People Daily

Why I built Kenya’s first public hospital for kids

Tells us about the Shoe4Africa project.

S4A was started as a project in 1995 basically to help athletes with shoes and to stop hookworm. The project soon started providing shoes to women as an empowerment programme. The concept was if you ran or walked for five kilometres you got shoes as a reward. We also provided shoes to school kids to encourage participation. Construction of a school and a hospital came later.

How many people have benefited from the shoes project?

Thousands upon thousands! However the shoes project is not the major part of shoes for Africa project.

Why did you decide to build the Sh600 million Eldoret Hospital, the first public hospital for kids?

In Kenya there has only been a private option; Gertrude’s hospital that is simply unaffordable for the vast majority of the Kenyan population. I am a ‘product’ of public health back in the United Kingdom, so I simply wanted to “pass the gift”.

Who are some of your partners in the project?

The Shoe4Africa Children’s hospital is the only public children’s hospital in the whole of East and Central Africa. It was a gift our foundation gave to the Kenyan government early this month. It was built with private donations.

Toby Tanser easily fits the bill of a compulsive giver
Toby Tanser easily fits the bill of a compulsive giver

It is today operational. Currently there is only one other public children’s hospital in Sub-Saharan Africa, down in South Africa.

The Nelson Mandela foundation is building one that plans to open in 2016 to celebrate Mandela’s legacy.

Are all your projects based in Kenya, especially in Eldoret or are they spread out across the continent?

We have done projects as far as the Ukraine to Sri Lanka, Harlem in New York, to South America. However, most of the projects are based within a 50-mile radius of Eldoret purely because of the small size of our team (one full time staff member) and thus we cannot be everywhere.

Our biggest ever women’s race, where we gave out out 12,500 pairs of shoes was in Kibera, Nairobi.

How do you fund raise for your projects, especially the mega ones like the hospital project?

I am a beggar – just begging for money and support!

Tells us a little bit about yourself. Where you come from, what motivates or inspires you, your family, have you settled in Kenya, your sporting activities?

I hope to settle in Kenya in the future. I am married to a Kenyan, Jelimo Tanser. My father has British heritage and my mother has Icelandic heritage.

In the world we are all helped, thus I want to do my part– help and be helped. I love my job as a ‘helper’ and all the sacrifices I have made are totally worth it; I don’t think I will regret going into the charity world!

Where do you see your organisation in five years?

All my work depends on my ability to beg further. Right now I am looking at some new projects. One of which is a Pediatric Oncology hospital inside Eldoret and of course it will be a public hospital.

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