This month, the Ekialo Kiona Center received its fourth shipment of 375 mountain bicycles from our partner Bicycles for Humanity-Colorado. After 3 months of transit and 6 months clearing the onerous port of Mombasa, the bikes finally arrived on Mfangano shores! For the past 4 years bicycles have been used to incentive residents to learn their HIV status. Check out this cool video by B4H about how they are used for social impact. In 2017, the Ekialo Kiona Center will use the fourth shipment not only to improve knowledge of HIV but to generate sustainable, in-country revenue for the organization. EK Staff will use the shipping container and turn it into a retro satellite bike shop on Kenya’s mainland.
Though HIV testing will not be required to purchase these bicycles (as it is at the Ekialo Kiona Center), this shipment will be sold at full retail price. Revenue generated will put our Kenyan staff in charge of owning and generating in-country revenue to support services at the Ekialo Kiona Center. Moving forward, bike shipments will be split between making social impact on Mfangano through HIV testing, and generating income through our satellite shop for our center.
Next time you travel through Mbita, Kenya, stop at our new bike shop!
In May, 2,500 native tree seedlings were distributed during the rains to kanyakla groups across the island, in efforts to reforest Mfangano. Every tree was followed up during group kanyakla sessions, after 2 weeks and 4 months. Our philosophy doesn’t stop just at planting. Community members are educated on planting and care instructions as well as the social, environmental and financial value of trees, specifically those native, on the Mfangano community health ecosystem. Plant now – harvest in the future! Community members learn about different types of trees and ways to financial invest now to pay for school fees and health care costs in the future.
During the distribution of seedlings in May, EK Reforestation Officer, Nicholas Olambo, pointed to the hillsides of Mfangano. “They are now green. It is difficult to find someone clear cutting up on those steep slopes. Our message is getting out and people keep coming back for more trees. As soon as it rains, you hear, Olambo where can I get more tree seedlings!?. Those who are planting up high are now examples of what not to do. They are being reported and we are working with the government to ensure consequences are given. At the same time we must find other activities for them to do. It is difficult. But we are going somewhere.”
Nicholas Olambo along with EK Nutritionist Niva Ligawa will follow-up with each tree. Together they are also identifying talented farmers in the area to serve as peer mentors to other farmers in their region. Their goal is to create a network of peers on Mfangano, create awareness around the importance of re-foresting our hillsides while creating sustainable farming practices around the lake. Together, we are making Mfangano green again!
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.
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!
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 board the EK Emergency boat (the only 24/7 emergency transportation option on the island), for the official launch into Lake Victoria!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
– 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!
Check out the recent blog post on the University of Minnesota Family Medicine and Community health blog – “From the clinic to the community: health care on the front lines.” This post highlights OHR’s founder, Chas Salmen, and his work in family medicine and community health on Mfangano.
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!
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!
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.