Training Health Workers in Kenya Saves Lives

 
$245 $14,755
Raised Remaining

In Mombasa County, Kenya, cultural practices, religion, and other factors often stand in the way of women making choices about their reproductive lives. The dominant ethnic group, the Mijikenda, tend to marry girls at an early age and believe in large families. Cultural illiteracy and poverty are both common, particularly among women.

Linnet, a nurse at Mbuta Model Health Centre in Mombasa County, located ten kilometers from the nearest major hospital, did not have the proper training to consult and provide women with necessary contraceptive technology. Though she was able to administer contraceptive injections and pills, these forms of birth control are highly technical in practice, and many women who are illiterate cannot use them properly. Other birth control options were not available at Mbuta Model Health Centre.

 “In 2012 there was a woman who wanted an implant,” Linnet says. “But when I referred her to Mombasa, she did not make the trip because she lacked money for transport. After three months, she came back and wanted to have the injection. But when I ran a pregnancy test, she was already one month pregnant.”

 During a training course in contraceptive technology use, Linnet learned how to provide and use methods such as intrauterine devices, implants, and injectables. She was also equipped with counselling skills to help women make important decisions about reproduction. This training was funded by the Afya Elimu Fund, which allowed Linnet to expand her knowledge about women’s reproductive health and empower the women in her community to make informed choices.

Throughout Kenya, 17% of pregnancies are unwanted and 26% are mistimed. In 2013, 6,300 women died due to pregnancy-related causes. Women in rural and impoverished areas face particularly high risks, especially when—like the woman Linnet saw—they’re unable to access the care they need.

 Thanks to the training that Linnet and her peers received, health workers at Mbuta Model Health Centre now have the necessary background to support women and allow them to make informed reproductive decisions. This training would not be possible without the Afya Elimu Fund, which provided Linnet with the necessary financial support to attend.

Dominic at Tenwek Mision Hospital
Dominic at Tenwek Mision Hospital

In a small, three-bed ward at the Tenwek Mission hospital’s Maternity wing, Dominic moves about, assisting mothers and their newborn babies. He loves his work and has wanted to be a health worker since he was a child. But for this third year nursing student, the journey has not been smooth. He has had to miss classes on many occasions and pick up various jobs in order to pay tuition.

Kenya is in dire need of qualified health workers with only 15 health workers to every 10,000 people according to World Health Organization. And to make matters worse, many of Kenya’s health professional students are unable to pay their annual tuition fees—approximately 70,000 Kenyan Shillings ($767) for most public, middle-level colleges that offer certificate and diploma programs.  This leads to a high drop-out rate for students like Dominic, despite their motivation and passion for their careers.

Dominic is among 2050 students across Kenya whom Afya Elimu Fund (AEF) has provided hope and a stable source of funding for their training. To these students, donations from donors make the difference between saving lives and simply trying to make ends meet. For the 2000 students, AEF is a stress-free source of tuition as no interest is charged during their time in school.

What makes the AEF fund sustainable - and your donation go further - is that on completion of studies, students are given a one year grace period before commencement of repayment of loans at an interest rate of 4%. These repayments are reinvested back in to the fund as a resource for future students.  The fund seeks to ensure that all aspiring health workers, like Dominic, realize their dreams, improve the quality of health care and equitable distribution of health care workers across the country thus providing for the future health of all Kenya citizens.

We thank you for your continued support of the Afya Elimu Fund and students like Dominic!

Rescued Learning

Keeping students of healthcare in class

“When I received admission to study nursing at Tenwek School of Nursing my excitement overshadowed the financial challenges we had as a family. And yes, it has been tough, but the Afya Elimu Fund has given life to my story” says Caren, sharing her journey as a nursing student.

Caren is in her third year of study, pursuing a diploma in nursing at the Tenwek School of Nursing in Bomet County, Kenya. Caren is the second in a family of five, and carries her family’s hope for a better future. Her elder sister dropped out of school for marriage due to financial difficulties.

For Caren, going to school was not easy. When she received her admission letter, her father called her uncles and aunties to seek support for her tuition. “Sad as it may sound, they advised my father to marry me off. I am thankful that my father understands my passion to advance my studies beyond high school. He told them his daughter would go to school even if he would have nothing left.”

Caren’s father organized a fundraising event, which enabled her to report to school, but the money did not last long. She was soon sent back home for failure to pay school fees. “To reduce the frequency of disruptions, my father offered to supply the school with items from our small farm. While this kept me in school for some time, it deprived my family of their livelihood, they lacked more and more and it pained me so much.”

Caren’s determination to get a nursing diploma kept her going. In spite of the financial difficulty, she kept returning to school, hoping against hope that she was considered enrolled in classes. In her second year, she sought support from the Constituency Development Fund whose support covered fees for one semester. The remaining semester had many interruptions.

“I had no peace of mind and could not concentrate on my studies. I worried about where I would get money to pay for my fees. Besides, every time I would be sent home, I would lose a lot.”.

“The Afya Elimu Fund provided me with a lot of relief. I received loans that enabled me to clear my arrears and pay part of third year fees” Caren said.

Caren is grateful for the opportunity to concentrate for the first time on her studies—she can already feel her performance improving. Equally as important to her is that her father can now turn his full attention to supporting her siblings. 

To Caren, best of luck with your studies and your career as a health worker.  To our donors, thank you for your support in ensuring more health workers, like Caren, will be present, ready, connected and safe.

In addition to helping those wishing to pursue an education in health, The Afya Elimu Fund also helps those who wish to further their training; nurses like Phyllis.

Phyllis has worked at the Tenwek Hospital’s Continuing Care Clinic (CCC) for most of her nursing career, but she was not always trained in the more specialized area of adult antiretroviral therapy, or the ability to administer HIV medications, and this made her job more difficult. Before the training, there were times Phyllis struggled to help patients understand the more technically complex issues associated with HIV, which frustrated her greatly. One such issue was when a patient was not responding well to treatment. “I have had an experience where a patient comes and tells you ‘I have done everything you told me but my situation is not improving.’ It made me sad.”

HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest health challenges Kenyans face. According to UNAIDS, over 1,600,000 (approximately 6% of the population) Kenyans are living with HIV, most of whom are highly dependent on antiretroviral therapy. By increasing the number of health workers trained in antiretroviral treatment, the number of those receiving medication will greatly increase.

Since receiving additional in-service training, Phyllis now has a different experience as she attends to the numerous clients who visit her clinic every day. “The knowledge I gained has really helped me serve the clients better. I now have a lot of confidence as I serve my clients because I have the knowledge that I need.”

Phyllis says one of the most helpful things she learned at the training is how to monitor patients’ progress and quickly identify the causes of health concerns.

“I am now able to detect any failures in the patient and diagnose the cause. This is something I could not do before. It has made my clients happy.”

Thank you to our donors who support the Afya Elimu Fund and provide both new and continued training to healthworkers in Kenya.  Together, we can create a healthier world.

The need for more healthcare workers is worldwide but often times students face costly challenges in order to pursue their dreams. Meet Hawa, a nursing student in Kenya, who’s pursuit of her career as a health worker is a story many Kenyan students share.

Meet Hawa

Hawa Y. was born 24 years ago to a family of six in the arid plains of the Garba Tulla District in eastern Kenya. Like many Kenyan women in remote provinces, Hawa’s mother was uneducated and illiterate. Seeing the struggles her mother faced only motivated Hawa to work harder in school and further her education. But motivation is often not enough to overcome some of the many hurdles students in Kenya face. Once Hawa completed her primary education in 2002, she was unable to move on to high school due to lack of funding for school fees. Though this delayed her progress, Hawa persevered and was able to procure funding from a ministry group to attend high school.

In 2005, Hawa’s father suffered from an infection in his lungs. After several months in a public hospital, his condition worsened and he was transferred to a public referral hospital. It was then that her calling to be a health worker began. She witnessed the efforts, the care and concern of the health workers attending to him, and later was encouraged by her father to study medicine, particularly nursing, because, in his words, “nurses are always within a patient’s reach”.

Hawa refocused her efforts, and worked hard to graduate high school with high marks. She was admitted to a public university; however, once again, she was unable to enroll because of a lack of funding. Undeterred, Hawa accepted a job as a cleaner at a pharmacy, which only encourage her dream to practice medicine. “I would listen to him prescribing medication to patients with envy. I wished I was a health worker like him. I prayed to be one someday,” Hawa recalls. In 2011, Hawa was admitted to the Kenya Medical Training College, Machakos. Her mother and several members of the community raised money so that Hawa could attend school. It has been a long, difficult journey to Machakos Medical Training College, but she is now in her second year studying to be a nurse.

Hawa’s struggle to find funding for her academic pursuits is a common one for youth in Kenya. Some of the largest expenses students pursuing a career in health care face are often tuition and living expenses. Sometimes, if they raise the money for tuition like Hawa’s community did for her, the students are then unable to pay rent to live close to school or afford the transportation to get there. Or, that funding runs out, and the student is forced to leave school. The Afya Elimu Fund aims to alleviate this problem by providing loans to students like Hawa, who pursue an education in health care.

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Organization

Project Leader

Lisa Mangiapani

Development Officer
Chapel Hill, NC United States

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