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Nonprofit of the Week: Lalmba, Providing Health Care in the Poorest Areas of East Africa



Lalmba is a non-profit headquartered in Colorado that works in Ethiopia and Kenya. Founded in 1963 by Hugh and Marty Downey, Lalmba works in poor and remote locations, with a focus on medical and preventative health care.

In rural East Africa, access to healthcare is severely limited, and for many families physically and financially impossible to obtain. Lalmba has built health centers that have treated over 2 million individuals over the last fifty years.

But treatment is only one aspect of their community-based work. Lalmba employs and trains health workers and nurses. They teach concepts in public health and preventative care, and run two orphanages for parentless children. They offer microfinance loans to invest in the community through economic advancement.


Andrew and Faith Hoskins managed the Health Center and Children’s Home in Ethiopia for four years, raising their two children in the small town of Chiri.  On his work in Ethiopia, Andrew said:


“It was a unique opportunity to live and work among the poor.  We were on the ground, at the grass roots level, seeing people's faces.  I was not confined to an office or fundraising.  I really had the best job one could imagine.”

By remaining small, and working with the local community and government, Lalmba keeps overhead costs extremely low, at roughly 11% of budget expenditures. This allows Lalmba to focus on the most important work, the work itself.


Why is this so important? For donors looking to support worthy causes, it means that a donated dollar is spent on the people who need it most. A donated dollar goes towards a vaccination for tetanus or for life-saving malaria care. It reaches an Ethiopian man who travelled three days by foot for emergency medical care. It goes to saving the life of a Kenyan mother during a difficult labor.


In an era of smart phones and social media, Lalmba truly connects with the people they serve, Hoskins said adding, “It is too easy to get caught up in money and paper work. Lalmba has their priorities right.”


Where some organizations can point to the number of schools they have built, money raised or people affected, Lalmba can name each person they have helped. Such is the case for Abinet, an orphan raised by Lalmba. She graduated at the top of her class, got a scholarship to study midwifery and nursing at a top University, and will return to work at Chiri upon the completion of her degree.

Lalmba is an organization that won’t get the awareness it deserves, but does some of the the hardest aid work there is: providing healthcare and a home to those who need it the most.

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About Nonprofit of the Week

Today’s news media often appears to be an uninterrupted cycle of ever depressing events, from violence and tragic deaths to accidents and war. At Goodspeaks, we are trying to focus on the good, showcasing the agents for positive change in the world.


We believe, as Martin Luther King Jr. believed in an arc of morality that bends towards justice. We’ve seen and heard of organizations doing work on behalf of the oppressed, the hungry, the disenfranchised and the poor. However, it is our experience that some of the organizations we never hear from are doing some of the best work.

In an age where development and humanitarian work is done on a large scale by large organizations, it seems that the most effective and efficient non-profits are the smallest ones. They are less likely to have million dollar grants or giant administrative budgets. They fight for the work they are doing, and are doing it for all of the right reasons. They are often times so busy helping others, that they don’t have time to tell their story. Each week, we will help tell it for them.