Before she became Kiambu County First Lady, Susan Ndung’u was moved by the plight of the sick in the area. She established Mark of Life Foundation to tackle healthcare, education and nutrition
What is Mark of Life Foundation all about?
This is an initiative, which has been running for four months. Its aim is to elevate the living standards of the residents of Kiambu County. The foundation seeks to tackle issues such as school dropouts, lack of sanitary towels, jigger infestation, drug abuse, orphaned children and poor health conditions in slums in Kiambu county. The idea was borne after running a successful healthcare initiative, which we used to offer free medical screening. The foundation stands on three pillars namely healthcare, education and nutrition.
How do you hope to achieve the goals of the organisation?
The foundation utilises the power of education to develop human potential. We will be offering young people from the under-privileged backgrounds and education that will encourage their independence and enhance their ability to contribute to their communities. For health, the foundation will adopt a preventive approach through regular free medical camps where residents will be getting screening services. During the medical camps nutrition guidelines and supplements will also be provided to pregnant women, nursing mothers and individuals suffering from acute illnesses. We will be working closely with the county government of Kiambu, the Ministry of Health and the Beyond Zero initiative.
What motivated you to start the foundation?
As I had said earlier, I was organising medical camps in the past and this is when I realised that there is a huge number of people who are suffering from lifestyle and non-communicable diseases. Even after knowing their fate after screening they could not afford to go to hospital for treatment. I remember encountering a young girl who was diagnosed with breast cancer and after talking to her she told me that even though she knows her fate, there is nothing she could do about it because the cost of treatment was expensive. Since that encounter I decided to do something that will be leave a mark in every person who passes through my hands. I couldn’t do that alone, so, I started the foundation where friends and well-wishers could contribute.
How many people have benefited so far?
Many people have benefited from our screening programme and we have helped 23 cancer patients who need immediate attention. We are working together with the county and friends to ensure that all of them are treated before it is too late. My message to people is that there are a myriad of issues to be addressed in the county and two hands alone cannot deliver on the desired outcomes for a healthier, stronger and empowered Kiambu county.
This number is quite alarming. What are some of the challenges you are facing as you try to help them?
Financial constraints is the biggest challenge. Sometimes I even end up using my personal funds. We are urging other Kenyans to come and partner with us. Apart from that we also face transportation challenges because we don’t have our own vehicles. We have toured six sub-counties out of 12 and we have realised that non-communicable diseases are a major problem within the county as many people do not know how to get help or even get treatment because of financial constraints.