The Research on Environmental and Community Health (RECH) Study is designed to understand the links between the health of people and their environment. Rech means ‘fish’ in Dholuo, and belies the focus of this research on the role that fish access plays in livelihoods, food security, and the health of young children on Mfangano.
To understand the links between fish catch and people’s health and well-being, we began working with over 300 households on Mfangano and 19 Beach Management Units in December 2012. For over two years since then, we visited these households every 3 months to learn about their fishing and farming activities, fish consumption, and growth and cognitive development of their young children. At the same time, we worked with local Beach Management Units (fishery co-managers and fish landing sites) to collect daily data on fish catch, prices, and fishing effort. We are excited to be completing the data collection for this study and tremendously grateful to the Mfangano families and fishers and OHR staff who supported this effort!
This research has already informed OHR’s programming, especially the Microclinics’ Nutrition Curriculum, support for malnutrition referrals and distribution of food supplements, and developing Food Security programming. We look forward to continuing to learn from this data and expanding our services on Mfangano – as well as contributing to our broader understanding of how environmental health affects human health, around Lake Victoria and beyond.
This research study is led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Please find out more about the initial results of our work on our Publications page and look for more results coming soon! Please feel free to be in touch with Katie Fiorella (kfiorella[@]organichealthresponse.org) for more information.
As our organization grows, we are excited to bring on a new Executive Director to lead our efforts. The Executive Director job description and application instructions are on the Executive Director Position page. We welcome any questions to Kelsi Hines at khines[@]organichealthresponse.org.
OHR is seeking a dynamic, enthusiastic Executive Director committed to our mission of strengthening the health, resilience and voice of the greater Mfangano Island Community. 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, operational and program management, and fundraising skills to support the organization’s expanding impact.
If this sounds like you, or someone you know, check out the job opening and send us your application! We are accepting applications through June 15, 2015.
The Post Independent out of Glenwood Springs, CO, ran an article last week about our health navigation and emergency response program in Kenya:
What a difference a year can make. Early last year, we received this message from our friend Walter Opiyo, the emergency boat captain on Mfangano Island, Kenya:
26, Jan, 2014:
“It was around midnight the father called me for assistance, that his wife was feeling labor pain and I was worried due to the condition of the boat. So I called back to inform him to come down to the beach immediately. Imagine it was raining and the lake was wavy with strong winds. Therefore I decided to grab the boat very fast, since the situation was growing more worse that I could not wait long, the baby was almost coming out and Eve (the wife) was restless and weak due to pain.
Read the entire article here…
Our First Scholar Makes us Proud!
Last year saw our first batch of scholars sit their KCSE exams. On Tuesday this week, we all anxiously awaited their results after the Ministry of Education finally released the same.
As she had promised the scholarship committee in a meeting early last year, Sallah Beryll kept her promise by scoring B- (Minus) with very strong points to guarantee herself a slot for direct admission into the University. This was a very positive and encouraging news which dominated the headlines at EK Center for three days in a row!
This is how Sallah performed:- English B-, Kiswahili B-, Mathematics D, Biology C+, Chemistry B-, Business Studies B-, History and Government B- and Christian Religious Education A-. Mean Grade B-Minus.
Sallah scores top in her class, securing a permanent spot in University!
“I could not have achieved this without the support from OHR/EK center’s Scholarship Program. My dream to join University and pursue medical course is now a reality. I have always wished to save lives. Now it’s very crystal clear, I will one day save lives.” She said with smiles of triumph all over her face.
For Flevian Michael Ogweno, another first of EK’s scholars, her performance faired a bit lower due to serious challenges she faced with her former school which forced her to relocate last minute to a different school. She however managed a mean grade of C- (Minus).We’ll send out her performance per subject once we have them.
Many thanks to all the stakeholders who have worked either directly or indirectly to support the Ekialo Kiona Scholarship Program. These young ladies are proof that your support can move mountains. Congratulations scholars!
Written by Robinson Okeyo, EK Project Coordinator
Check out a recent article written by OHR’s Lily Muldoon, highlighting OHR’s Health Navigator and Emergnecy Response program. Read the article here- “Crossing Lake Victoria: Ambulance Boat and Health Navigators Provide Critical Care.”
Join us for an Organic Health Response Pint Night on Tuesday, November 11th from 5- 9pm at Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis!
Last month, OHR received a $7,500 donation commitment by an anonymous Googler to help boost Ek’s slow broadband Internet speeds. This generous dontion will allow EK to upgrade it’s current IT bandwidth from 1 to 3mbs, as well as to purchase new IT equipment for the center! In addition, this donation will be 100% matched by Google, making it a total of $15,000. This donation came along with a set of new chromebooks for the EK IT Lab and chromebook training for our staff members.
The Healthy Parenthood Curriculum focuses on issues related to nutrition, reproductive health, family planning, and food security.
OHR rolled out a new reproductive health and nutrition curriculum from May – July 2014 to microclinics in the Mfangano Health Net (MHN) Program. The Healthy Parenthood curriculum is a USAID Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program based on the RECH Study research results.
With 39 kanyakala groups, 500 participants, and nearly 30 Community Health Workers, our sessions were designed to provide knowledge about proven ways to improve nutrition (exclusive breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding, treatment of malnutrition), get community members talking about these important issues, and provide tools for family planning.
As we move out of the curriculum phase of the program, our groups will put their knowledge into action through food security planning. Kanyakala groups have submitted food security plans for activities they feel will help them to meet their food security needs, such as bee-keeping, poultry and dairy, among many others! In the coming months, we will review and refine these plans, and work with our farm team to provide them technical mentorship for the activities they choose.
EK Nutrition Counselor Florida Otieno leads a group in a food security activity.
Mfangano Health Net team leader Gor Benard debriefs with a CHW group.
In May, the Mfangano Health Net (MHN) – Microclinic Program rolled out a new, 6-session curriculum focused on reproductive health and nutrition. Led by EK-trained Community Health Workers (CHWs), microclinics or “kanyaklas” in Mfangano-East joined this program as an extension onto the original 12-session curriculum on HIV/AIDS, which was held in 2012. The sessions covered important issues surrounding myths and misunderstandings and provided participants with facts, local resources and a group action plan.
CHW Training at EK Center
Many participants feel empowered to share information from their sessions with their families and other community members. “I wish I had enough information about various family planning methods in Mfangano Island. I could have not given birth to the 8 children I now have. I find it so had to take care of them in terms of paying school fees, buying food and even clothing. I did not do proper spacing and I don’t even have a reliable source of income.” Another participant, after sessions on maternal nutrition and safe delivery, learned the importance of going to the clinic for prenatal care and is now encouraged to deliver at the clinic. When learning about breastfeeding, a man spoke up and confessed he did not know anything about expressing milk. He was fascinated to learn about this technique and encouraged others to use it since it can ensure each baby can get breast milk for their first 6 months of life. These are just a few examples of the important information floating around the communities!
A role play on maternal nutrition