Profile - Kathy Flatoff - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Kathy Flatoff


Year Joined MKLM: 2017

Country: Kenya

TOWN: Kitale

MINISTRY: Preventative health and medical services at Nyato ya Asubuhi Center in Matisi 

MINISTRY AREA: Healthcare and Health Promotion 

NONVIOLENCE FOCUS: Restoration/healing. Promoting better health through clean water, sanitation and health-focused in-services results in fewer medical problems, diseases and hospitalizations. The overall result is less family and financial stress. 

CURRENT Ministry:

Nyato ya Asubuhi (The Morning Star) is a ministry run by the Daughters of Charity in the Matisi district of Kitale in western Kenya. Kathy is helping residents living in extreme poverty to access adequate healthcare. 

She focuses on preventative health by helping clients access reliable information about common illnesses, sickle cell disease and best practices in nutrition. She also helps clients access reliable treatment at local health facilities through referrals and patient advocacy.



ministry GOALS:

To improve the health and livelihoods and health-related knowledge of Matisi residents.



Ministry context:

Nyota ya Asubuhi has been serving the poor in Matisi since 2008. They serve an area that includes a large informal settlement and 10 nearby villages, all highly populated with families struggling to meet their daily needs. Job opportunities are scarce, since most people lack access to education. They must rely on selling vegetables, casual labor or small sustenance farming.

Diseases and sickness are prevalent in the area. Living in dire poverty can lead to drug use, unhealthy lifestyles and alcoholism. Illicit brewing of alcohol, which is hazardous to those who make and consume it, is sometimes seen as the only way to raise money and feed families.

Several major ethnic groups comprise the area, with the Luhya being the largest, however no group is a majority of the population. Many people in these ethnic groups continue to believe in traditional methods of healing (i.e., herbs), and some continue to blame curses for the diseases that affect them. Health education is of utmost importance for prevention and proper medical treatment.



Personal DATA:

Kathy grew up in Wisconsin, served as a corpsman in the U.S. Navy and then went on to nursing school, obtaining both a bachelor and master’s degree. Her nursing career focused on working with veterans. She had more than 30 years at the Department of Veterans Hospital in Tomah, Wisconsin, before retiring.

Kathy made several short-term mission trips to Haiti, Tanzania and Ethiopia. She always finished those trips, wishing they had been longer. After checking various opportunities for long-term mission work, she always came back to Maryknoll and officially became part of the 2017 Maryknoll Lay Missioners Class.

Kathy spent three years in Mombasa as the administrator of St. Patrick’s Dispensary in the informal settlement of Bangladesh. She returned to her home in Tomah, Wisconsin when her Maryknoll contract was over, but the thought of going back to Kenya was always there.

After two years she felt that God and her missioner heart were calling her back and she joined the 2023 Maryknoll Lay Missioner Class as a returning missioner. Currently she is serving in Kitale, in western Kenya.

Kathy’s portion starts at 1:38.