Olmoti Clinic began with the dream of a senior Maasai midwife in a corner of northern Tanzania. Mama Yaya had labored for years, like her mother and grandmother before her, helping women to give birth. Year after year, babies were born in huts with primitive, unsanitary conditions. Yaya had seen too many preventable deaths.
In 2009, she told two visiting Americans about her dream for a medical clinic – a place for safe childbirth and health care. Yaya's plea hit Diane Raleigh like a lightning bolt. Olmoti Clinic would go from dream to reality.
The Maasai tribe donated land. A small group of Americans provided funding through a new, dedicated nonprofit foundation, Our One Community. Willy Chambulo, a Maasai-born safari company owner, oversaw logistics, beginning one of one of the clinic’s most meaningful and crucial partnerships.
In June, 2010, the 10-room, 3,000-square-foot Olmoti Clinic opened its doors, the first-ever health facility for this isolated Maasai population. The Longido District Government provided a medical officer and two nurses, a staff that would eventually grow with the clinic to three doctors and a medical staff of ten.
MEETING LONGSTANDING NEEDS
Clinic services grew from basic health care to include vital programs including HIV/AIDS testing and education, fistula information and care, outreach for Hepatitis B and other infectious diseases, and family planning and hygiene education, with a laboratory conducting testing and high level hematological analysis.
The Olmoti Eye Care Outreach draws Maasai from miles around: ophthalmology specialists provide care for trachoma, cataracts and other debilitating vision impairments.
In 2014, the Maasai selected an advisory council to assess and advocate for clinic needs, officially launching community “ownership” of its success.
By 2016, the clinic was seeing 700 patients a month. Women no longer gave birth in bomas, but safeguarded their health and the viability of their newborns by delivering in the safe confines of Olmoti Clinic.
In 2017 and 2018 came a dramatic milestone: construction of a surgery unit and patient wards to make Olmoti Clinic a full-fledged Health Center, a major designation in the country's medical system.
Olmoti Trust turned to education needs in recognition of local concerns: mothers were keeping their young children home from school simply because attendance entailed a long and dangerous walk. Olmoti Trust built a two-room school that quickly grew to include additional grades, with four classrooms added in 2018. Enrollment neared 500 in 2019. The government has registered the primary school and provides four teachers. Olmoti Trust augments supplies and books, and invests in a teacher training program to improve education quality.
Our scholarship program enables Maasai girls to escape early marriage and childbirth by attending MWEDO girls’ high school in Arusha. The community response led to establishment of another program supporting boys and girls who wish to attend government secondary schools or vocational schools.
A request from two warriors and two elders led to establishment of our Adult Education Program. Within six months, enrollment reached 80 learners as parents, enthused about their childrens’ education, sought to learn to read and write themselves.
Olmoti Trust, was formed in 2015 as a registered legal entity in Tanzania, establishing long-term sustainability for Our One Community’s projects. In addition to Dr. Raleigh, trustees include Olmoti community members and medical, NGO and business representatives.
A COMMUNITY TRANSFORMED
In just one decade the Olmoti community has been transformed as Olmoti Clinic/Our One Community directly produced:
· The region’s first ever medical clinic and surgery center, with outreach programs providing health education and care for long-untreated conditions including fistula and vision impairment.
· A fresh-water pipeline to the clinic and neighboring communities, freeing women from their all-consuming miles of walking to fetch water in large jugs.
· Olmoti’s first and only primary school.
A daily porridge breakfast for schoolchildren, the only daily meal available to most.
· A scholarship program to send Maasai girls to MWEDO secondary school in Arusha, an alternative to teen marriage and childbirth.
Similar support for boys and girls to attend government high schools.
· Construction of housing for medical staff and teachers. These structures, along with our school and medical buildings, form the nucleus of an Olmoti village center.