I have spent two days in Kenya now and I am constantly amazed by two things: how beautiful this country is and the welcoming kindness of everyone we’ve met here. I have always heard that Kenyans are some of the most generous of spirit in the world. Now I know it’s unequivocally true.
As we travel through Kenya, meet various groups and see their organization’s work the more I am convinced that when the right people come together with innovative ideas to help those in need, the more successes happen. We saw a lot of success stories today.
The day started in Lwak with the most warm reception I’ve ever witnessed in my life. When our bus pulled up we heard beautiful singing from Lwak women who welcomed us to their community with opened arms. It was so incredibly moving I had to remind myself not to cry, to simply enjoy the moment. Experiencing a welcome like that is moving beyond words.
In Lwak we heard from village reporters whose job is to record births and deaths, and to help their communities understand how to improve their overall health from using bed nets to reduce the number of malarial deaths to not drinking dirty water. The role of the village reporter is highly important as they are the ones who bring the news of how their community’s people can better care for themselves in an area that is rife with malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, pneumonia, and diarrheal disease.
We also were able to speak to a traditional birth attendant. The wisdom on her aged face and in her voice was palpable. In an area where women cannot easily get to the hospital for prenatal care women like this are vital to helping expectant women deliver healthy babies and not die in the process. She talked about using traditional herbs to stop bleeding during births and using them to turn babies around in the womb and even making the remedies herself by going out to the bush to gather herbs.
After meeting the village reporters we drove a short distance to a compound to visit an expectant mother and hear her story, but first we couldn’t talk to her without getting permission first from the head of the compound. With permission granted we spoke with a 23-year-old expecting mother about her life, the joys and challenges she faces. She has to fetch water every day and care for her family by doing the same things as us: wash clothes, make meals, clean her home, send her oldest daughter off to school, care for her youngest, and make sure she is healthy during her pregnancy. She is receiving care through a CDC program and plans to deliver her baby in the hospital like her previous two. It is the village reporters who help her get the care that she needs.
Programs like the CDC’s willlage reporters in Lwak are working and have been for decades. These programs are US funded and need to continue to be funded. You always hear about money being given to developing countries and wondering where the money goes. I witnessed where the money goes and how it has been used constructively to save lives. Everywhere we went today people perpetually asked us to do one thing: take their stories back to America and that’s what I intend to do.
Daily Action: Today we are meeting with teachers and students in Nairobi. WatchONE’s video “Chieftainess” about a remarkable woman who is teaching her community about the importance of education. Then share the video with your friends and leave a comment.