As I arrived at the Nairobi airport, I was waiting in line to process my entry visa and Dr. Kelvin Hill sent me a note saying that his dad Dr. Ken Hill had passed away. At that moment, I realized that I had come to Kenya more than 50 times because of Ken. I would not have known about Kendu Bay or the need for rehab without Ken’s involvement. It was during my first visit to Kenya that I was smitten by Ken’s inspiration and passion to serve. In 1990, when A Better World was founded, our first project was with Ken Hill in Kendu Bay. This would keep me coming back and interestingly this trip was specifically to work in Kendu Bay where Ken had established the rehab program for children’s surgery and physiotherapy. More than 10,000 children have received surgery for different levels of mobility since 1990.
On December 21, 2017, while at Kendu Bay, a memorial service was held at the Kendu Hospital Church where Ken lived during his visits for over 10 years. About 50 people were in attendance.
Janet, Bernard, and I spoke of the tremendous impact he had in our lives and in the lives of thousands of children.
I encouraged the audience to focus on what Ken left behind and not what we have lost. I spoke about three things that would be permanently etched in my mind about his life – most of them on my first visit.
1. His words “Money alone would not solve world’s problems; dedicated, committed people who will stick it out for the long haul is how you can make a difference.”
2. “Touch people” – Don’t be afraid of using your bare hands to touch the children who had walked miles through dusty road to see him just to have a chance to walk. “Jesus,” he said, “could have healed large crowds efficiently by pointing a stick over them. Instead, he touched everyone that came to him.”
3. “Do your deeds without any expectation” – He was a volunteer since his retirement seeking nothing in return for himself. He modeled that for me and others.
Then Janet spoke of how Ken found her in a hopeless situation, burned in a cooking fire and left to die. After about a dozen surgeries and therapy, Janet owns and operates a business.
Bernard Opiyo spoke passionately about his training under Ken. Bernard is still working with the rehab program after 23 years.
The hospital chaplain gave a sermon and the rest in the picture offered prayers.
28 years after Ken Hill started his work here, I am in the same place remembering him and reminding each of us to model his life.
ABW is grateful that Ken’s daughter Karen Leung (PT) and son Dr. Kelvin Hill (Dentist and ABW board member) are continuing their dad’s legacy.
To read about Ken’s work click here.