Friday, December 9, 2011


Post by Dr. Chris Lewis, Founder of Village Life Outreach Project-(Twitter @doclewis1)
In 2007, shortly after announcing his presidential campaign, Barack Obama visited Cincinnati. Village Life founder Dr. Chris Lewis (thanks to connections with Obama's law school classmate Jan Michelle Lemon Kearney and University of Cincinnati Board of Trustee member Robert Richardson), was able to meet briefly with Mr. Obama and share about Village Life's work with the Luo people in Tanzania, the same tribe as Obama's Kenyan father. Mr. Obama provided words of encouragement, a photo op, and was gracious enough to sign several books, one of which contained an inspiring message to Mr. Josiah and Dr. Esther Kawira, founders of Village Life's partner organization in Tanzania, the Shirati Health, Education, and Development Foundation (SHED).
The book has been described by the Kawiras as one of their most prized possessions, and the photograph of Dr. Lewis and Mr. Obama has been seen and shared throughout Kenya and Tanzania. Stop in a gas station along the Narok Road by the Great Rift Valley (the journey described by Obama in Dreams From My Father) and you might just find a copy of that photo hanging in the shop window. The shop owner will tell you that Dr. Lewis is his cousin and is friends with President Obama, and will encourage you to buy his copy of the "Jambo Bwana CD" while filling up. Take the story with a grain of salt, but get the CD, and the delicious samosas!
Shortly after that meeting with Obama, Village Life began discussing plans to build Roche Health Center. The photograph of Dr. Lewis with Mr. Obama helped inspire an entire village of 5,000 people to mobilize and partner with Village Life and SHED to build the first-ever health care facility in Roche Village. Knowing that Obama had discussed THEIR village with Dr. Lewis gave the people of Roche HOPE. Hope that their children would live. Hope that their women would have a safe place to deliver babies. Hope that their sick could be healed, that their children could be vaccinated, that their community would live and thrive.
The hope inspired by Obama helped the Roche people take the training provided by Village Life and build their health center. Roche Health Center opened 4/1/11 and now provides access to healthcare for over 20,000 people. That is what hope looks like.

Students and faculty from the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, the Clinton School of Public Service, and other U.S. institutions of higher learning have been involved in transforming Roche Health Center from a set of drawings to a life-saving facility. Join the Village Life team. Support Roche Health Center, and keep turning hope into reality.
For more information about Village Life, please visit:
or on twitter at @VillageLifeOP