KITALE, Kenya (Christian Examiner)—Freda Robinson had a good nursing job at a private hospital in the Mt. Elgon District of Kenya.
Yet every day as she drove to work, she passed people with overwhelming medical needs. She'd see the sick struggling to make it down the road to the hospital. Often she'd even see dead bodies of those who couldn't reach their destination.
Robinson and her husband, Richard, couldn't sit by and do nothing. Desperately poor people in the villages surrounding the hospital needed medical attention they couldn't find without traveling long distances.
So the couple sold off all their other land to purchase a clinic about an hour away from Kitale, the region's main city.
"It was a call, a dream. I had to do something for my people," Robinson told the Christian Examiner.
I live by faith. I work by faith. That means when we have a patient and have no medicine, we just pray for the patient. God has seen us through.
Throughout the next 21 years, Robinson would continually make sacrifices to meet the needs of her people—from opening a preschool to an orphanage to a nursing school to a girls' high school to outreach clinics that take medical care to even more remote locations.
For her service, the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing recently awarded Robinson honorary membership into the society. The honor is given "upon individuals of national or global influence who have furthered the course of health care."
After starting the clinic in 1994, Robinson's ministry grew quickly—as she and her husband rushed to meet the needs of Kenya's rural poor. Early on, as she would ask mothers to give their children a prescription "with food," she discovered many were not giving the needed medicine. They had no food to accompany it. Because of this intense need, Robinson began a feeding program—feeding children two meals a day. With the children staying at the clinic between breakfast and lunch, Robinson decided to begin a preschool for children ages 2 to 7 so the kids could learn religion, math, English and writing while they waited.
Eventually, they would expand the clinic into a 30-bed hospital, too.
"Then after some of the kids grew, we started a girls' high school," Robinson said. "Otherwise after the girls graduate primary school, the girls get pregnant and married and their life would waste away. We started with about 29 girls five years ago and now we have about 150 girls in the school."
Five years ago, Robinson began a nursing school for high school graduates. She says her nursing students have scored well on national nursing boards.
Yet Robinson notes that prayer and faith have been central to what God has done through her ministry. She often doesn't have the resources necessary to buy medicine or feed and clothe the children under her care.
"I live by faith," Robinson said. "I work by faith. That means when we have a patient and have no medicine, we just pray for the patient. God has seen us through."
As an example of the kind of people she serves, Robinson points to a boy named Moses. As a 10-day-old baby, Moses was found abandoned in a field by a man cutting the grass with a machete. She said the government asked her to take care of the boy until the mother returned for him—which she never did. Robinson says the boy, now in the fourth grade, is doing well in school. She is also caring for a second boy named Moses, whom they found on the streets. Though the boy has HIV, she says, "He is very bright and doing very, very well in school."
Volunteers play a key role in Robinson's work. Marilyn Mohr, a member of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and her husband have made frequent trips to help Robinson. Marilyn has helped Robinson with administrative work. Her husband has also served in a variety of ways, including helping to build a well.
"I don't know how we can describe all of what Sister Freda does," Mohr said. "She just loves the people. It's an amazing work."
For more information about Robinson's ministry and to give to her work, visit www.guidelines.org/kenya.