Happy 2015 to all of you! Below are a few excerpts from our Director's year-end notes. We have received some good news, had some harrowing rock climbing accounts in the field, entered into some new territories, and will hopefully be sending the beloved camels out on a trek very soon! Please take a read below to get a taste of what life on the ground in Kenya has been like over the past few months:
ACCESS TO COMMODITIES:
We were given the most amazing surprise in November when, after months of trying to get at some longer term family planning (fp) commodities sitting in the government stores, the Kenyan government released approximately 15 million KSH worth (!!!) of the longer term fp implant method commodities to CHAT for us to distribute. This will be able to help 18,000 women to protect themselves for 3 years against unwanted pregnancies. This is great news in light of the below facts:
- Studies have shown that Kenya has one of the highest unskilled abortion rate in the world!? And though we don’t know the rate for infanticide, from our experience we know this must be very high too!
- Currently, approximately 225 million women in developing countries want to avoid pregnancies, but are not using modern contraceptives.
- Poor maternal health and HIV/AIDS are the two most common causes of death for women of reproductive age- and a key factor is lack of use of appropriate contraception!!
ACCOUNTS FROM THE FIELD:
Recently, the CHAT team traversed breathtakingly beautiful scenery while providing fp services to underserved, poor communities in Nyandarua (central Kenya - a 1st time visit to this part of Kenya for CHAT).
We used our motor mobile and backpack strategies to reach these ‘forgotten’ communities who live on the steep slopes and valleys west of the Aberdare forests. Here, in the sheer heights of South Kinankob, CHAT’s backpacking nurse, Pauline, suffered severe ‘sense of humor failure’ whilst clambering, puffing & gasping her way up agonizing seemingly 90% incline slopes to reach her fp clients! With her was Volunteer, Jorien, from Holland, and she was also being assisted by enthusiastic howls of laughter and general glee from Peter pushing ‘Her Hardship’ from behind (Peter is CHAT’s intrepid jack of all trades’ (driver/mobiliser/clerk).
Meanwhile, Mrs. Pauline Lokipi strode ahead providing her door-to-door fp/ecological sensitization services to hundreds of clients who then patiently awaited our other Nurse Pauline, “Her Hardship,” to catch up and insert mostly the longer-term contraception to those clients that chose this method.
Rose, CHAT’s project officer, and I missed out on this ‘hilarious excursion’ (depending on, of course, whose points of view you listen to!!) as we motored beyond to meet villagers around Kieni Forest. Rose did what she does best talking and sharing much needed fp & ecological awareness information with men of all ages – enormous amounts of noise accompany these meetings with much hilarity and clapping from the audience- & Rose!
CHAT’s door to door fp mobilization will continue for another 2 months in Nyadarua, being provided by local family planning community own resource persons (FPCORPs) & local nurses whom CHAT & the Ministry of Health identified. We will have been able to afford to avail free implants to at least 2,800 women in this County by the end of February. Over 900 women have chosen the implant method as of mid December already.
Our backpack strategy also continues in the slums of Nanyuki, Maralal & Isiolo, the poor communities surrounding the flower farms on the slopes of Mt Kenya, in and around the Karissia Mountains in Samburu, and numerous mobile communities throughout Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo & parts Meru and Nyeri.
DID YOU KNOW:
- Kenya’s population growth still remains one of the highest in the world and, currently, approximately 45% of the population lives below the poverty line (US $1 per day). (I personally think this is a MUCH higher percentage - In some communities where CHAT provides services, up to +90% are living below the poverty line).
- In the last 2 – 3 years, over 85% of CHAT fp clients chose the longer term contraception protection (3 – 5 yrs), often accompanied by husbands, sons, brothers and boy friends who escorted the women to the services.
CAMEL MOBILE PLANS:
We had plans to send a camel mobile out for a month starting mid November, to an area ‘forgotten and remote’- along the county boundaries of West Laikipia with Baringo County; peopled by traditional Pokot and Tugen cultures. But, we were asked by the community and government leaders to delay this, due to insecurity in the region (security forces moved in to search for carjackers). This is now scheduled to go out mid January for a month.
From January to March CHAT will be up in Laisamis District in northern Kenya providing integrated health services targeting poor communities and the trucking route which is delivering to the construction of what, in 3 years time, will be the worlds largest wind farm – above the shores of southeast Lake Turkana.
We look forward to keeping you abreast of the goings on over the next few months. In the meantime, a very happy and healthy start to 2015 to all of you, from all of us, at CHAT.