Food, or Medicine?

As we (the Carriers) have become at home in our village and slowly built relationships within our community, we’ve been better able to discern just exactly what the needs are and what direction the ministry here should take. Of course, Marc’s work focuses on teaching and training, and we have a fellowship that meets in our home. Beyond that, though, we have found that here in the villages, life can be hard and the needs can be great.

The average wage for those lucky enough to find work is approximately 300 KSH per day (about $4).  Tea is breakfast, sometimes there is no lunch, and ugali and greens (home grown on the shamba) are all that is available for supper. In this season (Kenyan Winter, which brings much rain), firewood is hard to get and expensive, which adds to the cost of daily bread. Though most families make it, when illness strikes, often a decision has to be made: food or medicine?

Case in point: just yesterday, a Mama came to our door carrying a baby on her back. She knew no English and my Swahili is still limited (I can make small talk, but understanding medical terminology is still beyond my grasp) so I was glad that my neighbor was here to assist us in conversation. The woman is a member of a local church (the pastor of which is another neighbor), and she was apparently recently widowed, with seven children at home. The baby she carried had put her hand in a pot of boiling water and had a severe burn. I assumed that the burn had just happened, and was surprised that the baby wasn’t crying. As it turns out, the incident had happened on Saturday morning. The Mama had done her best to cool the burn with water, and washed it with soap, but she became increasingly concerned and by Tuesday morning felt that her only option was to go see the wazungu and ask for help. When I saw the baby, there was no skin on her hand and there was beginning evidence of infection. Knowing that she needed more help than I could give, we organized to bring her to a local cottage hospital for treatment.

The wound was dressed and liquid antibiotics were dispensed, all for about $6 USD ($7, if you count transport). Since Sam, who assisted her at the hospital, owns a small produce shop, she hesitatingly asked if we would be able to help her with about 100 KSH worth of fruit (about four small mangoes, which were her choice). Of course, that was no problem.

And so we regularly see here the need for medical assistance, since daily bread often uses up a family’s meager resources. When an emergency arises, they have no “savings,” and nothing to fall back on. Those who know us, or know of us, come and ask for assistance, often as a last resort. Although some of the funds come from us, Kingdom Driven Ministries has been able to offer an increasing amount of financial assistance as well. It comes from YOU–people who faithfully give to KDM, so that we can not only minister the Gospel of the Kingdom but also serve “the least of these” in our community. For us, a few US dollars doesn’t seem like much–but (in the case of malaria medicine) it can mean the difference between life and death. It can buy not only healing for a child but a mother’s peace.

Our village is small, and word is getting around. The number of visitors seeking medical assistance is daily increasing. Today, we coordinated with our local chemist to dispense malaria medicine to a pregnant Mama and gave cough medicine to two other families (since it’s Winter, and cold season, here). We sent a sick baby to the clinic with Silas and gave an older woman with arthritis some ibuprofen (if that doesn’t help, we’ll have to bring her to the clinic). Marc also went to Kitale to take another elderly woman to the hospital. That might be the most we’ve done in one day, but it could be a new trend. Each individual need is comparatively inexpensive, but our total today (including transport costs) was about $20.

I can’t imagine being forced to neglect quality care for my child because I had to choose between that and feeding that child and her siblings. Any parent knows the angst that would cause. In the end, the woman who came yesterday thanked me profusely, and twice asked God to bless me. But I asked God if he would bless you instead, those whose giving has made blessing possible. Though you don’t see what goes on here each day “on the ground,” please know that your generosity is making a difference in the lives of many. If you feel led to give so that we can continue to meet these needs, you can make a donation in any amount to the KDM general fund at If you would like, you can add a note at checkout to earmark the funds for medical assistance.


2 Replies to “Food, or Medicine?”

    • We have a great relationship with our local chemist and she always works with us to determine what suits each situation. Currently there are several treatment options available for malaria that we’ve used in different situations.