My recent trip to Kenya was an overwhelming success. I was there for 6 weeks in February and March and truly wish I could have spent more time. While in Malindi, Sophie Ndungu, (our project director and maternity nurse), Sara Mukani, (an HIV counselor and tester), and I, were able to reach 10 villages and 193 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) with comprehensive birth kits as well as training in safety in pregnancy and childbirth, nutrition, HIV prevention and testing, breastfeeding and family planning. We also held 2 free health clinics providing breast exams, cervical cancer screening and HIV testing and counseling. The many women we met with were so grateful for the much needed training and supplies, and they pleaded with us to come back and make this training continuous.
I count this trip as a success in part because the villages that we returned to this year that we had visited over a year ago, remembered much of what we taught, and many had changed their dangerous practices and have reported a drastic decrease in mortality rates. We also drew a much larger number of TBAs than the previous year because the women now know us and were very excited to meet with us again.
The dire need that we have experienced in the villages, and the women’s very positive response to our mission, has made it clear that we need to provide year round and continuous training. I still plan to return at least once a year to deliver medical/birth supplies and to monitor progress, but once or twice a year for training purposes is far from adequate. This is why we have decided to implement the next phase of this project and provide continuous education and training along with HIV testing for those who want it. Sophie Ndungu, along with her assistant/ HIV counselor, will be visiting 2 villages a month to provide education/training. We hope to be able to raise enough funding to increase to 4 villages a month in the near future. In each village we reach between 15 to 30 women who then go on to share their knowledge with others.
It is amazingly rewarding to be able to sit and learn together with these awesome groups of women. It has been wonderful to watch this project grow and develop and I am so grateful to everyone who continues to make this possible. Thank you for your support.