Success stories drive Dr. Yusuf Mahat to continue his work providing medical care to some of the most vulnerable populations in Kenya.
“At one of our recent clinics, we had 11 patients come in who were totally blind because of a problem that could be treated with a minor surgery,” says Dr. Mahat, who organizes medical camps for poor, elderly, homeless and incarcerated people after he completes his day job. “Our clinic allowed us to identify these people, treat them, and now they can see. The fact that you can give a fellow human being something life-changing like that, it is more than words can actually explain.”
On June 10, 2023, Embrace Relief joined with Dr. Mahat, the chairman of the Light Academy Alumni Associaton, as well as other partner organizations – including the Light Academy, Omeriye Foundation, Kenya Red Cross, the Lions Club, and Kenya’s state-run National Health Insurance Fund – to fund a free medical clinic for detainees at a prison in Nakuru, Kenya.
This program supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #3, “Good Health and Well-Being.” Access to quality medical care is a human right, and it is particularly important to ensure that the most vulnerable people have access. Eliminating communicable diseases wherever they can be found will keep us all safe in the future.
“It’s extremely vital,” Dr. Mahat says. “I work at a government health facility in this town, and from time to time we will receive patients from the prison. By the time they come to us, they usually are at an advanced stage of disease, and we are unable to do anything to help. But when we are able to bring our medical camp to them, we can identify diseases earlier, we can communicate with the detainees and wardens on proper hygiene to prevent the spread of disease. And so this is an important and noble event that is going to have a large impact.”
Funding and logistical support from organizations like Embrace Relief and others like it can make an enormous difference in the lives of people in difficult circumstances around the world. The camps organized by Dr. Mahat provide treatments and diagnoses for cataracts, diabetes, cancers, and other chronic ailments. Embrace Relief is dedicated to partnering with our friends in countries like Mali, Kenya and Tanzania to help provide medical care for thousands of people who would otherwise be unable to afford or access it.
Seeing The Humanity
For Dr. Mahat, who has spent the past three years building up relationships with larger partner organizations to help organize these camps, providing care to the most vulnerable is what he considers his life’s calling.
“Diabetes and hypertension are skyrocketing in Kenya right now, as are other chronic diseases like cancers as well,” he says. “There are so many people who need help. We recently had two female patients who walked into our camp off the street. We performed cancer screenings on them, and we discovered that they both had early-stage cervical cancer. They’re now cancer-free.”
Partnerships with organizations like Embrace Relief allow these camps to happen more frequently, increasing the likelihood of a person receiving life-saving care. This support can take the form of funding for staff, equipment and medicine; of volunteers providing extra pairs of hands; and of food to help keep the camp running.
But at the heart of it all are the people. Dr. Mahat explained to Embrace Relief how organizing these medical camps has allowed him to see firsthand the true spirit of humanity in his patients, whether they are impoverished, aged, or incarcerated.
“Beyond the physical ailments we treated, it was the emotional connection we formed with the inmates that made a lasting impact for me,” Dr. Mahat said following the June 10 camp at the Nakuru prison. “We talked about their dreams, aspirations, and the regrets that led them astray. In their vulnerability, I saw their humanity, and it shattered any preconceived judgments I might have had. It was a testament to the human capacity for strength and growth, even in the most challenging circumstances.”