In September, a delegation of British Members of Parliament and political influencers traveled with ONE to Kenya to learn firsthand about the progress made and remaining gaps in the country’s development programs. In addition to meeting local activists, healthcare providers, teachers, and volunteers working to end extreme poverty, the group gained real insight and new information that will prove invaluable in the fight to defend British investment in overseas aid. Take a look at just a few of the inspiring photographs from the trip! (All photos by Jonx Pillemer.)
With support from UNICEF and DFID, a new maternity wing is now open at Makuru Health Centre, a community health facility located in the informal settlement (or slum, as the residents usually call it) of Makuru, where there are high rates of unemployment and extreme poverty.
The maternity wing building sat dormant for years, but community action and support from local politicians persuaded the Kenyan government to invest in developing the site so that the community could access maternal health services. Now there is a safe place for mothers to deliver their babies!
Makuru Health Centre offers antenatal visits, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, medications to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to their unborn babies, and childhood vaccinations—all free of charge to the patients!
The Ute Wema Primary school is a low fee private school that also serves the Makuru community in Nairobi. Around 300 children between ages 3 and 14 attend the school.
The school is in desperate need of refurbishment, with classrooms bursting at the seams—but despite the very poor condition of the building, the children are excited to learn.
In addition to assisting with school fees, DFID works with USAID to fund a program called TUSOME (meaning “Let’s Read”). Teachers follow the program on their specially designed tablets to teach children both English and Kiswahili. As well as offering real-time instruction to pupils, the tablets collect data to track the progress of the children’s reading competency across all of Kenya!
DFID intends to help the Utu Wema primary school to build a kitchen and to develop a student lunch program so that the children get a nutritious meal each day. The teachers also want to initiate a “What’s Next” program for its graduates to help them find employment or continued education opportunities.
In another nearby informal settlement of Nairobi called Kibera, the delegation visited the St. Mary’s Health Centre. This facility was smaller than the center in Makuru, but it provides similar maternal health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is supported by Population Services International in Kenya.
Something unique about St. Mary’s Health Centre is that it has its own onsite laboratory. This allows patients to receive lab tests and results quickly and at a discounted cost at the facility, rather than being referred to a hospital.
The delegation traveled a few hours outside of Nairobi to a rural community in Nakuru County to meet Mary and her family. Mary shared her story about her HIV diagnosis during pregnancy and how—with the encouragement from her community health volunteer, Grace—she was supported both to accept her diagnosis and to access local health services to ensure her children were born free of HIV.
Her three children are all happy, healthy, and HIV free! Mary now has a very positive outlook on life and is grateful to be able to access life-saving anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and live a fairly normal life because of them.
Also in Nakuru, the group learned about HIV prevention work targeting people in the local community who are most at risk of contracting the virus. They visited a busy “hot-spot” for commercial sex workers and toured a mobile outreach clinic run by the Kenya Red Cross. The mobile clinic provides on-site services including cervical screenings, other testing, and condom distribution.
These are the offices of Well Told Story in Nairobi, a private sector organization that receives funding from DFID and USAID—as well as support from other private sector organizations—to engage teenagers and young adults about entrepreneurship, civil rights, sexual health, and youth empowerment—all through comic book characters.
Their approach challenges the conventional methods used to achieve behavioral change in young people by trying to understand their views, perceptions, and experiences in everyday life. The characters in the comic, Shujaaz, talk in street slang and young people can chat with the characters on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. Pretty cool!
The final stop was the University of Nairobi. A group of students from departments ranging from political science to communication shared their own thoughts, hopes, and aspirations about the Global Goals. Students made the case for which goals where most important to them as young people in Kenya, and were interested to learn about young people in the United Kingdom.
Learn more about the Global Goals, then become a ONE member to join us in our fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease!