We did it! Our first full year is in the history books and we are excited to share our progress with you, as well as share some upcoming changes for UBL.
Although we are not a medical missions group, we spent much of our time and lots of energy in 2013 working with doctors and nurses, and readying our clinic for the public. We are grateful to all our medical friends and family for helping us make this an integral part of our ministry. Improved health and well-being are goals for Unboxed communities, and the free medical outreaches we were able to participate in this year helped us achieve those goals.
Our year started out with sadness as our Kenyan Director Jack Mila and his wife Evelyn lost their baby boy at birth, and just a week later, lost Jack’s mother to an accidental death. This was a devastating loss for our tight family of friends but as always, Jack taught us through his grief that we need to trust God with all we have.
UBL’s first team of the year arrived in Kisumu on May 5. The team was comprised of two halves – the Project Team, led by Cari Kommel (Benoit, Ohio), and the Admin Team, led by Unboxed US Managing Director Sally Lunetta.
The minute we touched down in Kisumu, the Project Team went immediately to work painting and upgrading the clinic building that was donated to Unboxed Lives. They may have gotten more paint on themselves than the walls, but they did a great job refreshing the tired building.
The Administrative side of the team included Pastor Jack and US directors Tanner Colton and Kolena Allen (Seattle, WA), Kathy Chin (Portland, OR), as well as our first board member, Laurie Boyte (Auburn, CA). We met for five days and set forth grand plans for UBL in Kenya and the US, before joining the Project team for some hard work.
The team came together to build, brick by brick, a kitchen for the Salem Farm Orphanage in Bondo, and held two all-day medical outreach clinics in the same area serving almost 800 people.
The next UBL team arrived in Kisumu July 8 and proceeded to the Saint Alice Academy to pour a concrete floor. This isn’t as easy as you might think….there are no cement mixers with hoses to pour out concrete for you. The team had to mix the concrete by hand with shovels, scoop it into wheelbarrows, and push it up a steep incline to the classroom needing the repair. Thankfully the team was made up of four men and their fearless leader, Kelly Jarrett (Roseville, CA), so there was no shortage of determination or muscle!
In addition to the work at the school, the team also took advantage of team member Dr. Jeff Joseph (Haymarket, VA), aka “Batman”, and his incredible skills, and held an outdoor medical clinic attended by over 300 community members. The team then spent two days visiting homes in another community, administering care to almost 50 bed-ridden patients.
In early August we received the bad news that our clinic building had been “taken back”. The donor may have had second thoughts over giving it away after seeing how great it looked refurbished! Regardless, it meant we had to start our clinic drive over, physically and financially.
Jack realized the best place for the clinic was in a building he already occupied near his home in the Nyalenda slum. He proceeded to move his motorcycle repair shop out of that building to another location nearer to the heart of town. He then made arrangements with the shop owner in Nyalenda to remodel Jack’s part of that building to house the new clinic. This location is ideal for Unboxed Lives – it is in the heart of the slum that Jack lives in and where our team stays with each visit, so the clinic will be serving our neighbors and friends.
By late September, the remodeling was nearly complete, leaving several coats of paint and new flooring to be applied as it was being finished up.
The final team for the year arrived in Nyalenda September 30 to find Jack waiting with paint brushes and lots of paint. Not long after, we arrived at the clinic building and started the week-long makeover.
Soon, the building was transformed and the clinic was born.
We held the first free clinic day prior to our grand opening and served almost 400 people before we ran out of medicine and time. It was touching to arrive very early that morning to see a woman already sitting on the bench waiting for the doctor. She had her beautiful baby with her – she was determined to get long needed medical care and we were so happy to be able to assist her.
A few days later the Health Department visited and “blessed” us by allowing us to open for business. After leaving a very long list of “to-do’s” with Jack, and after Jack promising he would get all of them done within the allotted time frame, the Health Department gave us the green light to open! This was a very exciting day for all of us!
In addition to the clinic upgrade, the last team of 2013 did a medical outreach in Orongo where we saw nearly 200 people before the rains came and shut us down…but…that’s another story!
We also spent two days painting school rooms at St. Alice Academy where the July team had installed the new floor – yes, this team was very busy serving the people of Kisumu and beyond!
The clinic is now officially and open and while we wait for the registration and licensing for our pharmacy and lab to be completed, allowing us to process lab work and dispense medication, we are now able to provide low cost medical care to thousands of needy Nyalenda residents.
We could not have done this without your help!
The end of 2013 has also brought change to the Unboxed Lives US team. Tanner and Kolena have decided to pursue a different path and have left their positions with UBL. We wish them all the best and will miss them terribly, but thankfully, God had this all in His plan and prepared the way by bringing some amazing volunteers to join us as we continue.
We are looking forward to getting back to the heart of our work in 2014 – the community development and training sessions that Unboxed Lives was created to facilitate and strengthen through cooperation, love and compassion.
Thank you all for your continued and generous support!
You have changed lives! God bless!