My beautiful picture

Lalmba is a non-profit, tax deductible, humanitarian organization recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3). We are incorporated in the state of Missouri, and registered and headquartered in the state of Colorado.

Lalmba Association was started by “mom and pop” Hugh and Marty Downey from Kansas City, Missouri.  Hugh founded Lalmba after seeing (and immediately meeting) the needs of two orphan boys he met while serving in the US Army in Keren, Eritrea.  He went home, married Marty, and together they have served the people of Africa ever since, meeting the needs where they seem the greatest.  Little did they know that over the years, Lalmba would treat well over two million patients in our hospitals and medical clinics, and care for thousands of orphaned or at-risk children.

As Hugh and Marty grew older, they included many others in the work that they consider a blessing. In September 2013, they officially retired, and handed over the reins to their successors, Jeff and Hillary James. Jeff and Hillary are no strangers to Lalmba, having previously served as volunteers in Ethiopia. Various volunteers in the US assist Jeff and Hillary with accomplishing the details of this work. At this writing, several expatriate volunteers are serving in Kenya and Ethiopia for one to two years. Like us, their reward is in the work they do, and the lives they touch.

We are all grateful for the immense privilege of doing this work.

Lalmba Vision Statement

We envision a healthy, prosperous community where all at-risk children are educated, preventable disease is eradicated, and opportunities exist for people to provide for themselves and their families.

Lalmba Mission Statement

Empowering rural communities in Africa to provide their own people with high quality basic health care, effective public health initiatives, microfinance and support for vulnerable children.  We have a special love for children, whom we see not as a burden, but as part of a brilliant future for Africa.



We’re pretty small by international standards. We delight in calling ourselves “One of the World’s Smallest International Relief Agencies”.

But to the people we serve, we’re the GIANT – a group of committed professionals who search out the most remote parts of Africa in which to work – places where other organizations have chosen not to work.   You’ll find us in parts of Africa that are extremely remote, many hours’ drive from any modern city, on the shores of a lake and deep in tropical rain forests where no other Westerners are working. We specialize in providing medical care, health education and microloans to people who have no place else to turn, and support for very needy children who recognize us as their family now. Our work is not easy – but it certainly is rewarding.

We at Lalmba love what we do. Even though Lalmba has grown over the past 50 years, we still insist on “feeling small.” It’s important to us that our management, our volunteers, our African staff and our donors all feel like family, and that we get to meet and know the names of the people we serve. We work from home offices instead of in a fancy (expensive) building. If you call the Lalmba phone number, you’ll reach Hillary or Jeff, depending on who’s in the US right then.

Lalmba is supported through the generosity of thousands of individuals and small businesses. Of the actual cash donations required, 94% comes from individuals, small businesses, and individual churches. Lalmba receives no government funding. Because we are a volunteer-run organization, our overhead expenses are only 17%.

Some of you are BIG contributors and we truly appreciate your generosity. Others of you are small givers, and we are just as grateful for your thoughtfulness. Together, we make a huge difference in the lives of those we touch.

Welcome to Lalmba!

We have been working in Africa for over 50 years, mainly with orphan children and sick (very sick) people. We consider ourselves to be ordinary people who are church-goers, raised a family, and had the usual ‘bumps’ in life. We are simple folks. We don’t live in a big house or drive new cars. In Africa, we are at home living in a grass hut.

Lalmba is our ‘child’ (we have 2 biological ones also). No, we do not go to Africa with the idea of ‘saving the world’ but rather simply ‘making a difference’. And we have come to learn that we, and our colleagues, really do ‘make a difference’. Marty and I are dreamers! Yes, we see clearly the many problems which face Africa, but we also see solutions. We are hard working and have dedicated our lives to “doing the best we can to help”.

The difficulties of working in Africa pale in comparison to the blessings which we have received. We’ve learned so much! We’ve made such incredible friendships!

We’ll be the first to admit that when we started this work back in 1963, we had no idea what it would become. Had we known we probably would have been too scared to continue. But God has His own amazing ways of dealing with people like us. With His strength, we have been blessed to carry on this remarkable work.

Dreams? Yes, we had dreams. At first we had dreams of helping a few children and sick people. Over the years, our dream has become much larger. And now our dream is for the work of Lalmba to continue long after we are unable to do the physical work. The work of Lalmba is so vital to many people in our world . . . people who really have no other place to turn. It is rewarding, and still, every day is a challenge. Our lives are never boring.

We are very happy you have found Lalmba! If common sense, uncomplicated approaches to development aid speaks to you, you are in the right place. If you believe that empowering local communities to take on leadership roles in their own development appeals to you, then we speak the same language.  We are the only 2 Lalmba employees. We started out as Lalmba volunteers in Ethiopia from 2004-2006.  Now we, with your help, are leading Lalmba into the future. We keep things simple, work from home, we have 3 small children, and we believe, just as Hugh and Marty before us, that great things are possible with a relatively small investment in the great continent of Africa.  And we believe that God is guiding us and Lalmba every step of the way. If you want to know more about Lalmba, call us up. We’d love to talk with you!

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