Group Cohesion, HIV Stigma and Care and Treatment

How do we overcome stigma? How do we ensure we all know our status? How can we better care for one another? With support from Microclinics International, the Segal Family Foundation and our supporters around the world, Organic Health Response is exploring these exact questions through our Kanyakla Program.

On Mfangano Island, deep stigma of HIV remains a major obstacle to accessing and remaining in care and treatment for island residents. Even though community members today will say HIV stigma on the island is nowhere near where it was 10 years ago, it continues to block open discussions, effective actions and community solidarity towards reducing the overwhelming rates of HIV – 30% around the lake shores, almost five times higher than the national average.

By the end of July over 450 community members will have disclosed their HIV status to their self-chosen teammates through OHR’s Kanyakla Program. The word for “team” in the local Dhuluo language, “kanyakla” works by organizing small groups of 5-15 people – neighbors, friends, church members, futbol teams – and supporting them through an 8-session curriculum on HIV to better their own health and the health of their kanyakla group. After learning together, each group will take a collective leap of faith in the strength of their commitment to one another and will participate in a group HIV status disclosure session. By being a fully transparent about one another’s HIV status, these groups will become a powerful platform for helping support those who are in need of HIV treatment.

The kanyakla program was rigorously tested during a pilot study from 2011 to 2013 (read the results in this scientific publication). During this evaluation we determined that the intervention reduced drop out of HIV care by 50%. A full randomized control trial (RCT) is currently underway to assess the impact of the kanyakla intervention on improved HIV treatment literacy, retained engagement in HIV care and treatment, reduced stigma and better social support from the community.

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Health Navigators Launch in Mfangano South!

This past Wednesday, OHR-EK launched our Health Navigation and Emergency Response Program from Mfangano East to include Mfangano South sub-location.

Health Navigators from both Mfangano East and South sub locations!

Health Navigators from both Mfangano East and South sub locations!

The Health Navigation Program aims to improve maternal and child health and reduce critical delays in emergency care through the establishment of a first responder and care coordination network. Together we train a cadre of community health workers to serve as “Health Navigators” for their communities, responding to health crises with basic first aid, coordination of local transport on our fleet of motorbikes & emergency boat, and facilitation of clear communication between the patient and provider, ensuring that each patient understands the severity of the illness and the potential care pathways. In addition, each Health Navigator helps pregnant women in their catchment areas develop a birth plan, to reduce the financial and socio-cultural barriers to accessing skilled care during labor and birth.

The launching ceremony was held in Ugina (Mfangano-South sub-location). During the ceremony, 10 newly trained Health Navigators from Mfangano South were introduced, and the Ministry of Health, along with community elders, and local health partners shared words of encouragement and collaboration. Today, the Health Navigator Program serves 2 sub-locations on Mfangano Island, with 20 Health Navigators trained in total.

Health Navigators role play a health emergency in the community, showing how the care coordination is activated between a motorbike and the clinic.

Health Navigators role play a health emergency in the community, showing how the care coordination is activated between a motorbike and the clinic.

Health Navigators board the EK Emergency boat (the only 24/7 emergency transportation option on the island), for the official launch into Lake Victoria!

Health Navigators board the EK Emergency boat (the only 24/7 emergency transportation option on the island), for the official launch into Lake Victoria!

Suba Voice, Amplified!

The great Suba ancestors once used a drum to communicate across the rough waters of Lake Victoria. After multiple setbacks and hoops with the Government of Kenya, the Suba people of Mfangano can now hear their voice, although modernized, amplified across the lake. Last week, EK Youth Radio (EK-FM 88.3)
received its official frequency license! With a fully regulated radio open for broadcast, your support just got amplified! We could not be more proud to have supporters like you, because without your donations, in-kind equipment, and volunteer hours, we could not create such an invaluable resource for community empowerment and solidarity, education, and global connection! Big thanks for EK Director Richard Magerenge and Radio Coorindator Samwel Karan for making the tireless journeys back and forth to Nairobi to make this possible!

This East African Magazine article highlights EK Radio and the impact on Suba culture.

This East African Magazine article highlights EK Radio and the impact on Suba culture.

Have extra radio and IT equipment and not sure what to do with it? Donate it to EK Radio! We are in search of studio production equipment such as microphones, bases, mixers, and other things such as USB flash drives, laptops, and voice recorders among many other things.

Email khines [at] organichealthresponse [dot] org to learn what to donate and how!

Executive Director & Intern Positions Open!

Interested in working with a young and growing nonprofit? The Organic Health Response has new opportunities for passionate and motivated individuals to join our team!

Executive Director

The Organic Health Response is seeking a dynamic, enthusiastic Executive Director committed to the growth of a young nonprofit organization. The Executive Director will serve as the organization’s leader, working directly with the Board of Directors to ensure our strategic goals are achieved, and the necessary funding is available to meet our set mission and vision. The Executive Director serves as the primary liaison between the OHR Board and the Ekialo Kiona leadership team, and provides capacity building support to ensure the Ekialo Kiona Center has the resources and skills needed to manage our rapidly growing programs. Other primary responsibilities include the development and implementation of OHR’s fundraising strategy, financial management of the organization, and increasing the organization’s profile both in Kenya and in the United States.

We seek an ED who is interested in growing with our organization as a leader in our future progress. The ideal candidate has an aligned vision with the organization’s mission and experience in international development, nonprofit management, and fundraising skills to support the organization’s expanding impact. We seek an individual with strong communication and leadership skills who is excited about working in a team setting.

2016 Development Intern

OHR is seeking a highly detailed-oriented and motivated Development Intern to oversee the successful implementation of the 2016 Fund Development Plan. This position will support the Director of Operations and Fund Development Committee to ensure the strategic goals outlined in the plan are underway and in-line with the set timeline.

Key Responsibilities
- Provide oversight and management of the 2016 Fund Development Plan calendar
- Track progress and accomplishment of strategic goals
- Create individualized development plans with board and committee members and ensure each member is able to successfully complete their development activities by proposed timeline
- Responsible for scheduling Fund Development Committee Meetings
- Collaborate with the development team to create a culture of philanthropy within the organization
- Other activities may include: donor engagement and stewardship management, foundation, corporate giving and individual prospect research, grant writing, special event support, and donor database research.

Check out our full listing of opportunities and how to apply!

Two Mfangano Students Awarded Scholarships by Kenya Education Fund

This year 2 students from the Mfangano community have been chosen among an enormous applicant pool of 3,700 students to receive a full-tuition scholarship by the Kenya Education Fund (KEF). At the beginning of February these students had the chance to travel to Nairobi, to attend the awards ceremony. Such a trip, so far away, is life changing for many students coming from the island.

2016 KEF scholar awards

A big thanks to KEF for their support, as well as the entire OHR-EK team who made this application process accessible and possible. Each year OHR-EK partners distributes applications to the entire community, walks candidates through the requirements and application process, ensures each application is complete, and transports the applications back to Nairobi. It’s a lot of work, and completely worth it! For the remaining part of the year, our staff will check-in with students to make sure they are maintaining their grades and helps them to trouble shoot any areas that may be a struggle.

We are excited to support the next generation on Mfangano!

EKFM Blogs again for Craigconnects!

Check out EK Radio’s recent blog post for Craig Newmark’s blog, Craigconnects! Our radio team has been sharing stories on Craigconnects for the past two years. What an amazing opportunity!

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Wan Kanyakla (We Are Together) : Community Transformations in Kenya following a Social Network Intervention for HIV Care

Participants in our pilot kanyakla program report improved HIV treatment literacy, reduced stigma, a better environment to disclose HIV status, and better support from their communities as a result of their participation in a kanyakla.

We are working hard to extend these important community impacts in our kanyakla expansion, reaching the rest of Mfangano Island, as well as Remba and Ringiti Islands, forming hundreds of new kanyaklas around HIV patients and serving thousands more in the Lake Victoria region.

Read more in an article published in Social Science & Medicine.

 

OHR Announces #WorldAIDSDay – #GivingTuesday Campaign!

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This year, OHR will kick off a year-end campaign focused around charitable giving and OHR’s origins in the fight against HIV. Tuesday, December 1st marks not only our annual celebration of World AIDS Day, but it happens to also fall on the global giving day called Giving Tuesday. #GivingTuesday is a social media phenomenom focused on bringing giving back to the holiday season. This year, thousands of nonprofits will join the #GivingTuesday movement, and ring in support before the year-end.

OHR’s World AIDS Day-Giving Tuesday Campaign will be packed with multiple ways for supports to engage and participate. Our goal is to increase OHR’s online presence and get more folks to participate, specifically within the 24 hour period of #GivingTuesday on December 1st. We will also drum up support for those working hard in our communities of Mfangano – our fabulous Community Health Workers (CHWs)! Look out for personal stories, pictures.. and even send in a message of support to be read aloud during our World AIDS Day celebration on the island.

Call to action

Go ahead and “like” our Facebook page to stay tuned for campaign details and ways to give.

The positive, creative power that emerges with idea sharing

Thanks to the Segal Family Foundation, and their Active Partnership Learning Visit Program, we had the privilege to host fellow Segal grantees, Rafiki wa Maendeleo Trust at the Ekialo Kiona Center. As community-rooted organizations, both OHR and Rafiki wa Maendeleo Trust were able to share ideas during the visit. What an amazing opportunity!

Check out the guest blog on the Huffington Post, by Michelle Ostertag, co-founder and director of Rafiki wa Maendeleo Trust!

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