Susan is a dynamic community minded woman and has been partnering with CHAT as a family planning mobiliser for over ten years. Born and brought up in a remote Samburu community, Lodonokwe, and a mother of four children, she goes on to add “When I met CHAT then, I was not aware of family planning (FP) as I was born and brought up in a “Catholic environment”. CHAT provided me with access to an innovative FP training containing a strong component of ecological awareness – this was facilitated by another partner of CHAT’s, the GoK – so, together with about 14 other mobilizers from 7 different counties I was introduced to FP services. I tried for myself using Depo-Provera - an injectable contraceptive protection method that provides 3 months protection, for the first few months before changing to a long term method, a 5 year Implants; the benefits of this for me as a Samburu women was profound – henceforth, I became eager to educate other women in the neighboring communities and sub-counties about these methods”.
To meet her targets Susan is guided by the performance based MOU she has with CHAT, she has a schedule to visit the communities she serves, and an activity guide. “After meeting with the locum nurse to make a plan for the nurse to assist with the technical work, I visit the communities to mobilize about fp/ecological awareness and TB.”
I live and work in a usually hot, dry environment that is experiencing an alarmingly rate of land degradation. “ I see no more grassland – just dust and stones due to our overstocking - water shortages are being experienced today more than ever before”. Susan will trek through this to reach these communities, many of whom still practice a very traditional nomadic life styles. Some of these practices are harmful, especially to a girl or woman “My tribe experience many unwanted pregnancies that often result in harmful abortions, and many are even desperate enough to commit infanticide – however, I KNOW, that if my people could access contraception, this horrific suffering can end….our whole quality of life would begin to change for the better - and I am eager to inform others that there is a ‘ choice’ – they do not have to bare all this suffering….but many of us poor and marginalised Kenyans still are challenged with not having access to FP services”.
With access to FP which is enriched with environmental sustainability knowledge being the major drive towards a health community, Susan creates awareness of the importance of a sustainable population - also explaining about the positive improved impact to their ecosystems as a result -emphasis is put on how each species needs the other for peaceful co-existence. “Lack of information is harmful if a community is to strive to be healthy - if our ecosystems are not in harmony, are not well taken care of, our economy will become increasingly poorer and hence, my community will continue suffering,” she explains.
She lamented, “the need of my people to plan their families in accordance to their available natural resources is urgent - such as manage our land back to being grasslands – no longer accept a future of dust bowls, our dry river beds to trickling streams, our eroded mountainsides to forested slopes – I dream and pray for us to return – of a sustainable life – accessing FP services provides the foundation to this recovery – without this basis we will just continue to destroy ourselves and all around us”
It was a pleasantly sunny afternoon for the motor mobile clinic when it arrived in Kirimon. Kirimon is a small community in Laikipia north. CHAT’s nurse, Pauline, was working away under a tree, waving down everybody she saw as she waited for Susan, a community own resource persons (CORP) who does family planning/ecological awareness mobilization with CHAT. Susan came back much sooner than usual from doing her door to door family planning & TB mobilization. She was being ‘hauled’ back to the clinic by a very enthusiastic client - a lady named Naishoree.
Naishoree sat beside Nurse Pauline looking very comfortable; it seemed like she had already made a decision with the information she had soaked in from Susan on their way to the clinic under the tree. She explained that she is a mother to 10 children, for a 32 year old woman this does seem like quite a burden, for any woman really! Susan said that she had met Naishoree in the village, she was going to World Vision (an NGO) to request for some goods. She simply cannot afford to purchase enough food for all her children nor does she have the strength, land let alone time to plant a substantial garden. Naishoree took Susan’s arm almost immediately the moment Susan mentioned family planning and dragged to Nurse Pauline.
She quietly listened as Nurse Pauline explained the various methods of contraception at length, Naishoree seemed to dismiss the shorter term methods without much thought. Eventually she said to Pauline that she doesn’t want any more children and she would like something that will stop her from ever having another child again. Tubal ligation was mentioned and that seemed to spark an interest in Naishoree’s eye but once she had understood what the procedure entails she said that she’d rather go for the 5 year contraception protection method.
During the five minute insertion procedure Naishoree told Pauline that if she knew about family planning before she would have only had five children, she would have done a lot of things differently and maybe her life would have been different. Once she was all plastered up she got up and admired her arm and she said that she will tell everyone about the importance of family planning. She took Pauline by the hand and shook her hand so vigorously that her pen fell out her front pocket.
Naishoree is so very grateful for the services CHAT provides. “…these services wouldn’t be possible without your help, thank you.”
** NB names have been changed to protect individuals, all stories have been approed by each individual before posting.
The day starts before the birds do, there is still mist outside, the grass is cold and wet with dew, it’s time to start packing and set off for the next community. All that is heard is the zipping up of tents and bags. A metal pot is nestled on a small gas stove, a hot cup of sweet tea is all that is needed to keep the “wolves away” in the early morning. Once finished, Nurse Pauline with Peter, CHAT’s driver, pile into the yellow land rover and make their way to their next community, this could be as close as 50km or as far as 150 km or more usually following off road tracks and trails.
It’s a long drive, the team is always relieved to arrive at the next community. The fun doesn’t stop yet! First in order is to find a good place to set up the simple clinic for the day. This can be from setting up the treatment tables under a big shady tree (shade-less depending on the weather) to finding empty classrooms or kiosks big enough to fit in everything including Pauline herself and a patient. They begin unpacking the medicine and set up the two rickety metal tables, Peter sets up the tent nearby for private services.
Not only is Peter CHAT’s driver, he is an excellent mobiliser. Pauline won’t be seeing him for a while, which is just fine as Susan, Community Own Resource Person (CORPs) had “backpacked” from her home community to mobilize here for a few days, she had come up with a number of people who needed our services; from family planning, HIV/AIDS counseling and testing (HCT), TB information to basic curatives. Susan works alongside CHAT with a performance based MOU after CHAT facilitated her training.
Evelyn came to Pauline with her 18 year old daughter, Mary. Mary got pregnant while she was in school. She has a child who is only three months old. Mary had an accident some time ago which has left her with a problem with her leg making it difficult to do normal day to day tasks, her mother has to help her with her child and many other house hold duties daily.
Evelyn explained that she wants Mary to go back to school, the child will be cared for but they are both afraid Mary will not manage with another child on board. Nurse Pauline having listened, took the time to explain each FP method. After some time Mary decided that she wanted the 3 year implant; after receiving the implant she was excited about going back to school - she had a smile from ear to ear.
Evelyn asked Pauline for her mobile phone number so she could keep in touch with her, she hopes that Pauline will return to visit them. Mary was also given Susan’s, CHAT’s FPCORP’s number. Small displays of thanks and appreciation really make it worthwhile, even the day seems less hot!
Tummies are rumbling, when is it lunch time? The team doesn’t stop for lunch, there are patients waiting to be treated. They will wait until the evening when they have time to prepare a meal.
Before night falls they set up camp for the night. Bags come out and the same zipping noise is heard. Peter shares with Pauline that they provided services to 78 impoverished people yesterday – 96% wanted family planning ecological awareness services – 55 chose the 3 year implant method of contraception method!
Another day well spent, thank you for all your kind donations that make these ventures possible!
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:
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:
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.
Jambo from Nanyuki- the CHAT headquarters in Kenya. Life has been ticking along, and the wheels of the yellow mobile clinic continue to roll along the plains of Laikipia and Samburu, stopping to set up clinic under the shade of an acacia tree each day. Please see the attached chart, summarizing targets reached over the last three months, made possible by the support of Global Giving donors and other contributors.
Though funds have been steady enough to send out our 4X4 mobile clinic, our camel clinic has been unable to make its month long journey for the last 6 months. Costs associated with sending out the camels and crew are higher than those associated with the 4x4 vehicle. Because of this, we are endeavoring to offer more creative funding options. A company sponsorship is a wonderful and exciting opportunity to give back and involve your business and team in an exciting and unforgettable adventure, and maybe even send one or two representatives on an exciting trip of a lifetime, to document the journey.
We thank you for your continued support and will be in touch again in a few months time.
The team at CHAT.
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