Ruth Schaefer (Mama Matata)

Board Member & Head of Rhein Valley Hospital

Ruth Schaefer sits on the Board of the Rhein Valley Hospital, which is headquartered in Altstaetten in the St. Gallen’s Rhein Valley. She has dedicated her life to the hospital and therefore the men and women of Kasambara-Gilgil in Kenya, which means Ruth Schaefer only occasionally returns to the Rhein Valley and only as a visitor.

She made the Rhein Valley Hospital near Nakuru the focus of her life some time ago. At first she assumed that building the hospital and then handing it over to locals would suffice. But soon she realized that the hospital needed her in order to keep the ideas of her partner in life, Stephan Holderegger, alive. She accepted the challenge to tackle various problems and find solutions for them.


Mama Matata

Her determination and her skill to treat Kenyan men and women got her the nickname «Mama Matata».

The Kenyan population lovingly calls her „Mama Matata“ because she – just like a mother – spots problems and always finds a way to solve them, be it in regards to Aids prevention or treatment, mass vaccinations, or even the organization and leadership of a camp for the displaced. These traits pose problems to corrupt officials because she lets it be known that the people and the Rhein Valley Hospital are what matter to her most.


Solving problems, small or big

Ruth Schaefer’s dedication doesn’t strive for profit or popularity but the solving of small or big problems. Like all other members of the Board, Ruth works without compensation. Locally, as the head of the hospital, she receives room and board but nothing else. Even though she deals with the most effective form of foreign aid, her group receives no official support. Therefore “Mama Matata” relies solely on the activities of her group to keep the hospital running with donations. And despite the many years of solving problems, “Mama Matata” continues to be challenged by the limitations of what is possible. The political situation only appears to be quiet and peaceful, and starvation and displacement are still issues. «Mama Matata».


Rhein-Valley - Hospital of Hope

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