This Father’s Day, Save Lives
It’s common sense. Ambulances and emergency vehicles save lives. But sadly, most mission hospitals and health facilities serving the poorest communities just can’t afford them. That means pregnant women and sick children die needlessly. You can change that. Donate now to help us purchase ambulances and emergency vehicles just in time for Father’s Day.
Why now? We asked Robert Munyan, who works at the Mutomo Mission Hospital. He drives a single ambulance that serves more than 180,000 people. His job is critical.
My name is Robert Munyan and I am from Mutomo, Kenya. I have worked at the Mutomo Mission Hospital for over 15 years. Since I started here, I have seen so many changes. I started at the hospital before there was even an ambulance.In the past, you lived with what you had. There was no other option. Women used to get their delivery pains far from the hospital, in the villages. They were carried on their backs or in carts to the main road, just to find some means of transportation. The sad part of this story is that some women would not make it. I saw this happen and it was very painful. At this time the traditional birth attendants were very active in the villages. They would deliver babies but if a delivery became complicated, that was the end. Without medical training or the proper equipment there was nothing they could do. It was not only pregnant mothers who lost their lives because their homes were too far from the hospital, but also very sick people.
I was here when the ambulance first came to our hospital. Wow, that was very good. After seeing what happened to people in the past, having an ambulance was such a relief. I remember people coming to the hospital and standing around the ambulance just to look at it. That was enough to create a demand for the ambulance.
At this time, the single four-wheel drive ambulance serves the entire catchment area of the hospital. Only one of the satellite healthcare facilities has a motorcycle ambulance. They are not enough to reach everyone who needs emergency care. The four-wheel drive ambulance that I drive has saved over 50 lives! It has transported people with snakes bites, pregnant women, and people from the comprehensive care clinic. It also carries patients to Nairobi.
Emergency transportation brings a feeling of relief throughout communities. People are free and humbled because they can call the ambulance at any time. Most people here do not have cars, and there are few vehicles that can access the most remote communities over the rough, dirt road. Ambulances are necessary in case of any emergency.
One day I received an emergency call from a community, about 60 km from the hospital. There was a woman at a dispensary, whose delivery had become complicated. I went to pick up that woman as soon as I was called. The nurse that was with her said the woman had been in labor for almost two days. We were all afraid of what might happen to the woman and her baby. When I arrived, we put the woman, the nurse, and a relative in the ambulance and drove to the hospital. We arrived back at around 9 pm. It all happened in such a rush. The woman wasn’t even taken to the delivery room. She had been bleeding for some time and needed a transfusion. Within an hour after arriving at Mutomo Mission Hospital, she had delivered. She had a baby boy, and she named him Robert. The mother of this young boy told me that he was named after me. It meant my name was being passed on. I felt happy that someone was named after me, because of a good thing I had done. But, the real happiness came from the successful delivery and good health of the baby boy.
When I drive someone to the hospital, I get a bit anxious. But, that anxiety has to be there because you are trying to save a life. You have to be careful not to cause more damage. Often, you drive on rough roads, especially after the rainy season. You have to drive fast but, also carefully. That is the challenge. We cannot make the roads better, that is beyond our reach.
Things have changed for the better now but still, we really need better equipped ambulances. One, older model four wheel drive ambulance can’t reach everyone who needs help. The smaller healthcare facilities in the most remote communities have no transportation at all. We hope to provide each one with at least one motorcycle ambulance. We’re working hard to keep pregnant women, sick children, and the elderly alive.
In marginalized communities like Mutomo, dedicated people like Robert are heroes. And you can be a hero too. Make a gift—$100, $200, $500 or any amount—to honor your father or another remarkable man by Thursday, June 14 and we’ll share a special card, just in time for Father’s Day.