The Story of Felix Oketch
“There was a lot of life being lost, simply because of nutrition issues and it was a concern to us,” says Felix Oketch, a Community Assistant working within Kenya’s Siaya County.
Despite some considerable progress over the past decade, about one quarter of the children under the age of five are still stunted. The mortality rate among young children is still very high. 112 out of 1,000 children won’t reach the age of five. Malnutrition and poor infant and young child feeding practices are the major contributing factors.
“We realized before the program we had cases of malnutrition, we had cases of misconception, children are not been taken care of. We tried by all the means, by visiting the health department that is around but every now and again they promised that they will come to the ground but it never came. So when Nawiri project came, it was like a godsend to us as a community unit.”
The Nawiri Project started in May 2016 with a running period of three years. The project was co-funded by the European Union, the Austrian Development Cooperation and CARE, working together with local partner organizations to improve maternal and child health, sexual reproductive health, family planning and the nutritional status of communities living within Siaya County. Currently, the project operates in three sub Counties: Bondo, Rarieda and Gem. The Mother to Mother support groups are part of this project. Thereby Felix serves as a so called Trainer of Trainees (TOT), educating the Community Health Volunteers (CHV).
Mother to Mother
“As a TOT I trained the Community Health Volunteers who are like the counselors now staying with the women on a monthly basis and also handling their sessions. So after training them we found the group and they picked the various sessions that they were feeling comfortable with. For example, some picked on the importance of breast feeding, some picked on the situation that makes breast feeding sometimes difficult in the local situations, some picked on the needs that comes with nutrition on the infants and the young child and among that there are other sessions.”
Out of 187 planned Mother to Mother support groups, 58 have already been established. Those 58 groups have a membership of 1,203 mothers who have already started their sessions, facilitated by trained CHVs.
“We were the very first people from the group and so far we are in our third month. We meet twice in a month and we discuss various topics that are there to be discussed. The curriculum that we are using is approved by the government, it was given to us by CARE and it has been of great help to us,” says Felix.