Kenya has long been a venue for many of AMURT’s service projects over the years, but new challenges continue to affect millions of residents. Education, healthcare, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, job creation, and care for orphans and vulnerable children have all been areas of emphasis and continue to be a large part of AMURT’s presence in Kenya.
JAMII BORA: leading by example
Iddi Leatiya and his wife, Damaison, received us graciously at their home five kilometres from Wamba town. They were eager to discuss the impact of AMURT’s Jamii Bora program on their family.
Emmanuel, their first son, was born at home as was the tradition amongst the Samburu people. However, there were some complications with that birth, which caused Iddi and his wife a lot of stress. They were therefore receptive to the message of the AMURT-trained community health workers (CHWs): delivery at the health facility is the safest way to bring a new child into the world.
Hence, when she was pregnant with Isaac, her second son, Damaison went to the Wamba health facility for four ante-natal clinics, and was accompanied by her husband to the maternity wing for Isaac’s birth.
According to Christine Orre, one of the nurses at the Wamba health facility, the story of Iddi and Damaison is not an isolated one. Other men are beginning to encourage their wives to use the health facility for both antenatal clinics and delivery. The table below, drawing data from Wamba health facility records, shows a 32% increase in antenatal visits from 2013 to 2014. And by mid-2015 there was a 20% increase in antenatal visits compared to the same period in 2014.
Nurse Orre credits this improvement, as well as the increase in health facility births (from 1 to between 4 and 10 a month), to both the continuous sensitization of the community by the CHWs and the modernizing of the maternity department by AMURT. Word has gone around the Samburu community that the government-run Wamba health facility (which is free) has better equipment than the Catholic Mission (which is expensive).
The CHWs are the extension of the health facility into the community. They visit women of childbearing age in their homes; participate in Community Dialogue Days, held quarterly; educate fathers during their support group meetings; and monitor the government WASH program. Now that AMURT has built their capacity, the CHWs are sustainable resources for the community.
Damaison smiled when we asked her how she was treated at the health facility. “They received me well,” she said, “And they used the new equipment. I told other women that delivery at the facility is risk-free, compared to a home delivery.”
Iddi also smiled. He is the chairman of the village and has been encouraging the other men to advise their wives to deliver at the health facility. He gives them the phone number of AMURT’s project coordinator who then calls the ambulance.