The Leo Project expands


The Leo Project, an educational and healthcare nonprofit founded and led by Chilmark seasonal resident Jessica Danforth, will host an art show on July 31 at the Knowhere Art Gallery in Oak Bluffs. The event is both a fundraiser for the nonprofit and a showcase for artwork done by rural Kenyans whom the Leo Project assists through programs in digital literacy, sexual and reproductive health, creative art, adult literacy, and female empowerment. As The Times reported in 2019, the Leo Project was at work building an educational resource center in Nanyuki, Kenya. That facility was completed in 2020, and is focused on kids and young adults. Among many offerings at the center is programming utilized by more than 5,000 primary and secondary school students. The Leo Project is nearing completion of a medical clinic near the resource center that will focus on maternal and pediatric care. 

“The Caitlin O’Hara Community Health Clinic was conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis which evidenced the gross insufficiency of local medical facilities,” Danforth emailed. “The clinic was designed by Build Health International, and via partnership with Harvard University. We plan to offer equitable healthcare to the community. Construction is slated to be complete in August 2022 and, in our first year, we anticipate seeing approximately 12,000 patients. The addition of an ambulance equips us with the ability to bring equitable healthcare services to the more remote, under-resourced areas of Laikipia County and beyond.”

The clinic is named after Danforth’s closest friend, Caitlin O’Hara, who died of cystic fibrosis in 2016 following a double lung transplant. O’Hara had been a rock for Danforth during Danforth’s painful journey through recurrent breast cancer. The Leo Project came about as a promise to O’Hara just after she died. In a nutshell, the promise was to do something extraordinary in memory of O’Hara. Astrologically, O’Hara was a Leo, which in large part is how the name came about. 

The Knowhere Art Gallery event opens by special invitation from 4 pm to 6 pm on July 31, and to the public from 6 to 8 pm. 

Donations will assist in the completion and staffing of the O’Hara Clinic, and help finish a potable water station with the construction of a kiosk over a newly drilled well.