THE ROCCO DISPENSARY
Oria’s father, Mario Rocco, donated buildings and a piece of land in 1976 to be used as a medical centre for the farm staff who worked all around the north side of Lake Naivasha. Nurses were recruited, medicine cabinets stocked, and soon word spread about the new services available. Oria later added a family planning clinic with mother and child care, which has changed the lives of many families in the area.
At the start of the flower-farming era in Naivasha in the mid 1980s, migrant workers flocked to the area from every part of Kenya. With a breakdown of traditional tribal culture and family structure, many women were having one baby after another, fathered by different men, and were struggling desperately to keep their single-parent households clothed and fed. The opportunity to liberate women from the tyranny of reproduction spurred Oria on to fundraise and open a family planning clinic at the Rocco Dispensary. At first it had to be kept strictly secret, as some of the patriarchs in married families disapproved, but as the advantages of having smaller families became apparent it wasn’t long before husbands were bringing their wives to join the programme. On the back of this, as the global AIDS epidemic started to take root, Oria was able to introduce HIV counseling and testing.
Today, the Rocco Dispensary is a privately managed entity that is open seven days a week, treating as many as 2,000 people per week, including emergencies. Many of the farms nearby pay for their staff to receive medical treatment there, and it also earns some support from the Government to cover some costs and supplies. Guests of Olerai are very welcome to pop in and see how it is running, and donations are always appreciated. Just ask us to arrange a visit for you. And if you’re feeling ill, at least you know there’s a reliable place to receive medical assistance right on your doorstep.
Education is the primary tool for improving the standard of living in poor communities, and as Africa develops and the traditional ways of life become obsolete, there is an increasing need for training, literacy and further education.
At Olerai, we’ve been educating the brightest and neediest children in the nearby community for decades. Many of our students have also been employed by us after leaving school, and gone on to do further apprenticeships or training that has built up their skill sets. We are delighted that so many of them have excelled. Two examples are our chief accountant, Wainaina Kimani, at Save the Elephants, who is the backbone of the charity, and Carolyne Njeri, from the local village, Kasarani, who won a scholarship to attend the Cecily Macdonald School of Nursing in Nairobi. She’s now in her final year, and after gaining lots of work experience she wants to find ways to improve the health of her community.
In 2001, when our tourism business expanded into Samburu, we started the Elephant Watch Scholarship Fund that has become an integral part of the Save the Elephants education programme. While the focus of the fund is primarily on the nomadic children that live in villages bordering Samburu or Buffalo Springs reserves, we haven’t forgotten the children of Naivasha, and continue to raise funds for scholarships across the board.
Over the years, many of our guests have been inspired to sponsor a child’s education or donate to the clinic, so if you are interested in getting involved or helping a deserving student from the North Lake community, please let us know. You can donate funds directly to the Elephant Watch Scholarship Fund that we will earmark especially for them. Thank you!
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT US
Africa is changing fast and much work needs to be done to uplift the rural people of the Naivasha community. Our main focus has been on health and education through the Rocco Clinic and our scholarship fund, but over the years we’ve also been involved in re-building and maintaining the road to provide access to the rural area, fighting against pollution and use of illegal chemicals on flower farms, rescuing and housing refugees during the 2008 election violence, maintaining security and peace, and protecting the riparian land of the lake shore. Your support can help us with these activities.
We raise money for scholarships for children from the North Lake community through the Elephant Watch Scholarship Fund, and focus on particularly bright or needy students that have potential. Guests at Olerai have contributed significantly to the Rocco clinic in the past, providing funds to open the first family-planning programme, build an extension for mother-child healthcare and triage, start the HIV counseling and testing outreach, and open a laboratory. If you are interested in getting involved or would like to donate, please get in touch with us through our form below.