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Since our last newsletter in April our work continues apace. Over the summer our partners have been busy running mobile clinics in different rural communities. These clinics are particularly appreciated at this time by local communities due to a country-wide nurses' strike.

News from Mount Kenya Trust

CHASE Africa partner, Mount Kenya Trust, has produced a superb new video that shows all of the different aspects of their work. There are some stunning visuals, but more important is the story that is told. In terms of MKT's family planning and clinic work they have a wonderful slogan - My Family, My Health, My Environment.

From one of their recent clinics in Embu comes this story from Mary, she writes:
“I have worked with MKT for 15 years as a member and a leader of one of the tree planting women’s groups. I was approached by an MKT official to join in and be trained as a Community Health Worker particularly focusing on family planning. I didn’t quite understand how family planning and conservation related. After training I got to fully understand the logic between sustainable families and conservation.

The first step I took was to educate the 100 women in my group on benefits of family planning and having a manageable family. Most women joined in the group to supplement what they get from the group with farming so they could educate, feed and raise their children. In my community women are the biggest contributors to the source of family income. Women farm, pick tea and manage most income generating resources.

With manageable families these hardworking women will be able not only raise and feed their kids but also have spare income to improve their lifestyle. To be an example I received an IUCD (intrauterine contraceptive device) during one of our outreaches. I feel empowered and I can confidently educate women and men on family planning and conservation. I believe that all the effort we are making will finally pay off. Where we will have an economically empowered society and a healthy forest altogether.”

News from Community Health Volunteers

We’ve had news from Gabriel Musundi, founder and CEO of Community Health Volunteers – CHASE Africa’s partner based in Kakamega, western Kenya.

There is an ongoing nurses’ strike in Kenya over pay and conditions that is affecting health services across the country. The current iteration of the strike began at the beginning of June, though there have been strikes going on for over a year now.

Lack of the availability of nursing staff has put increasing pressure on CHV’s mobile clinics – however, Gabriel is upbeat about the extra work that has come their way. A recent clinic in the village of Shimakondi near Kakamega was attended by 2,790 people – typically a clinic would expect to see between 600 and 1,400 people.

Of those 2,790 people, 298 women came for family planning services and commodities – this is a remarkable number.

Gabriel and his team are doing superb work reaching out to those who need their help during difficult times for the Kenyan health service.

Experiencing Africa

Steve Bown, CHASE Ambassador, has a long-standing interest in the work of Dandelion Africa. With his help two final year medical students from University College London recently experienced the joys and difficulties of working with poor and disadvantaged communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Zenab China joined Wendo Aszed for a Dandelion Africa outreach clinic in a rural area near Nakuru in Kenya. She wrote “The set up was very effective and efficient, offering general medical care, HIV screening, baby care and family planning, with a street party atmosphere for the children. I spent the morning on general consultations and the afternoon in helping with cervical cancer screening. I was inspired by how simple the procedure was. Two patients, age 27 and 45, had abnormal findings that afternoon”.

She continued: “This was my first experience of an outreach clinic in such a marginalised community. It was a hugely insightful day and I have come away with greater awareness about family planning, and providing simple but effective medicine.”

Simon Braithwaite spent his elective in Matata, Swaziland. Seeing the effects of a lack of access to family planning and the high incidence of HIV in the country prompted him to work with a local community nurse to create a basic sexual education programme for local secondary schools. Simon explains: “One particular patient I shall not forget. A young woman, no older than me, presented to the clinic with complications following a miscarriage. At age 25 she had already had six pregnancies, including several miscarriages. By Swazi standards, she had a high standard of education and was one of the best English speakers I encountered in my time in the country. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking how much she would have benefited from a better sexual education and a greater understanding of contraceptives and the risks of pregnancy.”

Running Simon’s education programme has already been taken on by the community nurse and the long term plan is that it will become a peer run project in and around Matata. Simon is hopeful that “this education programme will receive good feedback and can begin to make a difference to HIV transmission rates and improve family planning within the area”.

Programmes such as Simon’s are a vital part of the work required to make sure that communities know about the options available to them, and go a long way to breaking down barriers and dispelling myths about family planning. Being able to share such resources with our partners is also an important part of CHASE Africa's work as one of our aims is to work with them to de develop and grow the services that they offer in response to the needs that they identify in the course of their work.

Final Call...

We wanted to send out a quick message as a reminder that our annual report is now available. You can download it as a PDF from our website or read it online. The report is a great way to get an overview of CHASE Africa's work and the progress that each of our partners is making in their respective areas.
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