Side Hustle: Transforming Communities Through Healthcare Access
According to a 2017 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, half the world’s population does not have access to essential health services. Lori Ingram was thinking of that reality in 2017 when she listened to the founders of Living Stone Global, a non-profit organization, share their plans during a church service to bring medical services to a school they founded near the Kenyan city of Nakuru.
Maisha Mapya supports over 200 students whose families live around Giotto, the city’s dump. Living Stone provides a full-time education, books, daily meals, and clean water to their students. They also offer education programs, gender-based violence relief, and healthcare initiatives for the student’s families.
“Their organization is built on the principle that transforming the community starts with serving the children,” said Ingram, who is currently an interim director of surgical services. “They were asking for volunteers during this church service, and I’d always wanted to go on a mission trip but never had the opportunity. When they described this healthcare component, I thought, ‘Yup, this is me. Sign me up.’”
They began by going directly to the local healthcare department to see how they could partner with them to bring healthcare service to the kids. There was no access to vaccines, which meant children were still dying of common childhood diseases, like chickenpox and measles, that most U.S. children are immunized against. The first event was a health fair at the school; Living Stone paid for the immunizations and lunch for the team administrating the shots. People were lined up around the corner before they even opened. Over 500 children received vaccinations.
They have also partnered with a nursing school in the larger community to have some of their students come and deliver medical care. In 2019, they expanded the school to include an office for a nurse, a person provided by the local health department whose salary is paid for by Living Stone.
“The most important piece partnering with the local communities,” Ingram said. “When we approached the health department, they were like, ‘You haven’t done anything.’ And we said, ‘Yes, right, we want to partner with you because eventually, we are going home.’ They appreciated that because people usually just come in, do stuff, leave, and then it all fails. We didn’t want that to happen.”
When the COVID pandemic began unfolding, and shutdowns started happening, there was concern about the interrupting services. For many of the children, their only solid meal came from school.
“We partnered with the Midwest Food Bank to provide meals and got permission from the government to open school back up just to do a feeding program for the community,” Ingram said. “We’ve been able to feed our kids, their families, and a lot of surrounding community throughout the entire pandemic.”
Ingram spent two weeks there on her first trip and has gone back twice since. Founders Dave and Kim Hatfield asked her to sit on the board to join other board members with a medical background to help with health-based decisions. In addition to providing vaccines, other healthcare services include dental, maternity/postpartum care, medical camps, and health festivals.
“I want to go back in person again, but being on the board allows me to help expand the ministry and continue to grow the school and help the community,” Ingram said.