We hope everyone’s 2014 is getting off to a healthy, and productive start. New years are often filled with a sense of possibility, as dreams or aspirations seem to take on a more tangible form. Our aspirations of providing accessible and affordable care to the indigenous tribes of Kenya remain, continuing to grow with the demand each year. And in our pursuit, it is always important to be thankful and recognize our partners who help to keep us going.
At the end of January, Impatient Optimists, part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, posted an article on family planning and maternal health- how interconnected the two are and thus the importance of their integration. Though the focus group of the article is perhaps not the typical CHAT audience, who are of a lower socio-economic status than those the article relates to, the lessons learned from in depth data analyses that were preformed, are similar lessons CHAT has learned along the way.
One ‘lesson’ that came to mind when writing this report, is the absolute importance of consistency in care delivery, availability, and affordability of contraceptives. What is the best to achieve these two necessities? As the article concludes, it is through private and public partnerships that the needs are most effectively met.
For the past 10 years, CHAT and the Kenyan Ministry of Health have been partners in the goals of contraceptive availability, affordability and education. Together, we have been doing our best to ensure that the communities get what they need. But when the government falls short, and it certainly does at times, it is the private donors, such as you all who are reading this, who afford us the ability to keep our promise to these communities.
So, as we begin another year with you as one of our valued partners, we wanted to say a quick and simple, thank you. Your generosity helps to create a healthier world more than you may realize.
Let’s make 2014 a good one…!
The Team at CHAT
One of CHAT's volunteers, who has remained a helpful friend over the years, often writing these GG reports, is moving to Kenya in the New Year. She has crafted an email below about her experiences with CHAT and included a special "ask" for the clinic this Christmas season. Global Giving has afforded CHAT a steady stream of funding through thousands of generous individuals over the years, so we thought to share her email with you, as it gives CHAT the chance to give a little back to all of you. We call it the Worthwhile Stocking Stuffer. Please read the note below to learn more about the opportunity and about this volunteer......
As many of you know, I am moving to East Africa at the start of the New Year. What first brought me there, three years ago, was a health clinic by the name of Community Health Africa Trust (CHAT). The clinic is based in central Kenya and serves some of the most remote populations of Kenya's Central and Northern highlands. It is a humble, yet highly effective organization, that offers a wide range of services including antenatal care, child immunizations, basic curatives, HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, and health education on HIV prevention. But the core focus of its efforts is reproductive health and family planning.
It is a truly wonderful organization and one that I have been working closely with from afar these last three years. What I believe is most special about it, and what has made it so successful, in terms of being able to reach the targeted audience, is that it was founded, run, and managed by Kenyans who live in and amongst the people that they serve.
And, in a society where women carry the weight of their family and home on their backs, literally, it is quite a powerful feeling to see these ladies line up, one by one, by one, to receive a contraceptive of their choice. This choice gives women some say in planning a family they alone will often care for, when it was always (and often still is) her husband who decided just how many children a woman would carry.
Amongst many of the tribes in Kenya who the clinic serves, women will on average have 7 children and child bearing can begin as young as 13 years of age. In Laikipia, where CHAT is headquartered, an estimated 75,000 women want, but do not have access to, family planning.
So, this Holiday Season, I thought I might ask you to dip into your pockets and make a contribution to CHAT and the communities they serve. For any contribution of $100.00 or more, we will send out a simple token of thanks, a worthwhile stocking stuffer, hand beaded by a group of individuals in the Laikipia region of Kenya.
As a result of your generous donations, the last three months has enabled our Family Planning teams to reach many unserved communities. Those on drivable tracks were visited by our 4x4 vehicles and those in more inaccessible areas by our camel teams.
In July 2013 the motor mobile clinic provided Integrated Health Services to Displaced Families on Solio Ranch in Laikipia Central. Here the team reached 156 clients with Family Planning Services; diseases treated were scabies, acute arthritis, and rheumatism, being caused by exposure to the cold winds blowing across the somewhat desolate landscape. Also visited by our 4x4 team were 10 other poor communities all within Laikipia County. A total of 450 women received different types of FP. NB No matter how remote the village, the demand for FP was enormous.
Meanwhile, our Camel Mobile Clinic spent July trekking through the jagged Karissia mountains in Samburu County. The team of seven included five camel handlers, a Government nurse, a volunteer from Australia, one HTC counselor and one FPCBD. Their mandate was to take desperately needed Integrated Health Services including FP to over 15 poor often remote and underserved communities . The clinic assisted over 13 communities, with 1109 women choosing various options of FP - the long term FP being the preferred method. It is encouraging to see that more men are coming forward to request FP information.
FAMILY PLANNING BENEFICIARIES CASE STORIES
Sapero of Samburu County allow his wife to access family planning
Sapero is a 50 year old man from Samburu County. He has one wife and 8 children. He came with his wife to access family planning after talking with FPCBW Pauline Lakipi. He said that his wife had never used family planning before, and they wished to get the 5 year implant. He said that Lakipi had helped him to understand that it would benefit him, his wife and his children if he gave her a rest from giving birth. Sapero Nrandilli said before talking with Lakipi he had not thought about the benefits of family planning, but he now understands them. He says he will definitely encourage other men to bring their wives, and that he will also encourage his children to use it when they are older.
Rose of Samburu Central has a 5 year implant
Rose of Samburu Central received a 5 year implant from CHAT four years ago as she already had 8 children and did not want any more. As she is no longer continuously pregnant she is stronger and able to complete her daily chores. Rose says her 8 children are also healthier because she now has time to care for them. Rose is recommending family planning to all her friends.
Rose’s Husband says he has seen the benefits of Family Planning, and supports her using it. He is happy as she used to conceive even though she was still looking after another baby. He says that before she received the Implant from CHAT life was much harder for the family as Rose was always tired.
Sabina of Samburu Central has had two crude abortions
Sabina is A 14 year old girl ailing from Samburu Central and was brought into the camel mobile clinic camp by her Mother who requested a 5 year implant for the girl. The daughter who has a boyfriend has had two abortions in the last six months. Both being conducted in the bush, in secret, by an unqualified person. The girl did not wish to talk about the process, just saying it was horrible and that she didn’t want another one. A Samburu tradition allows a young warrior, (aged between 16-30 years) to give a girl red beads who then becomes known as his girlfriend and can then perform sex with her. Though conducted with the parents consent, it is common for warriors to have more than one girlfriend. As it is taboo for a warrior to marry a girlfriend, he uses her until he is ready to marry, when he will look for a wife. These traditions cause big problems for young Samburu girls because they are exposed to unsafe sex with men who often have many partners. More worryingly, should a girl have a child out of wedlock, she is considered unfit for marriage. This results in a high rate of abortions, most of which are carried out in secret and performed in brutal conditions.
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