Hope for Lwala

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.

"Sons of Lwala" featured on ABC World News Tonight, 1/30

Pulitzer Center grantee Barry Simmon's documentary, "Sons of Lwala," will be recognized by ABC World News Tonight, January 30, 2009. " Since the film's debut in April 2008, it has garnered many awards including the 2009 Dartmouth Martin Luther King Junior Social Justice Award for Emerging Leadership. Themain subject of the documentary, Milton Ochieng, who along with his brother helped build their village's first clinic is ABC's Person of the Week.

Medical Student's Life-Saving Dream Comes True

LWALA, KENYA- In 2006, NewsChannel 5 reported about a Vanderbilt University medical student who was the first person from his Kenyan village to fly in an airplane.

People back home sold their livestock to pay for his ticket to the United States.

Now they need Milton Ochieng back to save his dying village.

Every student at Vanderbilt Medical School encounters AIDS. But only Ochieng has been orphaned by it.

First his mother, then his father - he learned of their deaths through email.

"I don't think anything really prepared me for it," Ochieng said.

Med Students Keep Promise of a Clinic for Their Village in Kenya

Global health advocates are trying desperately to get your attention. They worry that statistics have lost their meaning. Who can wrap their mind around 6,500 Africans dying of AIDS every day, anyway? As the director of a global health advocacy firm in Washington told me the other day, "We need a story."

That's when I told her about Milton Ochieng'.

"Sons of Lwala" documentary premiers at Vanderbilt University

"Sons of Lwala," a film directed and produced by Pulitzer Center grantee Barry Simmons, follows two brothers from Kenya as they build their village's first clinic in dedication to their father who died of AIDS. The film premiered on March 27, 2008 at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.