Kevin Cahalan

CITY: Ortum
FOCUS: Healthcare
PROJECT: Financial Consultant to the Ortum Mission Hospital
PROJECT GOAL: Help the Ortum Mission Hospital become more financially stable, so it can continue its ministry to the Pokot people in the region.

Kevin came to MKLM with his wife Christina from Kenner, LA. Kevin has spent much of his life overseas. After graduating from St. John’s University in Jamaica, NY, he joined the Peace Corps and went to India where he raised pigs and ran a poultry feed co-op. He spent two years with the Marines in Vietnam and Cuba. In the ‘70s he was a program director for Catholic Relief Services in Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru. He met and married Christina in Honduras, and their four children were born overseas. Back in the U.S., Kevin was a counselor and fundraiser for Odyssey House, a drug rehab center, before becoming a letter carrier for the US Postal Service for 25 years. He was also very involved in his parish.

Currently Kevin and his wife live and work at the Ortum Mission Hospital in the Diocese of Kitale, Kenya. Ortum is very remote, and the hospital serves the Pokot people in the area. The local bishop of the area requested that Kevin assume the position of Financial Consultant to the hospital, and Kevin has served in that role since late 2005.

The Ortum Mission Hospital was established by Holy Rosary Sisters fifty years ago. It faces numerous challenges, including water shortages, limited electricity, and consistent difficulty to fund its services. The Pokot community lives in extreme poverty, making it almost impossible for them to pay for the services they receive. As a result the hospital continues to depend on international funding.
Part of Kevin’s role is to help the hospital cut its costs. An integral part of Kevin’s work is helping to coordinate getting as many people as possible to participate in the National Health Insurance Fund. This service is offered at a very low price. Currently many farmers and their families put off going to the hospital until they are very sick, because they fear what the cost will be. This practice results in people being so sick by the time they finally arrive at the hospital that a longer stay and more costly care is required. The insurance acts as an assurance that costs will be low and hopefully provides an incentive for people to come for treatment earlier rather than later.

Kevin’s organizational skills, combined with his pastoral talents contribute to his being a welcome addition to the hospital staff.