Anonymous Google Employee Boosts EK Broadband Speeds

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.

Healthy Parenthood Curriculum = Food Secure Future

The Healthy Parenthood Curriculum focuses on issues related to nutrition, reproductive health, family planning, and food security.

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.

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.

Mfangano Health Net team leader Gor Benard debriefs with a CHW group.

Microclinics Start Reproductive Health & Nutrition Curriculum

MHN RH & Nutrition Map

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

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

A role play on maternal nutrition

Health Navigators Receive 2014 Awesome Without Borders Grant!

We're a grantee

We are thrilled to announce we are now a grantee of Awesome Without Borders! A chapter of the Awesome Foundation, AWB gives $1,000 no strings-attached weekly grants to awesome initiatives worldwide. OHR has received this grant to support our Health Navigators Program in Kenya.

Health Navigators
A much needed link between patients and treatment.

Western Kenya’s Mfangano Island is home to both a large HIV population, and little healthcare. The Organic Health Response (OHR) decided life on the island would be more awesome if people had access to better treatment, and we couldn’t agree more!

OHR is the pilot behind the Health Navigator Program, an exciting initiative to improve the island community. The program helps meet the critical need for reaching timely and effective healthcare for over 20,000 residents, with an emphasis on assisting expecting mothers and the seriously injured.

This summer, OHR will recruit and train 10 local healthcare workers as the region’s first Health Navigators, intersecting patients at the critical crossroads of their illnesses to be one part emergency first responder, one part community organizer, and one part patient advocate. Acting as a ship and bridge between the island and mainland, and between patient and provider, Navigators will assist all parties in making the safest decision, while providing experienced emotional support to distressed families.

OHR’s model is remarkable, and well underway to change lives on Mfangano Island. With a little more support to cover training workshops they can turn the race to greater health into a marathon, and AWB is more than ecstatic to help make that happen.

EK Radio Wins $8,000 to “Scale-Up!”

Youth Radio Initiative_small


Thanks to Big Ideas @ Berkeley, EK-FM can now “scale-up” its broadcast hours from 5 to 12 hours a day! Out of 186 applicants, our team was chosen to participate in the final round of the “scaling-up” category competition.

EK Youth Radio has 3 goals on the horizon:

(1) Upgrade solar-power and production equipment to double daily broadcasting hours and improve media content.
(2) Initiate a community workshop series to improve dialogue and participation in radio among marginalized populations on Mfangano (particularly women & youth).
(3) Strengthen relationships with regional and global community radio networks and popular education movements.


Craig Newmark Blogs About EK-FM

craigconnects: Connecting the World for the Common GoodIn the recent months, blog posts from EK-FM Youth Presenters have been featured on Craig Newmark’s (Craig from Craigslist!) blog, Each piece explores rural technology, globalization, community radio, and it’s connection to Mfangano Island, Kenya.

I Could Not Press the Computer Keyboard Buttons..

Proud to Be Suba!

The Future of EK Radio

Local-Global Youth Development



Suba Build New EK Emergency Boat


This week, Organic Health Response started the construction of the new Ekialo Kiona Emergency Boat! Local Abasuba boat builders will carefully construct this custom design boat using generations worth of local expertise.

This process will be broken into three phases:

  1. Fundi Phase (local builders): Build boat hull and cross beams
  2. Carpenter Phase: Install custom boat flooring and seats
  3. Finishing Phase: Painting and outfitting of canopy

The new EK Emergency Boat is set to sail by July 1, 2014. In the meantime, stay posted and watch our video to learn about the boat building process and emergency needs on Mfangano.

local solution to a local problem