Pedriatic nurse, project owner and angel: Kathy Kempen
Kathy Kempen isn't your ordinary pediatric nurse. She's embarked on an extraordinary journey fueled by her dedication to children's health in Eritrea. We had the privilege of interviewing Kathy Kempen to learn more about her inspiring work.
The journey begins
In 2010, this Berlin native learned about the nonprofit organization ArcheMed - Doctors for Children in Need and decided to apply. Later that year, she flew to Eritrea with a team from ARCHEMED. On-site, she worked with a team of heart surgeons, contributing significantly to improving children's health in the region.
In 2015, Kathy Kempen decided to initiate her own project. It involved a small Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in a dire state - lacking water supply, plagued by pests, and heavily polluted. Teaming up with her nurse friend, Maren Grabicki, and a retired pediatrician, they took on the challenge.
Prominent support for an oasis of hope
Actress Senta Berger, who had visited Eritrea several times, became the project's ambassador. Kathy Kempen and her team applied through connections at the RTL Donation Marathon, successfully raising the required funds. In April 2023, the PICU was inaugurated, almost reaching European standards.
The pediatric intensive care unit now boasts three rooms, including an isolation room, with a total of 12 beds. Currently, due to a lack of staff, only eight critically ill children can be accommodated.
The unit has new monitoring equipment, beds, mattresses, and fresh beddings - essentials that were missing before. Long-term plans include installing an air pressure system alongside the existing oxygen supply, aiding children in breathing in the future.
The core team consists of dedicated professionals from Eritrea, supporting their own community and helping children in need.
Sonnenglas: A Beacon in Darkness
Sonnenglas illuminating the PICU in dark times
Working in Eritrea comes with its challenges, including power outages. In these moments, children, doctors, nurses, and parents can find themselves literally in the dark. Kathy Kempen recently discovered Sonnenglas through friends and immediately recognized its potential for her project. She independently ordered 20 pieces and brought them in her and her team's luggage on the flight.
"I love the warm light of the Sonnenglas, which is gentler for the children compared to hospital neon lights. Yet, they are bright enough for necessary paperwork," the pediatric nurse shares. Currently filled with grass, Kathy Kempen plans to include small toy animals or marbles in the jars to provide entertaining distractions for the children.
Thanks to abundant sunlight in Eritrea, Sonnenglas can always be charged and provide light during darkness.
A gift of hope
To support this wonderful project, Sonnenglas is donating 50 new solar lanterns and ten solar modules. It's a small gift of hope for children in Eritrea, offering them a brighter future through Kathy Kempen's dedication and the generous support of people like you.
Children, parents, nurses and doctors are able to see with Sonnenglas in daerk times
Author: Julia Akra-Laurien
Photos: Kamil Albrecht / Monsters of Media