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Italian donation at risk for Malindi sick children

"Kenya Invisible Kids" help pediatric ward at General Hospital

08-01-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo

The pandemic around the world has shifted the health focus onto the virus and often overlooked everyday situations that create many more desperate cases and deaths.
In Africa, this is even more evident, and the most discouraging data, on which immediate action should be taken, concern childhood.
Some of the country's paediatric departments have been ousted from isolation rooms for those infected with Covid-19 and from intensive care, and hundreds of children have been sent home or treated without due care. Visits have also declined and attention has dropped alarmingly.
Fortunately, the General Hospital in Malindi has a passionate, responsible and combative paediatrician, Dr Salma Naji.
Thanks to a group of equally passionate Italian friends who have made it their life's work to save small human lives on the Kenyan coast, Dr Naji has been able to set up a complete neonatal ward and follow many serious cases in recent years, up to the incredible adventure, which she herself followed, of transporting a newborn baby girl to Naples for a very delicate heart operation that saved her life.
The Italian team that made all this possible is called "Kenya Invisible Kids", but now the risk is that they will no longer be able to help, because the pandemic has meant that there are no more donations.
This year we have collected very few donations," is the desperate plea of Massimo Vita, a businessman from Campania, who is the group's spokesman. "We have at most another couple of months of autonomy and then we will be forced to stop. There will be children that we will not be able to help and unfortunately some of them will lose their lives.
Vita has been going to Malindi for years and is personally involved with acquaintances and other lovers of Kenya.
"We are just a group of Italian friends, nothing more. We don't have a non-profit organisation, we don't have a head office and every single euro collected is used for the children," explains Vita, "All the running costs are borne exclusively by us. Although the collection of donations has increased in recent years, we still pay a lot of the necessary sums ourselves, and we have organised ourselves so that we have maximum control over every single cent dedicated to this cause.
Massimo and his friends, during their many holidays in Malindi, have experienced situations of "mal-solidarity" that are part of the mistaken "tourist" concept of solidarity.
Clothing and accessories donated and resold by those who received them, ghost orphanages where children are only gathered when the "mzungu" arrive, well-fed parents with undernourished children and beach boys with fictitious associations.
"We thought it was not possible to intervene directly to help these people,' Vita explains. 'Then we had the idea. Maybe I would call it inspiration. We got together with some paediatricians in Malindi and Nairobi, and started offering financial support to families in Watamu, Kilifi and Malindi, who needed to have their children operated on because they didn't have the possibility. Although we operate in the richest part of the country, where the tourists come, you only have to go a few dozen kilometres into the rural areas to discover real poverty. The one that none of us can really imagine because the one we see on TV and to which we are "accustomed" does not convey the smells, the smells and the smells of the people. It does not convey the smells, the silences, the loneliness and the desperation of a family suffering from the illness of a child in an isolated hut where there is no water or light.
Today, in close collaboration with the neonatology and paediatrics department of Malindi Hospital, we accompany these families throughout the painful journey that awaits them. We pay for everything, especially in terms of emotions, and we share their pain. From the hut to the operating theatre and back to the hut. We leave in despair and return as friends with a smile on our faces. Sometimes, unfortunately, you leave in despair and come back with your soul in pieces. It happens. It happens that some children don't make it. In these cases we are attacked by a deaf, deep and lasting suffering. We cry and do not sleep at night. Then, as if by magic, another positive result always arrives and gives us the strength to continue.
As Dr Naji shows to, Kenya Invisible Kids has purchased two automatic respirators for the neonatology department. There are many cases where this instrument is needed to keep alive children with severe breathing difficulties.
Massimo and his Italian friends, among whom as well as small businessmen there are also nurses, pay medical expenses and operations for many children," explains the head of the paediatrics department at Malindi Hospital, "not only here, but also in Mombasa and Nairobi. The newborn we brought in Italy was only a few weeks old".
The name Vita and his group have chosen is not accidental: invisible are not only the very serious situations that are often not brought to light and remain confined to the most remote villages in the hinterland of the coast, but also the work of those people who put their souls into it and make donations while remaining in the shadows.
We don't like to publicise our social work," explains Massimo Vita, "and we have decided not to go down institutional roads and not to mix with the many non-profit organisations that already exist. But because of this, especially in these unfortunate months when we are distracted by another emergency, aid has decreased and does not allow us to continue with the same commitment to assist and support the Malindi Hospital".
From today, we hope that the invisible children of Kenya will be a little less unknown to everyone, as well as those who work to save their lives and help their families.

TAGS: bambini kenyapediatria kenyadottoressa malindiospedale malindisolidarietà kenya

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