I can’t believe we are already in February! Not one day in the last month has been the same. Even though it is very warm and the travelling is tiring, I love spending most of my days at the Ogra Medical Centre, attending training sessions in the villages and visiting people in their homes. I feel very privileged to be here.
I am getting used to the slower pace of life and even the mosquitoes seem to leave me alone these days!
For the last month, my main focus has been on training and supporting Community Health Workers (CHWs) to improve the quality of the service they deliver to the community in relation to the treatment on HIV/AIDS. CHWs are trusted members of a community and they are the link between the health services (such as the medical centres) and the community. They support the community by increasing health knowledge through a range of activities such as education and home based care.
Firstly, I had to understand which areas they needed extra training/support on and what the challenges they face. I had the privilege to visit a number of people living with HIV in their homes with the CHWs and the Ogra staff. Most people in the Nyanza region live in mud huts; I was impressed how beautifully decorated and tidy the huts were. I felt touched by how welcomed they made me feel and sometimes a bit heartbroken because I could not do more for them.
A key issue is adherence to medication, especially in the case of HIV medication. We identified several barriers to adherence; lack of understanding the importance of why it is important to take your medication as prescribed was a key theme that constantly came up. And that was a good starting point!
I developed a training programme for the CHWs on Adherence to HIV/AIDS treatment. My main goal was to create something practical, stimulating and inexpensive that would work for people of different levels of literacy. The materials I use are pictorially based, fun and most important, relevant to their life experience. I really enjoyed developing the programme and getting input from Ogra and other health care workers. We’ve made a great start.
So far I’ve trained around 60 CHWs… only 390 to go! Here I am in of one the training session
The sessions are very interactive and best of all, I don’t use any PowerPoint slides! The CHWs are very keen to participate and I am impressed by their eagerness to learn. The next step will be to follow up on the training, expand the training to cover other topics and to work with the Ogra Foundation to address other issues leading to non-adherence.
On weekends, we are exploring Kenya. There are so many beautiful places to see and we are meeting very interesting people along the way. After some ‘Kenya driving lessons’ I can now drive us around. It is quite an experience! I have to watch out for pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, taxis, busses, speed bumps, pot holes and even cows!
We’ve visited a few places around Kisumu like Homa Bay (an area right next to Lake Victoria) – where we hiked up the Homa Hills, Rusinga island (on Lake Victoria) – where we visited fishing villages and last weekend we went to Kakamega rain forest – where we hiked (again!) to a river where we took a well earned dip!
And in case you are wondering……yes, the sun shines on most days! We are however approaching rainy season and I did not bring my Wellies!
In my next blog I’ll update you on our income generated project at an orphan feeding centre….called ‘Operation dairy farm’….and our trip to Uganda!