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.
Oct 27, 2015

Bentado's Clever Plan

Bentado sits with Pauline & Ismael in their home.
Bentado sits with Pauline & Ismael in their home.

In a community where health misinformation is common, spreading the truth requires a lot of quick thinking and problem solving. Take, for instance, a recent encounter that Community Health Volunteer, Bentado, ran into when conducting a follow-up visit to the home of baby Ismael. Ismael was discharged from the hospital where he was born before getting a vital vaccine to prevent tuberculosis. Usually the vaccine is only given on particular days of the week, and hospital staff encouraged Pauline, Ismael’s mother, to return on a day the vaccine was being distributed. However, that wasn’t so easy for Pauline, who believes for religious reasons that no one should see her baby until he is one month old. Waiting a month would make it too late for the vaccine to be effective.

Upon learning that the baby had not gotten the vaccine, Bentado had to think fast to come up with a solution. So she devised a plan: swaddle the baby completely, only leaving space for the baby to breathe, and walk with Pauline to the Tabitha Medical Clinic to administer the vaccine. Bentado had also confirmed ahead of time that they would be attended to immediately upon arrival. With this plan, Ismael got the important vaccine!

Like Pauline, many Kiberan women face barriers to getting their children healthcare. Some of them, like the one Pauline faced with Ismael, are traditional or religious in nature. Others are more social. CHVs like Bentado are working hard with CFK to provide accessible, accurate, and friendly service to women like Pauline. One such service is through Care Groups, small groups of women who meet once a week to talk about their health and their children’s health. Pauline is enrolled in a Care Group and has received much more knowledge than she anticipated. She was surprised to discuss a wide range of topics, including her own reproductive health, family planning methods, and how ante-natal doctor visits can bolster the health of the mother as well as that of the child.

Those lessons are what keep Bentado working as a Community Health Volunteer. “Teaching the community how to improve health and prevent illness by adopting healthy practices has been the best part of being a CHV,” she explains, “especially when you see a change in their behaviors. This really motivates us to do more.” She and her colleagues wouldn’t have it any other way. “The community is indeed in charge of their own health and development. We are in fact actively involved in taking care of our own health needs.”

Sep 4, 2015

A Visit from WomanCare Global

This past August, we were honored and privileged to welcome the leadership team from WomanCare Global to our office in Kibera! CEO Saundra Pelletier and her team visited CFK in Kenya in order to get a sense of what kinds of activities our Binti Pamoja girls program conducts, and how those same activities extend across all of our programs. During their visit, they got a chance to see the Binti Pamoja Girls Center, our state-of-the-art Tabitha Medical Clinic, the Lishe Bora Mtaani Nutrition Center, and the CFK Main office, where they met with key staff members and partners.

WomanCare Global is an international organization dedicated to meeting the unmet demand for family planning in countries where medicine and proper health information is scarce. They take a particular interest in reproductive health solutions for women and girls around the world, including Kenya, and have brought new options to women in 100 different countries. We are happy and proud to associate with them, especially since our new initiative to bring proper health information to women of childbearing age and children under 5 fits in quite nicely with their mission. We look forward to future opportunities to partner and repeated visits to Kibera!

 

(Photos courtesy of Jerry Riley - Nairobi)

Aug 10, 2015

The First Ultrasound in Kibera

Many of us are familiar with what an ultrasound looks like, but in Kibera, many women are not. Many are also not aware of how vital they are to maternal health, believing instead that only women with ample resources can get ultrasounds and that they aren't absolutely necessary. In reality, ultrasounds are incredibly important.

In Kibera, this is especially true. Maternal death is higher in Kibera than many parts of Nairobi and Kenya more broadly. Without access to proper ante-natal care at the early stages of pregnancy, pregnant Kiberan women are at higher risk for miscarriage, losing babies during delivery, or even losing their own lives because of complications. In response to this need, Carolina for Kibera and the Tabitha Medical Clinic are pleased to unveil a new facet of our mission to provide improved healthcare for women of childbearing age. The Tabitha Medical Clinic now houses the first ever ultrasound machine in Kibera!

Having an ultrasound machine within Kibera will address many problems associated with access to quality care for Kiberan women. “Because it’s the first,” comments Mark Muasa, Head of CFK’s Health Department, “it’s going to have a very large impact for women’s health in Kibera.” The machine will help detect abnormal infections or growths that could threaten the life of the mother or the baby. Knowing things about the baby’s sex will also help the family prepare materially and financially, but also psychologically.

In the past, the Tabitha Medical Clinic staff referred women to outside hospitals and clinics for ultrasounds. Due to a combination of several factors—including time, distance, and overall level of trust—women would neglect to attend appointments that were costlier and farther away. “I think it’s an issue of equity,” explains Mark. “We want to give people the same experience they’ll get in any other private facility. We are trying to close the gaps so women can have access to quality healthcare.

In the short time since the Tabitha Medical Clinic staff unveiled the machine, at least 10 women a day have lined up for a visit. That’s 10 women a day who are safer and healthier as they prepare to have children, who will grow up safer and healthier as well. We are very excited to provide this service for Kiberan women!

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