Carolina for Kibera, Inc.

Run by Kenyans and advised by American and Kenyan volunteers, CFK's mission is to promote youth leadership and ethnic cooperation in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya through sports, young women's empowerment, and community development. Additionally, CFK works to improve basic healthcare, sanitation, and education in Kibera.
Aug 20, 2014

Home Visits with Esther

Millicent, with Mary.
Millicent, with Mary.

Recently I had the opportunity to tag along on a couple of “home visits” with Esther, one of the nutritionists at Carolina for Kibera’s Lishe Bora Mtaani Nutrition Center. Our destination was Gatwekera, a village in Kibera located south of the CFK office.

CFK staff members and Community Health Workers (CHWs) conduct regular home visits for several health-related reasons.  CHWs go door-to-door to administer health surveys, acquiring basic health information from families all over Kibera.  They also screen children for malnutrition; if the child is malnourished, they send them to CFK’s Nutrition Center.  The purpose of our visits was a little different.  We were checking up on some of the children who had completed the Nutrition Center’s 8-week program and been successfully brought back to full health earlier this year.

Esther is a resident of Gatwekera and led me through the maze of houses and narrow, winding streets— it’s been raining recently in Kibera, and although the dirt alleyways have been turned to thick, slippery corridors of mud, Esther made her way quickly and nimbly in her flats while I struggled to keep my balance in a pair of oversized gum boots.

Our first stop was at the home of Millicent and her 2-year-old daughter Mary, who was released from the nutrition center in January. As we stepped inside their home, Mary instantly hid herself behind the curtain separating the family’s bed from the main living area— she was happy to see Esther (her second mom/auntie), but wasn’t too sure about me. We sat down with Millicent and Esther asked her about Mary’s progress and status since leaving the center. She’s maintained a healthy weight, has good energy, and is meeting important developmental milestones such as walking and talking. Her mom told us that Mary is also a great eater: her favorite foods are rice and beans, spaghetti, and cabbage. Millicent also recently referred a neighbor to the nutrition center.

The home visits with Mary and other former patients of the nutrition center are a critical element of its holistic approach to treating malnutrition. Parents are equipped with the knowledge and skills to keep their children strong and healthy, and follow-ups serve to identify any challenges and provide support and assistance where needed. It was exciting and encouraging to meet the plump, happy, and healthy babies and their equally happy parents—it takes a village to raise a child, and nowhere does that ring truer than here in Kibera.

Jul 8, 2014

The CFK Sprinters Travel to the US to Compete!

CFK’s jump rope team, The CFK Sprinters, will represent CFK and the country of Kenya in this year's World Jump Rope Competition, hosted by CFK partner organization One World One Rope, which will be hosted in Orlando, Florida, from June 30 to July 10, 2014.  The team had an intense recruitment process, through which the best of the best were selected.

After months of intense weekly training sessions, the selection of individual jumpers was based on performance, commitment, dedication to jump rope, and discipline within the team. It took quite some time for the coaches to select individuals to go on the trip, since all performed well.

After deciding who would go, the next step in the process was to secure their traveling documents and visas.  While it’s a hectic task, through a good relationship between Carolina for Kibera, One World One Rope, and the US embassy, the team was able to secure their visas after an arduous interview process. 

Two girls and two boys will be making the trip, along with one coach and a female teacher representative from one of the jumpers’ schools, as is required by the Kenya Ministry of Education.  Wish them luck—we’ll be rooting for them!

Links:

Jul 2, 2014

Teaching Healthy Habits to Young Girls

They filed into the Tabitha Medical Clinic, seemingly identical in their school uniforms. Quiet and shy, they crammed close together on the benches of the reception area and spoke softly to one another. An elegant Kenyan woman appeared with a bright smile for all the girls. “Good morning,” she said, clapping her hands together. “My name is Macrine. I’m a nurse here at the Tabitha Clinic and I love myself. Let’s hear who you are,” she said, pointing to the girls to introduce themselves.

One by one, they stood and told the room their name, grade, and what they loved: themselves, their country, their families, their height, their school, recent Academy Award winner Lupita N’yongo (who is Kenyan), dancing, poems, everyone else in the room, their color, their tribe, soccer, smiling, music, the way they are. When the introductions were over, Macrine clapped her hands together and said, “This is good that we love ourselves and each other, and we have to remember to take care of ourselves and our bodies.”

Organized by CFK’s Daughters United (Binti Pamoja) program, around 40 young girls spent the day at the Tabitha Medical Clinic with Macrine to talk about health issues that affect them and to ask any questions they have about their health while in a safe environment. Topics ranged from ways young girls in Kenya should take care of themselves, the importance of taking preventative measures if engaging in sex, and the importance of being screened for cervical and breast cancer.

When the topic of breast cancer came up, one of the girls raised her hand. “What causes breast cancer?” she asked. Macrine turned the question to the group and asked what they had heard were the causes. Another girl raised her hand, “When you sleep on your stomach for too long, the breast doesn’t get enough blood and the result can be cancer.” A few others shared what they had heard about the disease before Macrine gave them new—and correct—information.

In Kibera, there’s an astounding amount of misinformation about important health issues like cancer, HIV/AIDS, STIs, and other medical conditions. Young girls grow up hearing myths that lead to real-life consequences. Regular, open health discussions like these help dispel incorrect information and stigma surrounding these health issues.

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