This Valentine’s day, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Nairobi office showed love a little differently.
Staff members took part in launching Kenya’s first Mobile Blood Unit, which aims to increase the availability of safe blood in Kenya and save countless lives. Blood donation is a challenge for Kenya: the country currently collects only about half of the 400,000 units of blood it needs every year.
The situation came into sharp focus following the Al-Shabaab-led terror attack at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall last September, which led to an outpouring of support from citizens and residents who offered cash, in-kind donations and humanitarian support—and the ultimate gift of blood donation. Winding queues of people—more, it turned out, than there was equipment to accommodate—stood for hours waiting to donate.
It was then that The Rockefeller Foundation decided to partner with Kenya’s Bloodlink Foundation to purchase the Mobile Blood Unit. Bloodlink had already been advocating countrywide for blood donations and education, and carrying out donation drives.
U.S. Ambassador to Kenya H. E Robert Godec and Kenya’s First Lady H.E. Margaret Kenyatta, were also on hand for the launch, as well as several staff members from the Centers for Disease Control.
“The support that we have provided helps build a system that embodies resilience, one of two goals that guide our mission of improving the lives of people everywhere,” he said. “This is our modest contribution to improving lives, as well as the system that these lives depend on.”