Nov 15, 2017

AWAKENING

Nyangweso receiving FP services from a locum nurse
Nyangweso receiving FP services from a locum nurse

As Jacqueline-CHATs CORP, was leaving her home to go to the village for her mobilization, she met with Nyangweso* coming from fetching water. She was struggling to carry the large pale of water which clearly looked larger and stronger than her frail body. Jacqueline was aware of her struggles and wanted to talk to her so as to help her by sharing knowledge with her. When Jacqueline stopped her, she was scared to talk or even spend another minute with her; she was afraid her husband would beat her up for talking to anyone on the road and getting back home late. He is a bitter man and does not welcome people even when they want to help out; but Jacqueline convinced Nyangweso that she would take only five minutes of her time.

“I am a 29 years old mother of eight children all born one year apart. My husband and I are also HIV positive and infact, most of my time I am either pregnant or carrying an infant. Nowadays these digital youths in my neighborhood refer to me as ‘Mama Assembly’ because I was the youngest married woman in the village but with most number of children and in most cases, the local church here always makes food and clothes donations to my family because my husband and I can’t afford our children’s upkeep from the little bit of family land,” Nyangweso confirms to CHAT’s CORP partner, Jacqueline.

In their short interaction, Jacqueline learnt that Nyangweso does not want to have more children, as she cannot afford even the most basic requirements. After a lengthy chat, Nyangweso felt that it was wise if she could access the long acting contraception protection method, but on the other hand she was afraid of her husband who, despite all the challenges they faced in bringing up these children, has always been on her back to continue giving birth as he is a traditionalist and doesn’t mind having as many children as they can as he believes that every child born comes with its own blessings.

Though Nyangweso gave warnings of how her husband can be, Jacky did not shy away and went ahead and talked to him, but she decided to use the “ecological awareness” approach to see how he was going to react. After a back and forth due to his difficult nature, he was able to understand that they needed to stop having children so that Nyangweso would grow strong and also so that they could provide enough for their already large family without having to worry about another extra mouth to feed. With his permission, Nyangweso was able to get the five year contraception protection implant method.

“FP is a strategy of balancing population growth with economic development for sustainable use of natural resources as high population growth induces increased demand for resources and the rate at which these resources are exploited. I believe that the Population, health and environment your organization has introduced to us are connected inextricably for Population growth unbalanced with economic development leads to food insecurity which exposes households to the consumption of food with reduced quality and quantity leading to increased risk of malnutrition and poor health as this of my children. Food insecurity again obliges people to encroach into the natural environment leading to a spiraling progress to destitution,” Jacqueline further explains.

“In our area, male dominance is extremely strong, thus women are always scared and however there is little knowledge about how fp can so positively affect the ecology. With this, I will be able to open their eyes so that they will understand the importance of FP for them” Jacqueline testifies “It is tough, but one step at a time.”

In the quarter under review, thanks to your donations- that contributed to helping CHAT reach 19,141 individuals with family planning/ ecological awareness information out of which 6,638 clients were able to access different FP contraception methods of their choice & 1,228 patients treated for different conditions.

 “We must alert and organise the world’s people to pressure world leaders to take specific steps to solve the two root causes of our environmental crises – exploding population growth and wasteful consumption of irreplaceable resources. Overconsumption and overpopulation underlie every environmental problem we face today,” Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Nov 15, 2017

BREAKING THE HYKE

Fatuma providing sensitisation at Isiolo MCH
Fatuma providing sensitisation at Isiolo MCH

“Yei, I got it, I got it!!” sighed Halima* with joy at receiving a 3 years contraception protection method of family planning (FP), and having called Fatuma*- CHAT’s partner and a Family Planning Community Own Resource Person (FPCORP) to report on the good news.

“My husband has finally accepted and I have visited Eremeti dispensary for my implant” Said Halima with uncontrollable tears of joy.

Halima’s husband, Muhusin*, is a Madrisa teacher (one who teaches on Muslim doctrine), but with Fatuma’s household health education that includes a strong referral system, Muhusin had become an ‘enlightened’ man and allowed his wife to visit the Eremeti health facility to access family planning services.

This Muslim community has very rigid religious belief.  Women in this particular setting have very little or no say - their husbands making most of the decisions on their behalf.

It has been a challenging journey requiring enormous amounts sensitization sessions & patience breaking into these strong religious communities - but CHAT in collaboration with members of the community and the Kenya Government - ministry of health (MOH)  identified Fatuma, a wife to the Mullah ( senior religious leader in a Mosque) to facilitate the gentle penetration to these relatively deeply religious communities.

CHAT’s support to  Fatuma’s important work, has been well received - echoed by the Kenyan government, the MOH , where Muslim women’s accessibility to fp services have increased tremendously from approximately 5%  in 2014, to approximately 25% by October 2017.

Before Muslim women would not even walk to the health facility to seek for any health-related services without their husband’s consent -  let alone seek FP services - which is still a controversial issue within the Muslim faith.

However, Fatuma by using CHAT’s innovative a door to door mobilization method of sensitization using a back packing strategy, most of these stringent cultural and religious barriers are slowly fading, paving a way for women to freely walk to the health facilities and seek for health care services – and most with a major focus on seeking for  FP services!

This was pointed out during a field visit by CHAT’s Project officer to facilities around Isiolo Town - by the GoK Medical Officer who commented that - “This county is very much impressed by the work done by Fatuma, the FPCORP that you are supporting - her mobilizing, counseling and referring within this very stigmatized group (Muslim women) about FP services” said Dr. Kiluva, the Medical Superintended Officer.  “Were it not for the effort of Fatuma, the hospital would be reporting very poorly in these family planning/ Reproductive health key indicators,” he added.

“Fatuma’s contribution is highly felt in both Maternal Child Health and FP departments, where she is referring an average of 30 - 45 FP clients for long term contraception methods, and 15- 20  for short term contraception methods,  on a monthly bases respectfully,”  noted Miss Halake –  Isiolo County Gok MoH Nursing Officer  & Reproductive Health Coordinator.

In the quarter under review, thanks to your donations- that contributed to helping CHAT reach 19,141 individuals with family planning/ ecological awareness information out of which 6,638 clients were able to access different FP contraception methods of their choice & 1,228 patients treated for different conditions.

“Woman has always been the chief sufferer under this merciless machinery of the statutory law. Humbly she has borne the weight of man-made laws, surrendering to their tyranny even her right over her own body.... Against the State, against religion, against the silence of the medical profession, against the whole machinery of dead institutions of the past, the woman of today arises.... If she must break the law to establish her right to voluntary motherhood, then the law shall be broken. ~Margaret Sanger, "Shall We Break This Law?" in The Birth Control Review, February 1917  [Referring to the Comstock Act. —tε¡·g]

Halima (FP beneficiary), beating against all odds
Halima (FP beneficiary), beating against all odds
Aug 18, 2017

"CULTURE SHOCK" DAKTARI MONITORING CHAT

Dr. Oliver assisting CHAT with service provision
Dr. Oliver assisting CHAT with service provision

After 5 weeks I found myself sat in the beautiful surroundings of the charity’s base outside Nanyuki town, faced with the formidable challenge of compiling all my experiences and emotions into a semi-lucid dialogue. From London and having just graduated as a medical doctor I opted to volunteer with Communities Health Africa Trust (CHAT). One job was to monitor CHAT’s activities.

My first time to understand the extent of need in the undeserved communities that CHAT visits was in my first 14 days accompanying the motor mobile clinic team. We reached 7 communities dotted over great distances within Samburu County in northern Kenya.

On reaching a very dry remote community “Ol Donyo Nasipa”, I felt a palpable sense of satisfaction as we started unloading medicine to begin the day's work. Even before setting the tables, clients & patients had surrounded the whole team ready to receive services, with rogue children running around aimlessly, excited by the commotion. We worked the full extent of the daylight. FPCORPs mobilizing and educating communities about integrated Family Planning (FP) with ecological awareness, the driver assisting in weighing children with a comedic scale device that wouldn't look out of place in a British fish market, the nurse immunizing children both small and large & the clinical officer providing basic treatment to patients as well as working together with the nurse in provision of FP contraception methods.

It was with this kind-hearted and truly unflappable nurse that the most obvious need for CHAT was found, as she spent the entirety of her day literally encircled by mothers who were awaiting impatiently for their child's turn; adding a soundtrack to the scene was a chorus of betrayed children screaming their disapproval at the countless needles the nurse was working her way through - surprisingly there were some as old as 4 years who had not yet received any vaccinations, a grave-risk to their young lives.

Meanwhile the FPCORPs, using Samburu’s local dialect provided information about FP contraception methods to families that had even up to 12 children. For those ready to receive free FP contraception methods of their choice were provided there and then.

For many, these services are normally 2 days walk or an unaffordable motorbike ride away, conditions I can imagine you would not welcome when sick. This of course is only the journey there, next is the question of where they can stay if not an inpatient,  and how will they afford the small costs of interventions and consultation as well as who will look after any children or cattle which they care for, in their absence. Barriers such as these are toppled with the hard work of CHAT and as I sat on a bumpy ride back to our camp I felt I had a good appreciation of just how vital this charity is.

I realized that CHAT uses the Population Health & Environment (PHE) approach and since family planning is a strategy of balancing population growth with economic development for sustainable use of natural resources, the PHE approach leads to an increased FP access and reproductive health services in the underserved & remote communities, as it integrates the environment into reproductive health and FP programs -prompting not only greater participation of women and adolescent girls, but also encourage men and adolescent boys to get involved, hence leading to a more effective and sustainable solution to the population and environmental issues.

”Population growth is straining the earth’s resources to the breaking point and educating girls is the single most important factor in stabilizing that, plus helping women gain political and economic power and safeguarding their reproductive rights” Al Gore.

CHAT reached 15,938 individuals with fp/ecological awareness information, of which a total of 1,609 patients were treated for different conditions; 7,448 women chose different FP contraception methods in 10 counties where CHAT operates in the last 6 months.

CHAT is simply an amazing inspirational charity created by Kenyans for Kenyans.”

Dr. Oliver practising what he likes best
Dr. Oliver practising what he likes best
 
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