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.
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!
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.
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.
Go ahead and “like” our Facebook page to stay tuned for campaign details and ways to give.
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!
What is the role of an architect in a place where the profession doesn’t even exist? Jonathan Dessi-Olive explores this question as he shares his experience building a radio studio on a remote island in Lake Victoria with a team of architecture graduate students and local craftsmen. Working with them, he combined local practices with an academic research agenda to build a community structure.
The Ekialo Kiona Emergency Boat gets a new shade to protect patients from the intense sun and dangerous waves.
From the island itself, here is an update – written by Health Navigation Coordinator, Peres Okinyi, and EK Boat Captain, Walter Opiyo:
The HN program has greatly changed and improved the health logistics and coordination of good care to community members of Mfangano Island. All is well with our team, and with the Health Navigators (HNs) that represent the various villages around the island. Though we have been faced with challenges due to weather changes, with big waves, rains and strong winds, the E-boat transfers to mainland facilities have been successful with safe driving.
The communities and villages are very happy with the program and ready to support it fully. Many of our pregnant mothers are now well coordinated with facilities on Antenatal Care, and Birth plans are coordinated up to the day of delivery with facilities. Most of the birth complications within our mothers are now low, since our team of HNs are trained to identify such cases and call for help to hospital. A large majority of pregnant mothers in Mfangano East are planning for there birth, both financially and where to give birth.
Through our marketing efforts, visits to the facilities both in mainland and island, relationship building with facility staff and management, our work as Health Navigators comes easy during emergencies both day and night. There has been good coordination on care with our teams, both from USA and Kenya, and in future we hope that under good leadership and management things will continue to improve.
We really appreciate the team for the good work through supply donations, funds, health talks, and training. The whole Mfangano Island communities and facilities are so happy with the E – Boat transfers and the idea of constructing it to help people during day or night emergency transportation to mainland hospitals. Ero Kamano (thank you)!!
This past month, OHR has officially begun one of our biggest program expansions to date! Years in the making, our team on Mfangano has now begun identifying patients at local clinics who might benefit from additional support help stay on life-sustaining HIV treatment. Over the coming months, our team will help organize nearly 400 patients – and their self-identified social networks – into health teams called kanyaklas. In total, three to four thousand people will participate in a kanyakla (or microclinic) over the next two years on Mfangano and neighboring Ringiti and Remba islands.
Kanyakla groups will learn together about HIV and how they can collectively promote one another’s health. Groups will go through a series of structured discussion sessions, complete with role-plays and team building activities. These sessions will be led by local community health workers using beautiful new curriculum materials developed in conjunction with Mango Tree, a Ugandan design firm. 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 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 microclinic program was rigorously tested during a pilot study from 2011 to 2013 (see scientific publication of our results). During that evaluation, we determined that the intervention reduced drop out from HIV care by 50%. Simple interventions with this degree of effect have potential for tremendous impact in a region where up to one third of patients starting HIV therapy drop out of care within the first two years. We aim to leverage the powerful forces of social ties to make health ‘contagious’ across social networks, throughout communities, and across the wider region.
Applications are now open to receive a USAID Research & Innovation Fellowship through the Organic Health Response. This unique opportunity will allow an enthusiastic student to join our team and spend 6-12 months on Mfangano Island!
We offer a unique opportunity to participate in the evaluation and refinement of a nutrition intervention that uses a novel social network approach to treat whole social networks affected by maternal and child malnutrition. A fellow will participate in a case-control study on nutrition behaviors, nutrition knowledge assessment, and focus groups on pathways of effectiveness. Further, a fellow will contribute directly to the planned expansion of the intervention, providing recommendations for how best to scale, improve, and evaluate the program.