Doctor Kazuko Kumon is a Japanese paediatrician who works to provide support for disabled Kenyan children and their families in Nairobi.
Kimono founded The Garden of Siloam on the outskirts of Nairobi, where disabled children receive a range of support, from high-quality education to personalized health care.
The 47-year-old Christian says she was motivated to set up the facility following a visit to Sierra Leone in 2001, where she witnessed children dying daily during the brutal civil war.
She moved to Kenya to work at a clinic in 2002 after working at a hospital in Cambodia.
While in the East African country, she began to consider what she could do to help children with disabilities, as she found disabled people in Kenya struggled to receive sufficient support amid persistent prejudice and discrimination.
She also found that many poor children with disabilities in Kenya are also left without proper medical care and education.
“I thought that focusing my mind on the life of each child would lead to saving many lives.” – Kazuko Kumon
After being involved in various activities to promote health in Kenya over a 12 year period, in August 2014, she presented her plan to Koinonia Ministries, a church organization in Kenya. Two months later, the Operational Committee of Koinonia Ministries gave her an approval to start the programme as a part of their ministries.
In January 2015, the office was opened in Ndenderu, Kiambu County and welcomed their first child (Samuel) the following month, which began their programme, which included occupational/speech therapy, medical review and treatment.
Managing The Garden of Siloam is not without its challenges though as the facitility mainly relies on donations from Japan and she has found it difficult to find qualified staff.
Despite the problems she has encountered, her facility has accepted nearly 30 children so far.
“I can see the children and their families look happier after spending a short period of time” – Kazuko Kumon
With Kenya’s ongoing economic growth over recent years, Kumon believes that “it’s important to create a society in which the disabled and others can coexist.”