MARCH 17, 1959
SHIRAZ, Iran—Just before I left on this trip I had a most interesting visitor back in New York—a young African from Kenya who is a medical doctor.
This young man, Munjai Njoroge, was born in Kenya in 1926. After obtaining his early education in Kenya, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Hygiene at the University of South Africa in Pretoria in the Union of South Africa.
Somehow he became the pen pal of a New York schoolboy and was encouraged to believe that if he came to America he would be able to get the more advanced education that he wanted. He had to survive various financial crises, but finally reached New York by way of London with three cents in his pocket. He borrowed his fare to California and enrolled at Stanford University, from which in due time he received his BS and MD degrees there.
He then held an internship at Kings County Hospital, New York, and later received an appointment at Presbyterian Hospital, also in New York.
Now he is planning to return to Africa as Kenya's first American-trained physician. He hopes to establish there the first modern hospital for Africans, administered by Africans, in a rural area, and he is being helped in this enterprise by the Medical International Cooperation Division of the International Rescue Committee.
I feel sure that this group is cooperating in its work with the World Health Organization is that the maximum good can come out of this enterprise.
Kenya is a British Crown Colony and Protectorate which is working toward its independence. It is about one and a half times the size of California. It has a population of a little over six million people, who are mainly engaged in agriculture.
What hospitals now exist in Kenya are in towns, so in the rural areas only a few government and missionary clinics serve the people. Most of the doctors are Europeans or Asians. They have done remarkable work, but few speak the language or understand the background of the people they serve. There is now only one other African private doctor in Kenya, so Dr. Njoroge on his return will be the second African doctor and the first trained in the United States.
This is an exciting project, and help will be needed to see it materialize. But I am sure there will be interest on a broad scale in this young man who had the determination and courage to travel more than halfway around the world for his education.
This is a great opportunity for the American people to show their interest in helping an area of the world where the Soviets are very ready to give "technical assistance" in order to prove that they understand the needs better than we do.
(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 17, 1959
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
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