The Idea

In which my friend has a brainwave, ropes me in, and we launch ourselves into the charity game.

“I wonder if you’d think about an idea I’ve had?”

This was a friend’s roundabout way of inviting me to help her set up a new charity in Kenya, but Ann Egan was being so diplomatic I didn’t even realise I’d been asked. She left, feeling rebuffed.

Weeks later, she tried again and spelt it out so this time I got the message. She’d had a brainwave and needed another pair of hands to help her pull it off. This is her idea…

For the full story, click here to watch a short film  (This film was made ages ago and the cost of the insurance premiums has gone up from £15 a year to £45. We still have to correct the film.)
Thousands of Kenyan families are too poor to pay for hospital treatment, even to save their lives. If only they had £45, they could have health insurance to cover hospital bills for their whole family. But they’re totally penniless. Widows with young children are usually the worst off.

Ann is a doctor, a GP with a social conscience. Her idea is to set up a charity to help them, by finding people in the UK who’ll take out a standing order of £45 every year, and the money pays for insurance guaranteeing hospital treatment for widows and children in the LUO region of Western Kenya. It’s fantastic value and it could save the lives of the poorest people.

Other donations would cover the one-off set-up cost needed to register each family, such as paying for childrens’ birth certificates and widows’ identity cards.

Emily, a widow with her new hospital insurance card.

Emily, a widow with her new hospital insurance card.

I believe there are far too many charities in the world. If all the little charities joined forces, they might achieve much more. But a new charity can target a specific need and tightly manage the money, so that every penny goes exactly where it’s supposed to go and nowhere else.

Our charity taps into a health care system already up and running, tried and tested. It really does mean families get the medical help they need, when they need it. Believe me, when you see someone wheeled in on the back of a bicycle with a broken leg, and the bone is sticking out, and they’re sent home because they haven’t any money for treatment, it brings it home to you that health insurance is a mighty handy essential to life.

So here we are. Ann Egan, her idea and me. We hate administration and fund-raising, we’re computer dyslexics, we haven’t much spare time. Even picking a name isn’t simple. God knows how it’s going to work, but here goes.

First job – we call the charity Luo Care*, after the tribe in the area of Kenya we’re concentrating on, near Lake Victoria. Follow how we manage in the rest of this blog…

*I wish we hadn’t now, ever since someone said it sounds like a toilet cleaner.

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