About Living Room

The Living Room
Living Room provides dignity and quality of life to the people in Kenya affected by HIV/AIDS and other life threatening illnesses. Living Room hospice is a 26 bed, inpatient hospice that houses adults and children living with terminal illness. Services include: management of pain and other symptoms and provision of psychological, social and spiritual support. Within this facility, there are also counseling services available to support families during the patient’s illness and bereavement and a training institute for health care workers, caregivers, and community members to be empowered with knowledge and skills in palliative care services. Currently, all of the care is free of charge. Living Room (Kimbilio) hospice was founded in 2009 and is registered as a NGO in Kenya and a 501(c)3 in the U.S.

History of Living Room

Living Room has served more than 300 guests since its opening.

Living Room’s journey began from work of Tumaini na Afya (Kiswahili for hope & health), a community-based HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program that was created in 2004 in Western Kenya with the focus on mobilizing people in rural villages for HIV testing and treatment, trainings on HIV prevention, and home-based care for people living with HIV/AIDS and orphans.

In 2008, those working with Tumaini na Afya engaged in a battle they did not initially set out to fight. What started as an isolated situation of creating a treatment center, a home of sorts, for two HIV+ orphans gave birth to the dream of Living Room and specifically, Kimbilio (Kiswahili for refuge) Hospice. Orphans Flovia and Felix were emaciated and started on a special formula and fed every two hours, day and night. Within days, they began to grow. At 2 ½ years old, Flovia learned to walk and to speak in two languages. With her playful spirit, she captured hearts. Felix was a one year old who weighed a mere nine pounds. What a beautiful sound it was when he first laughed. Unfortunately, with great loss, after six weeks of treatment, Felix went into respiratory failure and passed away. His death left a void within all who had the privilege of caring for him.

While Felix’s death was grieved, Flovia’s life was celebrated. After encountering countless others like Flovia and Felix, who were in desperate need of palliative care, Living Room was registered and Kimbilio Hospice was created to be a home with the aim of offering palliative care services within the community. Since its inception, Living Room has reached out to many among our community who are not only faced with terminal illnesses but also lack the love and care that signify human dignity.

Why is Living Room’s Work and Palliative Care so Important?

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. (WHO)

In 2010, the Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Needless Pain: Government Failure to Provide Palliative Care for Children in Kenya.” The report exposed, what is already well known to us on the ground, that Kenyan children and adults with diseases such as cancer or HIV/AIDS are unable to get palliative care or pain medication. Julianne Kippenberg, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said: “Kenyan children with cancer or AIDS are living, and dying, in horrible agony. Pain medicines are cheap, safe, and effective, and the government should make sure that children who need them get them.”

A daily dose of oral morphine can cost as little as a few cents, but the Kenyan government does not procure oral morphine for public health facilities as it does other essential medicines. Therefore, morphine is available in only seven of Kenya’s approximately 250 public hospitals. Of the more than 1.5 million Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS, 150,000 are children. While 250,000 people in Kenya are on anti-HIV treatment, this report showed that “all the morphine in the country can treat pain in only 1,500 terminal cancer or AIDS patients.”

Organizations like Living Room continue to work to raise awareness of the importance of pain management and treatment for those suffering from life-threatening and –limiting diseases and conditions.