Dala Development Programs was founded in February of 2008 for the purposes of working with community members in Konden'ge village (in Western Kenya, near Kisumu), to overcome the many challenges they faced. It was a Community Based Organization (CBO) originally intended to operate on a small scale in one small place. The CBO established multiple programs aimed at alleviating those challenges that kept the community from thriving. Like any organization tested by time, our focus changed and the work evolved. Rather than focusing on many programs in one village, we are now focusing on two programs with the greatest leverage, spread throughout in multiple areas of Kenya: Health and Education.
Ngwono School began in 2009 as a nursery school established by the community. They identified the need to have a school that offers consistency, reliability, and resources. The community wanted a place where children could be guided with focused attention and given a strong Christian foundation, and there were no viable alternatives for them.
At present we have more than 100 students from preschool to 5th grade, and beginning in January of 2018 we will add 6th grade. The school is located at the Africa Inland Church in the village of Soi.
Ngwono School brings pride to the local community and instills a solid education from proven community educators that are fully invested in our children. Our teachers are amazing; committed and hard working. They see their job as a calling and an opportunity to mold young minds and hearts in the example of Jesus.
Learn more here.
The genesis of our involvement in Health and prevention programs can be explained by a very personal experience:
In 2009 there was a grandmother named Dorcas who had been sick for some time. Widowed and alone, she was only able to seek treatment when someone else had the money to help her do so.
She sought help from Dan, the founder of Dala Development, explaining that something unusual was happening in her body. Pointing to her chest she said, “Feel this, it’s like there are stones under my skin.”
At the local clinic they misdiagnosed it as tuberculosis and gave her medication for it. Unsatisfied, Dan brought her to the mission hospital where they took an x-ray. Though they could take an x-ray image, they did not have a qualified person to read it, so Dan and Dorcas headed to the provincial hospital in Kisumu.
At the hospital, the largest in the region, they were informed that there were only two radiologists working in the public sector. One was traveling in South Africa and the other had recently died.
Dumbfounded but resolute to get a proper diagnosis, they went to a private practice where the doctor said it was likely cancer. Further tests were taken and the diagnosis was confirmed: late stage breast cancer. Three months later, she died.
The journey from identifying that something was wrong to a diagnosis took weeks and lots of money. It involved traveling distances and waiting in lines, expecting to see a doctor who never became available, and navigating an unfamiliar city.
Socially it was difficult too. Cancer was believed to be a rich white man’s disease, not a poor African’s disease. Rumors spread about Dorcas and people didn’t want to visit her in fear that they would catch her cancer. The community’s lack of understanding led to near isolation and intense sadness.
After walking this journey with a vulnerable, rural woman and unable to ignore the hardships, a simple breast cancer awareness program was born. Growth happened in the following phases:
Phase 1 - Information: Sharing information about prevention & detection in the local language. Our staff go door-to-door, to schools, and around markets to tell people what cancer is and symptoms to look for.
At present, our staff has a general knowledge of the most common cancers in Kenya (cervical, breast, prostate, and esophageal), and informational pamphlets to distribute for each. They perform community awareness in the wide-ranging areas of Kisumu, Nyakach, and Kanyamkago.
Phase 2 - Screening: We provide assistance beyond the local clinic by helping patients obtain screening services and advanced care. We provide logistical support and will advocate for the patients to help them navigate the cumbersome Kenyan healthcare system. This service is available to a person with any kind of cancer or suspicion of cancer.
Phase 3 - Treatment: We work very closely with Kisumu Hospice and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) to offer support for anyone who needs treatment. We assist women and other patients in covering the high cost of treatment including lab work, pain medication, the purchase of chemotherapy drugs, and more. Including this phase has been profoundly impactful. Many patients see themselves as unworthy of such expensive interventions and will often forgo them, die, and leave orphaned children in a worse situation than before.
Phase 4 - Housing for the sick: Nairobi is the only city in the entire country that offers radiation treatment (Eldoret may be opening one soon, thankfully). Traveling to the capitol can be intimidating and cost prohibitive. Having to find and afford a place to stay plus navigating the hospital can be enough to keep some patients from seeking treatment at all, especially if they only speak mother tongue (not Swahili nor English). The cost of inpatient care is not only cost prohibitive, but there is an alarmingly long waiting period for a bed.
We established an affordable 8-bed residence for rural women undergoing radiation treatment. It is located in close proximity to the National Hospital and another private hospital with affordable radiation services. The residence is named "Joanna's House" after two wonderful women, their names blended. The one who funded its establishment, "Jo..."; and the other, a mother of five who lost her battle with breast cancer but never once despaired, "...anna."
Thanks to generous donors, patients staying at Joanna’s House only have to pay $5/day which includes three meals, transport to and from the hospital, and an escort/advocate during the early visits to clarify all details for the patient’s understanding. We have had the honor of hosting women from all over Kenya and even Rwanda.
Phase 5 - Medical Camps & Clinical Outreaches: Multiple times each year Dala Development Programs partners with other health and medical care providers to offer a day (sometimes multiple days) of screenings, lab tests, doctor examinations, and more. These events gather crowds of people who may otherwise be too busy or dismissive of their healthcare needs.
The organization’s headquarters are in the Kisumu Hospice Plaza, located within Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital. Joanna’s House is in Ngumo Estate, Nairobi, and our rural outreaches are in Nyakach and Kanyamkago.
AIC Ngwono School is located in Nyakach.