Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services

by Communities Health Africa Trust
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Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
Reduce Suffering in Kenya Via Health Care Services
CHAT team led by Roselyne (CORP) in Nanyuki slums
CHAT team led by Roselyne (CORP) in Nanyuki slums

As we entered into this godforsaken slum compound we found two little girls playing with in a basin of dirty water.  Their mother was nearby was giving instructions to a local carpenter who was fixing their door that was an inch from falling apart. From the look of things it seemed that they did not have a male figure in the house.

“I am a single mum, that is why I am into prostitution. Feeding five children is not easy.” Leah* explained as she added that “After delivering my last set of twins, I did not want more children and since I have goiter I could not use any kind of hormonal method.”

I encouraged “him” we use condoms but he completely refused. One day after I came back from work (then I used to be known as Mama Safi - Mama Smart) I found my baby’s diaper tied in reverse and she seemed uncomfortable. When I checked what was wrong, I found that the guy - their own father - had raped her! I chased him away and decided to carry the burden of raising my children alone.”

Being Mama Safi was not enough and that is how she became a lady of the night. From her appearance one could not tell what Leah did or that she was HIV positive. To protect herself from pregnancy and from infecting other people she uses condoms. She proudly showed us her stash saying that these we the tools of her trade ‘Wengine wakitumia jembe - na computer mimi, natumia condoms. Zinanisaidia sana’ translates to “…others dig in the fields or use computers, I use condoms. They help me a lot”.

Leah did not know what other sure method she could use in order to protect herself from pregnancies. She was willing to but just that she could not help herself. Roselyn Mulonzya, a community own resource person (CORP) living in the Nanyuki slum, counseled Leah on the family planning methods & in particular the tube ligation (BTL) option – which Leah chose to go for. She reasoned that since she could not use the coil because of her trade she would go for a BTL since she was sure that she did not want more children.

“Many friends that I work with have the same predicament I wish they could come and learn from you, Roselyn. They all encounter difficulties with the men who do not want to use condoms. For my friends & I using a condom is about avoiding pregnancies but for the ignorant men it is protection from HIV. These women just want to feed their children, to avoid having more mouths to feed. I wish people could understand this.” She added.

Roselyn referred Leah to a clinic for the BTL since it cannot be provided by a visiting door to door CORP. Roselyn was going to be doing follow ups since she knows where she lives.

“With the interactions that I have been having with the women here I have learnt that they want to protect themselves and bring up their families with the little that they earn. The fp services go a long way in ensuring that they can do this with the worries of a unwanted pregnancy no longer looming over them.” Rose explained.

To support mothers like Leah and other underserved or forgotten communities in general, CHAT has in the last quarter, been able to reach a total of 33,769 individuals with Family Planning which includes a component of ecological awareness information, of these a total of 12,797 women chose actual different family planning methods, 2,636 patients treated for different conditions, 501 ante natal women were attended to and 821 children either immunized or referred for immunization services – all these working towards the sustainable development goals (SDG)

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Loima the role model
Loima the role model

Today the motor- mobile clinic reached Bokish village, a remote village in Laikipia North sub-County whereby access to transport and communication is a challenge. The area seems like a lost village from the past. Children roam in the forest playing while also looking after goats and sheep. I get to understand that the mature men are the ones in-charge of herding cattle. An empty building stands as a school, but has no life going on – with neither teachers nor pupils.

We are welcomed by the village headman who is delighted about CHAT’s health workers who can help his clan members who have been experiencing health problems. The village had been informed before by CHAT’s partners, the CORPs prior to the team. After making camp for the clinic, the villagers start streaming in for services.

Lolima* who is 27 years old has six children - 4 girls and 2 boys. She got married off at a young age of sixteen by her stepmother, after her own mother died. She was in class 6 and would have liked to complete her education but her step-mother colluding with her father and decided to marry her off - so as access the bride price wealth for their family. She does not like the idea of adding more children to her already large family that include her husband and co-wives’ children. After having consulted the CORP who was mobilizing in the village the previous days, she came prepared to choose and receive the 5-year contraception protection implant. She does not involve her husband because the decision on the number of the children one has is for the happiness of the husband - and the idea of pausing child birth will not augur well with him. She tells that she will discuss this later with him, and she is tired so she better receive first.  She’s enthusiastic about it and believes that after receiving the implant she will become stronger since she has escaped the tiresomeness brought about by constant pregnancies; she will have more strength to complete her daily chores such as collecting fire wood, water, milking and looking after the children.

Jackline, who is a CORP partnering CHAT, tells her that not only will she  benefit from receiving the implant but her children as well as she will devote more time to taking care of them.  She will also be able to improve her wellbing and have time to engage in income generating activities if she chooses to. She’s so happy and tells CHAT that she will refer “others”

With your support (cost shared), within this past quarter under review, CHAT was able to reach a total of 25,347 individuals with Family Planning that encompassing ecological awareness information, of which a total of 86 ANC mothers were attended, 56 children immunised, 1,132 patients treated for different conditions and a total of 13,405 women chose and took different family planning methods.

“We're in business to relieve human suffering, to help feed the poor, to provide education and culture - but above all else, we're concerned with the relief of human suffering”-Jon Huntsman, Sr.

Taking health services to the needy is our passion
Taking health services to the needy is our passion
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Saving Life is our passion
Saving Life is our passion

CHATs motor mobile clinic visited Bokish community in Mukogondo, North Laikipia, Kenya to offer medical services, because the nearest facility is over 30 Kms away - up and through the  Mukogondo hilly forest, which has some of the worst driving terrain in Laikipia County - (one can only drive down the cliff with an off road car – a Land Rover or Land Cruiser - but not any other car). The indigenous forest harbors hunters and gatherers, with a few pastoralists that migrated from other areas. It is so dry at this time of the year; and overstocking compounded by over population and poverty is the cause of overwhelming degradation of the environment.

“During CHATs outreach visit to this desperate traditional, conservative community, the majority of the community visited the clinic to receive different health services -  and I being a Pastor and mobiliser, realized that it was my duty to ‘bring light’ to this marginalised community” CHATs CORP partner, Parare, narrates. It’s during a ‘Lemojong’- a Maa  traditional singing and dancing event held at night by the young beaded girls, that Parare  met Nabolo*- a beauteous beaded girl.

“I can see that you are a Pastor & health mobiliser. I have been listening to your ‘preachings’ but realized that the youth in this community have been brainwashed by tradition;  in fact you won’t believe that most of these young innocent-looking girls (barely 15 years old), have two or more boyfriends and have broken their virginity in the name of attending such events,” Parare recalls Nabolo’s comments. After an in-depth discussion between the two, Parare realized that these innocent young ladies just practiced what they traditionally knew; Nabolo could not give any risks associated with their actions – she was just doing what she learnt from her peers.

“I have noticed that the information about integrating Population, Health & Environment (PHE) as a component within the FP is not for my ears alone as most of us, including the community, must work together to organize a big meeting at the village square during one of the ‘Chekuti or Gumbaro skul’- a kind of schooling for beaded girls, morans (young warriors) & elderly, who have never attended elementary school,” Nabolo explained.

“CHAT management organized for the motor mobile clinic as an opportunity to provide choices to this vulnerable community choosing between ‘ill’ culture and, to my surprise on that particular day, the mobile clinic turned the whole event into celebrations aand many community members visited the clinic to receive fp health services instead of their usual classes,” Nabolo narrates.

“I noted that majority of these young girls and morans had STIs, with a few bold young beaded girls confirming that they have had several unsafe abortions traditional using herbs they prepare locally,” CHATs Nurse Ntinyari explains. “I wish I had met this team on time as at my age, I have already had an abortion as I was not sure of the moran responsible for my ordeal, but at least you have been here and I gained much from all of you, and I will ensure that the many generations yet to come will never undergo the same experience as mine. Three years implant is my ‘life saver’ now and will always work closely with you, Pastor,in spreading the news,” an amazed Nabolo laments. 

“I can attest that I being a Pastor and a CORP will not only provide health information, but also spiritual nourishment to this community as family planning goes hand in hand with religion as birth control is an important moral choice - motherhood is a choice not a requirement,” CORP & Pastor Parare then waved farewell to the community

With your support (cost shared) in the quarter under review, CHAT has in  been able to reach a total of 19,734 individuals with Family Planning encompassing ecological awareness information of which, a total of 71 ANC mothers were attended, 85 children immunised, 1,047 patients treated for different conditions and a total of 8,685 women chose and took different family planning methods.

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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
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Gatwiri receiving services via door to door nurse
Gatwiri receiving services via door to door nurse

At the foot of Mt Kenya, Gatwiri,* is a 14 year old girl living in a Nanyuki town slum called Likii, since 2012

“I came to work for my aunt as a maid, earning a meager salary of Kes 1000/- a month (USD $ 10). It was rigorous and back-breaking work.

When my aunt approached me to accompany her to Nanyuki, I naively imagined that life would be rosy; but was soon puzzled as to why my ‘dear auntie’ began treating me the way she did after I complained to her about the enormous workload. My aunt, annoyed, then beat me unconscious, locking me in a room for two days without food/water.

I managed to run away to a friend who ‘worked’ in Nanyuki’s 'red light’ street.

Another chapter opened - I am now a prostitute!” Gatwiri smiled to an astonished CHAT nurse.

Gatwiri’s friend introduced her to a new life of “money without sweat”’ as she put it - a life where she makes money effortlessly, sometimes as much, or even more than what she was earning per month - in just one night!

“What with the big spending foreign soldiers and our own army soldiers, who number in thousands - and not forgetting that Nanyuki is a popular tourist destination - all good for ‘businesses! And provides me with a much needed refuge away from that cruel harridan of an aunt!”

“I have perfected the art of prostitution. Sex work’ is my permanent source of income - affording my own rent in the neighboring Majengo slum.

I was a timid innocent girl, but currently I am now a hardened night lady who not only will sell sex, but also indulge in drug abuse - and I have also terminated several pregnancies,” Gatwiri comments.

“This way of life brings with it challenges such as being used without payment for my services by ‘macho men’ - being raped and dumped, often mostly late at night; being assaulted, or arrested for loitering by security personnel whose main motive is often to extort money from me, or give them free sex – sometimes in gangs!  Nonetheless, there seems to be no turning back as much as I want to. I don’t have another way of making money – and anyway, I feel like society would not accept me back to allow me to lead a normal life,” she says.

“I can attest that Gatwiri detests being what she is today. She never dreamed she would end up like this – selling sex;  but she does manage to feed, clothe herself and pay for her one shack ” CHAT's mobiliser, Rosie, confirms.

“I learnt about CHAT services from a friend” says Gatwiri, “Out of curiosity, I visited Rosie, when she counseled me about the different FP options I realized a sense of freedom!

Rosie discussed risk factors associated with my lifestyle – STIs and HIV/AIDS. I thank God that I had not contracted HIV /AIDS (as far as I know) which my peers and I in this business regard so casually - that AIDS is “just another accident” but is actually serious concern causing fear and dread,” Gatwiri laments.

And hey, this might surprise you but I am getting married and will invite CHAT team for my wedding - I feel I am  here today because  they opened my eyes so much -I really appreciate the knowledge and sensitivity they shared with me,” Gatwiri smiles as she leaves the clinic.

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 three(3) months.

Did you know Kenya has the highest unskilled abortion rate (46%) worldwide.

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Organization Information

Communities Health Africa Trust

Location: NANYUKI, LAIKIPIA REGION - Kenya
Website:
Project Leader:
SHARON WREFORD-SMITH
Nanyuki, Kenya
$32,999 raised of $100,000 goal
 
324 donations
$67,001 to go
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