When our team first started working in Kibera, we set out a clear goal – to increase the quality of life in the slums through targeted training and education. We quickly saw that healthcare training was a fundamental part of this. Diseases like typhoid, cholera and malaria affect unprecedented amounts of people in Kibera; while high rates of unplanned pregnancies and STI’s remain rife.
So, we set up Community Healthcare (CHC) training to equip Kibera residents with the knowledge and skills they need to be voluntary health workers in their area.
Delivered twice annually by medical professionals from the UK, training covers whatever delegates feel is important – from basic hygiene to infectious diseases, sexual health, pregnancy and mental illnesses. Participants receive three days of training followed by a presentation of certificates. Then, they teach what they have learned to others – either through formal training sessions or informal door-to-door calls. Many of them simply share what they’ve learned with friends, family and neighbours.
As we always emphasise to participants, we don’t have an answer for everything. Let alone a solution to the health, social and personal difficulties Kibera residents face on a daily basis. What we can offer is information and constructive advice that’s applicable to the medical care and resources available to them. Like all NGO works on the Kibera slums, our work efforts will never change the lives of all its residents. But if we can improve things for just a small percentage, then it’s worth it.
Irene Hendley leads the community healthcare work and has the next highest number of Kibera trips to her name. Now retired, Irene had a long and successful career as a midwife and is therefore well qualified to lead our healthcare programme. Irene lives in Bury St Edmunds, where amongst other things she is a volunteer manager of a charity shop.