Written by Keerti Kalluru & Hannah Bain. Contributions by Nicholas Okumu.
On September 23, our Tabitha Maternity Home marks its second anniversary, celebrating two years of providing affordable, high-quality care to mothers and children in Kibera. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the maternity home has delivered over 1,000 babies since opening in 2019 and now averages 60 deliveries per month. To date, the facility has recorded zero maternal deaths, an achievement in Kenya where the maternal mortality rate is 342/100,000 per year.
In addition to providing safe delivery services, the maternity home also offers timely antenatal care and critical post-natal care with skilled healthcare personnel, access to vaccinations, and health education sessions on preparing for childbirth, breastfeeding, and more.
A testament to its exceptional level of care, Tabitha Maternity Home has begun attracting patients from across Nairobi, with many women choosing to travel to our facility in Kibera for care.
Named after our co-founder, the late Tabitha Festo, our maternity home honors Tabitha’s lifelong commitment to improving maternal and child health. In memory of Tabitha – who would have celebrated her 59th birthday on September 24 – we are raising funds to build a lab at Tabitha Maternity Home. The more services we can offer in one location, the more women and children we can reach with critical care every year.
Marking One Year of Ambulance Operations
This time last year, CFK also introduced its first-ever ambulance. One of the few operating in Kibera, CFK’s ambulance provides emergency transportation to community members. A majority of the ambulance transports are OB-GYN–related emergencies such as pregnancy or delivery complications, and our maternity home staff work closely with our ambulance crew to ensure the patient needs are addressed.
Meet Nicholas, CFK’s Ambulance Operator
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Nicholas, our ambulance operator, and ask about his experiences during his first year on the job.
Before working for CFK, Nicholas worked as a driver, which was where he learned how to skillfully operate an ambulance across challenging terrain such as the narrow and bumpy roads throughout Kibera. After driving ambulances and experiencing emergencies first-hand, Nicholas decided to gain additional skills by studying paramedicine.
“I did paramedicine so that I don’t just sit and watch when a patient needs help,” Nicholas said. “Now, I know what to do to help, and I can work very quickly to ensure the patient has the best outcome. That’s why I wanted to do both patient care and ambulance driving.”
While Nicholas explained that each day on the job can be very different, a typical day is always busy.
“Some cases may be less of an emergency, but then you may have one where a patient only has 15 minutes to survive and needs full resuscitation, which can be very exhausting,” Nicholas said.
Due to the unpredictable and critical nature of his work, Nicholas goes through a checklist every morning at the start of his shift and after each call he makes. He cleans the ambulance, mentally prepares for the various medical emergency calls he may get in a day, and makes sure that the ambulance has the equipment and medications needed.
Since beginning its operations just under one year ago, our ambulance has provided emergency transportation to over 100 patients. Depending on patient needs, Nicholas either transports them directly to CFK for services or takes them to larger hospitals, like Kenyatta National Hospital, in Nairobi for more extensive procedures.
Although it is a challenging and sometimes exhausting job, Nicholas expressed that he finds fulfillment in his work every day.
“I really enjoy having a positive outcome for each and every patient,” he said. “People will come back to the facility and thank and appreciate you for saving the life of their loved ones, and that is something very powerful.”
As a paramedic, Nicholas is also a role model for his two young children.
“My kids think it is very interesting that I drive an ambulance, but I want them to aim even higher and become doctors or something in the medical field,” Nicholas said. “I want them to be better than me.”
When asked about his favorite part of working with CFK, Nicholas mentioned the positive team dynamics between all the health care providers.
“At the end of the day, we all hope for better outcomes for everyone,” Nicholas said. “We want all the problems in Kenya to be taken in a serious way. The team dynamics – from the director to the nurses to the volunteers – keep us going.”