Sunday, April 15, 2007


LALMBA is a Colorado-based non-profit that likes to refer to itself as the world's smallest relief agency. My wife first came across the organization at a career fair for University of Colorado pediatric residents a year or so ago. I came across the organization independently while browsing Charity Navigator earlier today. Charity Navigator gives Lalmba its highest 4-star rating for financial efficiency and capacity to carry out its mission.

Lalmba, which means "a place of hope," was founded in 1963 by Hugh and Marty Downey, who are volunteers, just as all of their physicians are. According to their web site, Lalmba has treated nearly two million patients in [their] hospitals and medical clinics, and [they] presently care for hundreds of orphan children.

Lalmba's mission statement: Lalmba provides medical, educational and relief services to the people of Africa through self-help programs focused on teaching and training the people we serve to care for their own needs as much as possible, and providing them resources not usually available in Africa. We have a special love for orphan children whom we see, not as a burden, but as part of a brilliant future for Africa.

Lalmba has both medical and non-medical programs (i.e., schools and orphanages) in Eritrea, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Although rated a 4-Star charity by Charity Navigator, I question the sustainability of their operation, which is described as a mom and pop shop by Hugh and Marty. Their hope is that within the next 5 to 10 years, a person or couple will step in as a replacement. If such a replacement is not found, they may spin off their assets and programs to local organizations in each of their locations.


Jared said...

Are you saying you and Danna found what you're going to do after she finishes residency next year?

Kenn Odida said...

"I am beginning to think that the only way to be happy is to find something outside ourselves worth caring about and to work for's about using your unhappiness to help you see other peoples' pain."