Woman raising funds for African maternity clinic

Liz Kearney
A Gardiner-Kenya connection will celebrate successes and hold a fundraiser for future projects.  
Danielle Kellem, who grew up in Gardiner, founded a nonprofit, called Teaching More, to assist small communities in Kenya. 
She’ll hold an informational fundraising event at Chadz coffee bar in Livingston Friday evening. 
Kellem said she got involved with the project through her love of travel. 
“In 2009, I got a one-way ticket and found a couple of projects that needed to be done,” she said recently.
One of the projects was helping build a community garden in a small village in western Kenya on Rusinga Island in the rural community of Kaswanga, where local people could grow their own food. Her parents, longtime Gardiner residents Les and Carol Kellem, chipped in financially to help the village purchase fencing and other supplies. The project is still going strong — more than 80 families now grow their own food year-round.
The village also built a fish farm. Currently the farm  harvests fish —  catfish, also called “mud fish.”  Proceeds from the sale of fish cover the day-to-day operations, and are sold commercially, which raises enough money to pay a salary to its one employee,  Kellem said. Plans are in place to build a new caged fish farm to raise tilapia. Funds raised from the new fish farm would provide funds to continue building fencing on the farm and build greenhouses. 
Kellem is also raising funds to open a maternity clinic on the eastern side of Kenya in the town of Malindi. There is an understaffed, undersupplied public hospital in the town that is too expensive for many women to afford, and the public hospitals have been closed since June 5 due to strikes, Kellem explained in an email. 
Startup costs for the clinic are about $22,000. Kellem has been working with a  local team of health care professionals, and she has helped arrange teaching women to be traditional birth attendants. 
“I will be heading back to Kenya Nov. 2  to work on our training of traditional birth attendants,” Kellem said in an email,” and bringing many suitcases of medical and birth supplies for the women in the villages we serve there.”
Kellem will hold a fundraiser for the maternity clinic from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, at Chadz in Livingston, at 104 N. Main St., with live music by Denny Earnest from 6 to 7 and a presentation at 7 p.m. 
While attendees enjoy complimentary wine and appetizers, Kellem will make a presentation on Teaching More’s work, and a selection of local and African art will be available for purchase, including jewelry and batik fabric.  
Kellem will host the program again on Oct. 5, also from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Yellowstone Grill restaurant in Gardiner.  
There’s more information online at www.teachingmore.org or Kellem may be reached at 223-0043. 
Liz Kearney may be reached at lkearney@livent.net.