Chris Khamasi - KIBISI COOPERATIVE: Fighting poverty and illiteracy

Kibisi Investment group in Bungoma County have been working with AMPATH for the last four years. The group started in late 2014 and aimed to improve the living standards of farmers in the community and eradicate illiteracy though empowerment. Then, it had just 20 members, growing now to 98! The group is still growing and have helped approximately 220 community members via their activities.  

 

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Kibisi chairman Mr. Omoit (standing) and the secretary, Mr. Wamocha (seated)

 

Kibisi have been working with AMPATH since 2015 and feel that they have gained substantially from this relationship. "We used to waste a lot of our harvest but since we started engaging with them (AMPATH), taught us post-harvest control." AMPATH have been working closely with Kibisi on several key areas including post-harvest management, storage and training across several areas.

Previously members of the Kibisi group used to lose a lot of income because they did not have an organized way of storing their produce, mainly maize. Training session conducted by AMPATH have shared best practices with the members preventing post-harvest and therefore income loses. One of the key components of good post-harvest management is access to a clean, dry, secure store. The group's major milestone so far can be said to be the construction of their store which they started building in 2016, with a completion date of 2018. The store's capacity is 10,000 bags of maize. Kibisi plan to rent out the store to farmers who wish to store their maize, generating a source of income for their members.

 

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Kibisi's store under construction 

 

Being able to store grain for periods and not sell immediately is essential for farmers who are wishing to obtain the best price for their produce. The Kibisi secretary shared with AMPATH that they have had many challenges with prices. Their work with AMPATH has opened up access to reliable buyers such as the World Food Program (WFP), removing the need to work with brokers or middle men. They are constantly receiving good prices for their maize now, an average of 3200KSH per 90kg bag. AMPATH have also helped Kibisi access superior quality seed which has been crucial in boosting productivity, strengthening yield, improving food security and increasing income.

In addition to the training on post-harvest management and maize production, Kibisi have been the recipients of training on risk management, health insurance and income protection. AMPATH have shown them the importance of building resilience and awareness with all members registering for National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover to protect them from expensive health expenditure.

The chairman, Mr. Omoit, had much praise for what they have been able to achieve, "Ampath have great men and women who have helped us," He said the group is ready to embrace dairy extensively apart from maize farming.

Kibisi cooperative is building success upon success. The goals of eradicating poverty and fighting illiteracy in Kibisi are being realized because of the initiative that these farmers took to push their cooperative forward. One of the reasons they are making steps forward is they were open to receive fresh ideas, they accepted to be trained and they were keen to learn when they were linked to Ampath. They have developed their cooperative on their own terms while applying the effective farming methods they have been trained on. Their success story is defined by willingness to learn and determination to succeed. 

Posted at 01:41

Joe Mamlin - A Tribute to Dr. Jim Greene, AMPATH Social Science Researcher

At its core, AMPATH is a partnership that creates opportunities for people to help people. To lift each other up. To inspire each other to do more. And to walk farther together. 

On March 3, 2018, the world lost Dr. Jim Greene, one of AMPATH's inspiring people who touched the lives of many. In the early 2000s, Jim served as a consultant with AMPATH, applying his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology to help AMPATH's HIV care work respond more effectively within the social and cultural fabric of communities.

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With Kenyan colleagues, Jim formed AMPATH's Social Behavioral Team, working to answer questions like: How can we assess the home-based HIV counseling and testing? Why are pregnant women not getting linked to care? Will local patients with diabetes be willing to come for care in our current AMPATH buildings? What do locals think of community health workers?

Perhaps more importantly, Jim mentored young Kenyan researchers who continue to make breakthroughs in behavioral sciences that help AMPATH better treat patients and communities. Jim's work lives on in Kenya, particularly carried on by AMPATH researchers Violet Naanyu, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Moi University School of Medicine, Rose Ayikukwei Ph.D., Researcher at Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Kenya and Juddy Wachira Ph.D., Lecturer at Ondiga University of Science and Technology.

Dr. Joe Mamlin writes:

"In 2000, Sarah Ellen and I went to Kenya to help with a second medical school for the country that some of us at IU had helped start ten years earlier. We encountered something unexpected---we were now in the epicenter of the worst pandemic in human history. Hundreds of thousands of young Kenyans were dying from HIV. We turned to Jim Greene, a cultural anthropologist who had contributed so effectively to the growth of Wishard Hospital. I asked if he could give us a hand in our work here in Kenya. As AMPATH began to grow, Jim began training young Kenyans in demonstrating the key role of behavioral sciences in guiding the evolution of a responsive care system. His three protégés, Violet, Juddy and Rose each ended up with a PhD in medical sociology and continue to carry Jim's gifts in every facet of this growing Kenyan medical center.

In early 2016, I woke up to the reality that our long journey had created components of a health system that could go far beyond HIV. Why not do it all? I attempted to put that dream down on paper and once again asked Jim if he would give me a hand and look it over. Jim painstakingly poured over every word. He re-wrote, re-arranged and clarified that dream into a document that has given birth to Population Health with Universal Health Insurance.  This is now the cornerstone of AMPATH's next journey in Kenya."

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Posted at 06:22

Beryl Maritim - Population Health Delivery Pilot in Turbo

On February 28th, 2018, the population health screening team was in Jua Kali town, Turbo Sub-county offering screening services in groups like they do every Wednesday. The team offers integrated screening for diabetes, hypertension, HIV and soon will include mental health and cancer. We visited Angaza group, a community GISHE group that meets within the market in a small temporary structure that offers the group some level of privacy and protection from weather elements. Angaza group has 22 members. On this sunny midmorning the health team prepared their equipments and booths ready to offer services to the group members and the droves of people turning up as news had spread of the arrival of AMPATH health providers. Having completed the main agenda of savings and loaning, the group settled down to receive health education and be sensitized about the national Insurance, NHIF.

 

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Lillian, a health Liaison officer employed by AMPATH, took the crowd through the benefits of NHIF and the steps to enrollment. Judging from the questions that followed her session, it was clear that a lot needs to be done to increase information about NHIF and increase uptake - a task AMPATH has taken up working with NHIF. A quick assessment of the enrollment within the group revealed a less than 2% membership amongst the people present in the gathering.

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Miriam aged 39 with three children is one of the 3 people who were still active members of NHIF. She has been a member of NHIF since 2013. Neither she nor any of her family members have been hospitalized for illness. Miriam still pays her premiums faithfully despite the fact that neither she nor any of her family members have had to use the service. She understands the benefits of health insurance and fears losing her hard earned investments to cover the high cost of treatment in case of illness or accidents. "I know many people who have had to sell their property or businesses to pay hospital bills. I work hard in my grain and miller business and I would not want to risk." Miriam is also part of a GISHE group where she and 21 other men and women save and loan to each other.

Miriam was later screened for hypertension, diabetes and HIV and while her blood pressure and RBS reading was normal, she was informed that her BMI and age puts her at a greater risk of developing hypertension or diabetes. She was counseled on how to stay healthy and reduce her risks.

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Seated next to her was Selly. Selly doesn't have NHIF insurance and hopes to enroll after the sensitization she received. She believes that her small vegetable stand can give her the returns that would enable her to enroll for NHIF. She has been a member of the GISHE group since 2017 and has seen the importance of savings. A single mother herself, she is able to put her three kids through school and provide for them. Health insurance would give her added security of knowing she is covered in the case of illness in the family. She already borrows from the group to restock her stall and plans to take a loan to pay for her NHIF premiums soon. Sheila, who runs a small salon next to Selly's vegetable stand also hopes to sign up for NHIF and is a member of the same group.

 

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The group and community members were happy to have health services and teaching brought close to them and they all benefitted from the questions other members asked in the marathon. 14 out of the 38 screened were Angaza group members. 11 people had elevated pressures and sugars and were referred to Cheramei dispensary for further investigation and treatment. AMPATH supports a monthly diabetes and hypertension clinic in Cheramei dispensary, a small level II dispensary within Jua Kali town. On that clinic day, a team of care providers from Turbo Sub County Hospital joined the nurse and clinical officer in Cheramei to offer hypertensive and diabetes care to the clients booked on that day. The facility is manned by nurses and clinical officers trained and mentored to offer chronic disease care. When the team encounters difficult cases they tele-consult with the clinical team in Turbo Sub-county Hospital. A mini revolving fund pharmacy within the facility pharmacy has been equipped with medication to manage diabetes and hypertension offering a back up to the facility pharmacy that also stocks the medication.

 

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Difficult cases are referred up to the next level health facility, Turbo Sub County Hospital to be seen by clinical officers or physicians who visit the clinic from MTRH from time to time in the reverse referral system.

 

 

 

 

Posted at 07:53

Jo Taylor - Remain vulnerable to a dream . . . Celebrate!

For more than 15 years physicians working at the AMPATH Centre have been treating patients with HIV.  They have developed education, treatment protocols, and drug regimens for pregnant women to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission during childbirth.  And, based on the data, enormous progress has been made decreasing the odds from 45% to an astonishingly low 3% likelihood of transmission. 

In the context of so much progress, it would be understandable if both healthcare workers and women themselves would simply assume that in 2018 there is a new norm - an unborn child would no longer be at risk of transmission. 

When experience matches expectations, it is possible that we miss the opportunity to be amazed. 

What was intended to be a quick stop at the Turbo AMPATH Comprehensive Care Clinic on the morning of February 2nd defied this. We arrived in the midst of a glorious celebration.  They called it a Graduation - more than 100 babies born to HIV+ mothers since 2015 have been declared HIV-Free.  These toddlers were dressed in caps and gowns.  Tents were set up to protect the revelers from midday heat.  There was face-painting, balloons, cake, and speeches.  Everyone was singing and dancing . . . the mothers, the children, the healthcare workers, the guests. 

 

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Earlier in the week Joe Mamlin challenged our group of visitors to 'remain vulnerable to a dream'.  As we remain vulnerable to new dreams, let us stay vulnerable to old dreams.  The dream of eliminating transmission of the HIV virus to a baby during birth. 

What a great example we can take from the dedicated staff at Turbo's Clinic . . . may we never become so accustomed to new standards of care that we miss the opportunity to celebrate with every mother when tests reveal that her baby is HIV-free.  

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Posted at 03:52

Odep - Growing up with HIV in Kenya

My name is Odep. I am a heartfelt individual with a keen desire to help others. My desire and passion lies with children and adolescents who have experienced hardship throughout their lives. As an individual born with HIV, who has lost many loved ones and experienced firsthand living on the streets of Eldoret, Kenya, I feel a distinct connection with what many children and adolescents are going through. I have positioned myself within the Eldoret community as a spokesperson for young adolescents living with HIV and advocate for the health and well-being of street children. I love sharing my story to anyone, anyplace, and anytime.

Currently, I am working as a volunteer peer navigator with the AMPATH-Kenya prevention department. My volunteer experiences consist of me visiting various institutions; prisons, schools, companies and streets (road shows), to share my personal story and advocate on HIV/AIDS in my hometown. Through my work as a volunteer, I have noticed a positive change in the mindset and attitude of people regarding HIV and I am very grateful and humbled that I've been fortunate enough to contribute to this.

In my mentorship work with the street children of Eldoret, I share my personal story of what it was like living on the streets as an adolescent. Personally, I feel that by sharing my story with these children they will be inspired to have more hope in their lives and try to live healthier lifestyles.

In addition to peer mentorship, I also coach the street children football club called SC FC. I am proud to say that we have participated in a numerous tournaments and finished particularly well in each of them. Not only has the team performed well, focusing on the essential tenets of teamwork and goal attainment, but also they have had so much fun competing together and this fills them with hope and laughter. It is great to see children who have experienced so much hardship enjoy themselves. This inspires me to try and give more children similar opportunities. I first handedly know what it's like to be in their position, and I want to provide something positive for them.

Many of my peers look to my fun and outgoing personality for cheering up. Through my rapping and comedic alter-ego, named Fat Prince, I perform artistic and comedic expressive words of encouragement to my peers. Fat Prince represents an outgoing adolescent in western Kenya who brings light to social issues found in our society with a comedic twist. I have found my performances as Fat Prince not only bring laughter to the group of my peers, but also instill hope through my encouragement to stay healthy, despite various social and medical challenges that we all face.

I hope that my combined efforts, as a peer mentor with AMPATH and my experience working with the street children of Eldoret, will one day break the stigma barriers and hardship associated with poverty and HIV for children and youth living in Eldoret. It is my goal to bring together my town of Eldoret and build a welcoming and understanding community. My experiences with conquering my own hardships and coming to accept my HIV status have shaped me into the young man I am today. I am proud of who I am and of what I have overcome. It is my dream to be a role model for those living with HIV and those living on the streets and provide a beacon of hope signifying that they too, can live healthy and fulfilling lives.

My future plans are to attend college and study clinical psychology or a related discipline. This education will give me the necessary knowledge to fulfill my dream of contributing to the betterment of the community that I grew up in.  I plan to do so by continuing to establish relationships with the street children of Eldoret and set an example of what they can achieve. It is my hope that I can encourage the children to pursue education and be successful and contributing persons in our community.

Odep blog

Kenyan school children.

 

 

Posted at 03:58

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