Seven years ago, Milton Ochieng' became the first person from his village in Kenya to receive a college scholarship in the United States. There was only one problem: His family could not afford the airfare. So neighbors in Lwala sold their cows, took out personal loans and raised nine hundred dollars. At his send-off, village elders handed Milton a plane ticket worth more than their annual incomes. The gift was offered with one request: "Just don't forget us."
Milton attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where, during his senior year in 2004, his world began to unravel. He received word by email that his mother had died after a prolonged illness. A year later, his father, Erastus, also passed away. At the time, few in Lwala acknowledged the disease that was destroying their village, but everyone knew it was AIDS. Before he died, Erastus began drawing up plans with Milton for a village hospital. Eventually, it would house an operating room and a pharmacy, and provide round-the-clock medical care to thousands of people. His dream was to bring modern medicine to this rural, forgotten outpost, but he died three weeks before the groundbreaking. He was the seventh member of Milton's family to die of AIDS.
For the past two years, Milton and his brother Fred have been hurriedly raising funds to finish what their father started. During that time they've received help from students, teachers, friends and total strangers from all over the country. Now, finally, they are returning to their village for the grand opening. Villagers will receive their first vaccinations. Some will meet, for the first time, a health professional. The ceremony, which will take place on the grounds of the clinic, will begin – at Milton's request – with its dedication to his father.