Dynamic Diana creates a very healthy space for the gospel in Nairobi

By Tim Allan | Kenya in East Africa

Diana Ayabei (left and above left). Her team-mates above are lab technician Joash Nyakundi, receptionist Winter Ochieng and nurse Daisy Chemjor.

When Diana Ayabei turns up for work in the Kenyan capital Nairobi she must be ready for just about anything. A qualified clinician, specialising in epidemiology, she now owns and runs the Space Clinic in the informal settlement of Mutego just south of the city.

It is here that God has led her, to a poor community in which people have little access to physical or mental health care. Diana, married with four children, explained: “I come from a very poor background so I know what these people are going through. My heart aches for them and I long to help them. “When they are sick, they know they can come to the clinic and that we will listen to them. We don’t just give them medicine, but we give them counselling and we tell them about Jesus.”

The small clinic, with just a few rooms and five staff, runs on a shoestring and relies almost entirely on payments from patients. Some of them can afford to pay, others cannot, but all are treated with equal care and dignity.

Diana and her staff treat 500 patients a month, dealing with every condition you can imagine, from diarrhoea to diabetes, from teenage pregnancies to hypertension, from goitre to malaria. The name of the clinic was chosen by Diana because she wanted it to fill the space that exists in many of these informal settlements; the space between the daily trials of life and the help people need so desperately. It started in 2015 and has twice been forced to move, but Diana, who seems to have limitless energy, sees God’s hand in all of that.

She said: “When we started we had just one chair – not even a table. I was given 700 shillings (about US$5) and the first thing we bought was a table so we could sit and talk with patients more easily. It was God’s plan to bring us to Mutego and I am so grateful that he allows us to serve this community day by day.” One key investment Diana made was in an affordable IT system, provided by Banda Health, which started as a ministry of SIM. It allows Diana to keep patient records, the clinic’s stock of medicines, and income and expenditure. She said: “It’s been a huge blessing to us because resources are very tight and we need to make the best use of them we can.

We can access each patient’s record at the touch of button and keep track of which drugs we need to buy and which ones are running low. It is very affordable and saves us a lot of time and money.”

The clinic is very much on the front line of caring for the local community in all its needs. Diana often finds herself visiting the homes of current and former patients and praying with them, as well as offering counselling. For the more challenging cases, she calls on a local pastor who is a trained counsellor.

That holistic care will soon extend to making patients aware of the dangers of human trafficking, thanks to a fledgling partnership with SIM ministry, For Freedom. Karine Woldhuis, joint leader of For Freedom, visited the clinic last month to explore possibilities. The informal settlements are centres of trafficking, with impoverished people being promised money and jobs overseas by unscrupulous ‘agents’. Very often, those trafficked end up in desperate situations, effectively enslaved in another country and with no access to help. Diana said: “We know many of our people are at risk, because they do not have money. By working with For Freedom, we hope we will be able to talk to our patients about what is happening and make them aware.

“We see ourselves as being more than just a healthcare clinic. We want to help in any way we can and very often our patients need psycho-social care as much as they need healthcare.” Diana’s dream is to see the clinic become a fully-fledged hospital, with all the departments and specialties but she recognises she must wait on God’s timing for that. She will keep praying for that and for her patients, thanking God for the opportunities and heart he has given her.

Prayer requests:

  •  For Diana and her staff to have the physical and emotional strength to handle the demanding workload.
  • That God provides for the financial needs of the clinic, allowing them to continue offering care and medicine.

SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

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SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

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