to die and therefore it was not a great problem. Or that they could do nothing for them.

At the same time Jane Moore, also a nurse, had been caring for Sir Michael Wood who pioneered AMREF, the flying doctor service in Kenya. She too struggled to find appropriate pain relief as his illness advanced.  And importantly, Professor Kasilli, a wonderful haematologist and paediatrician, was introduced to us. He had spent time in Glasgow and understood what palliative care could bring to people with advanced illnesses and pain. After one of our early morning meetings at Professor Kasili’s office, before his busy day began, the vision we were working towards came to me in words: “Put life into their days, not just days into their lives”. This has become the motto for Nairobi Hospice and much quoted elsewhere too.

We worked hard to introduce the hospice concept to the Ministry of Health, and at the same time we stalked the grounds of Kenyatta Hospital looking for a site large enough to open a centre for palliative care. Eventually, a site was identified and approved by the MoH, and our little centre opened in 1990 with a £25,000 donation from a UK trust.”

In 1991, the Nairobi Hospice Charitable Trust (now HCK) began in the UK as a charity to support hospice care in Kenya. Our UK trustees came from medical and non medical backgrounds, and raised funds for supporting and extending the service in Nairobi. We raised funds large and small from participating in the Hospice UK Global singing of the Messiah at Dulwich College, to dog shows and fetes, to Archbishop  Tutu, a Patron of HCK at the time, delivering a Radio Four Appeal which raised over £65,000 in 1996. We were not prepared for such a huge response as you can see from the photo counting out the cheques on our kitchen table! This enabled the purchase of a vehicle for the home care team, medicines and paid staff salaries.

In 1992 HCK supported Dr Mike Hughes to join the team in Nairobi to assist with hands-on training and patient care. Mike, now a trustee, really took palliative care forward in Nairobi and inspired other centres to start outside the capital too.”

“The development of the hospice movement in Kenya has been inspirational and a model for other African countries. Much of this has been underpinned by the funding and generosity that  supporters of HCK have given over many years. Funding for nurses to have further training, vehicles for home visits, medical supplies, for running day-care and support groups, and training community volunteers to serve in rural villages where often health care is very limited.

Much of what has been achieved could not have been done without support from HCK. Your donations have made miracles happen and helped to reduce so much suffering for thousands of patients and their families.”

Sharon Maweu has been a Hospice Care Kenya trustee since 2021:

Sharon (left) with Chair of Trustees, Sally Hull (centre) and HCK Director Pauline Everitt (right)

“As one of HCK’s newer trustees, I feel privileged to be part of a team that provides compassionate care and support to those in need. My journey with HCK began while I was finalising my master’s dissertation at the University of Westminster, three years ago! My desire was simple – to make a positive impact in the lives of people facing tough times back in my country, especially cancer patients receiving palliative care. My background, working in South Sudan managing nutrition projects and in one of Kenya’s major hospitals as a dietician, made me deeply value the importance of comprehensive care for individuals with life-limiting illnesses.

I took part in HCK’s recent monitoring visit to Kenya where I saw the challenges   patients and carers face; lack of access to essential pain management drugs and affordability of wound dressing kits, in addition to long distances travelled to health centres for check-ups. The amazing work HCK does through our partners, the commitment of the hospice staff, the strength of the patients, and the incredible community support left a lasting mark on me. It reinforced my belief in the impact of our work, and I returned more motivated to continue supporting HCK’s vital mission. As we think about the influence of HCK and the enduring legacy of its supporters, I urge everyone to think about leaving a gift to ensure that this crucial work can continue for years to come.

A special call out to fellow Kenyans based here in the UK, we can create a lasting difference in the lives of those who need it most. Asante!”

Hospice Care Kenya would not have achieved what it has without the committed support that so many of you have given us. Leaving a gift in your will is one of the most valuable ways you can help our vital work continue making a difference into the future. If you would like more information on leaving a gift in your will please get in touch or visit our legacy giving page here.

Celebrating the heroes behind Hospice Care Kenya
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