Lighthouse of Ethiopia has raised a little over $20,000 in charitable donations since it’s inception in 2019. This money has been used in various ways to support medical mission work of the LHEM NGO Clinic, including : to lease building space near Addis Ababa for LHEM to open a healthcare center in the region of Addisu Gebeya, and later in Kechene. To help purchase a portable ultrasound machine, laboratory equipment (including a microscope, refrigerator, syringes, medication, an oxygen concentrator, blood pressure monitor.) To buy a trash incinerator, water tank, office furniture, a computer printer, waiting room chairs, cleaning supplies, etc. It was also used in part, to help cover monthly salary costs for LHEM clinical staff, and to pay local business taxes and licensing / permit fees.
The first mission project our organization supported through LHEM in 2021, involved sending a medical team to assist a group of approximately 20 street children. These boys and girls were destitute, living unhoused on the streets around Addis Ababa. Some were orphans, and others runaways -- struggling with an addiction to sniffing benzene (found in glue) to get high. We had LHEM medical staff provide free health-check ups to these youth. They also offered an educational training session to these children on the many negative health risks and side effects benzene has on their still developing body and brain. This medical care was provided to assist a charity organization, called Be There Ministries, who provides group housing to rescue at risk youth from the streets.
In August 2022, LHEM partnered in a medical mission with an international charity organization, called the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Medical Association (EOTMA). Together, we provided free healthcare services to over 200 men, women and children from underserved communities near Kechene. These people suffered from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, glaucoma, asthma, and many other medical conditions.
In March 2023, LHEM hosted it’s own free medical campaign at their clinic in the Kechene community. Over 150 impoverished patients were seen and treated, including pregnant women, elderly patients and children. Medications were distributed to some patients, as well — all at no cost to the recipients.
Over the past two years, the LHEM health clinic has treated and medically served over 1,000 patients. Lighthouse of Ethiopia also donated medical supplies and materials to a local Geriatric Center (such as gloves and sanitizers) to help prevent the spread of Covid.
Most recently, LHEM received a generous donation of a CBC machine in Ethiopia. This valuable piece of diagnostic medical equipment was desperately needed by their clinic, in order to test a patient’s blood, allowing doctors to know more about their blood cell counts, health and course of required treatment. The LHEM Clinic is still in need of a portable X-Ray machine, which costs in the range of $15,000-$25,000 -- as this will allow their physicians to better diagnose and assist patients in potential need of emergency care.
On average it takes between $2,500 -$2,800 per month to pay for overhead and operating costs at the medium sized LHEM Clinic. The cost of renting a building for the clinic is the greatest of all expenses, apart from any purchase costs associated with procuring new, large scale medical equipment. Thankfully, LHEM already has obtained a majority of the crucial medical equipment and supplies needed to operate and function independently as a licensed NGO clinic, which was a major goal achievement in their early stages of development. Annually, their monthly expense and operating budget equates to between $30,000 - $33,600, and includes: building rent, staff salaries (including janitor and security guard), upkeep of necessary local business taxes, medical supplies, maintenance of equipment and utilities.
Although the LHEM Clinic generates income from patient healthcare and laboratory services rendered to those who are most well off in the community, and can afford to pay for their treatment care (this income goes to pay for the clinic's operating expenses and overhead costs) … it also offers completely free medical care services to patients referred by the local Ethiopian government health agency. The health agency determines those who are severely impoverished, and can not afford to pay for treatment. Each of the free medical campaigns hosted by the LHEM Clinic, include those patients who have been specifically referred to visit the LHEM NGO Clinic by their local government health agency. It takes time to grow and develop a relationship with patients, and trust in a community. The initial lack of necessary medical equipment, and not having a steady amount of paying patients and charitable giving from donors to help LHEM with procuring supplies, and covering their initial building rent and start-up costs, has been our organization’s biggest dilemma, and financial struggle to date.
Presently, we are praying for more funding, medical equipment and/or to find a building owner who will offer use of their space “rent free” for the LHEM NGO clinic to operate. This will allow their clinic to increase it’s monthly revenue, to become self sustaining at a faster pace, and will give them the ability to host more free medical campaigns to the most impoverished members of their community. Eventually, the goal of LHEM is to have all operating and overhead costs covered by those who can afford to pay for patient care. The more diagnostic medical equipment the clinic has available on site to offer treatment, the more patients will visit—allowing more income to be generated. This helps ensure the clinic’s long-term success and existence, and increases the amount of free healthcare services their NGO can provide to those most in need.
LHEM’s Board of Directors plans to start a savings account, once the first LHEM Clinic is generating enough sustainable income, beyond that which is needed for daily overhead and operating costs. All surplus income will be used to purchase new (or refurbished) medical equipment, and to replicate this same business model, eventually allowing additional medical clinics to be opened in other underserved regions.
We like to DREAM BIG, and therefore own a website domain for “Lighthouse of Africa", too. So, if God chooses to open more doors of opportunity, we hope to expand and help open healthcare clinics in other underserved parts of Africa, including Uganda and Kenya. Nothing is impossible for God! So, as long as we are dreaming big … our vision also includes having future funds to buy ambulances, and mobile health vehicles to offer health screening check-ups, dental and vision care services.
If funding were not an issue today, we would pursue options for implementing telemedicine, perhaps work on creating a low cost LHEM health insurance plan, as a way to encourage more families to receive regular check-ups for their children, and routine medical care when ill. We would establish a LHEM BUILDING FUND and seek to obtain land from the government of Ethiopia, upon which to build LHEM clinics that would require no monthly rental expense. We would especially love to build a LHEM medical facility in the highly underserved region of Mekane Eyesus, (The “Place of Jesus”), upon the same land where Dr. Zelalem Yirga (Founder of the LHEM NGO) was born. This rural part of Ethiopia presently has only one hospital available to service the medical needs of more than one million people. A portion of land in this rural community is still owned and maintained today by Dr. Yirga’s father. Mekane Eyesus is home to approximately 297,000 residents and over 62,000 households. Building a new medical clinic in this rural area would significantly serve a vast array of medical needs, including the ability to offer maternal care and a birthing center. It would alleviate overcrowding at the only available hospital in this region, too. We have looked previously into building plans, and have received an estimated total building cost of $100,000 – which includes all rough and finish material expenses, waste disposal, site work, a generator, water tank, landscaping and labor.
Lastly, our vision includes establishing a LHEM SCHOLARSHIP FUND, to help high achieving students from impoverished families, to become future medical doctors, midwives, pharmacists and nurses. As the population continues to grow, there is a significant need for more medical practitioners in Ethiopia, and within Africa as a whole.
If you are able to make a donation of any size to Lighthouse of Ethiopia, in support of work at the LHEM NGO Clinic, please know it will be well utilized and most appreciated. If you need additional information, please feel free to contact Kendall Valenzuela by email at: email@example.com, or Zelalem Yirga, MD, MPH via email or WhatsApp. +251 91 372 6877 or firstname.lastname@example.org .