GVI's Marine and Wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition in Kenya

Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, January 13, 2014

This blog is moving to gvi.co.uk

Angola black-and-white colobus (Colobus angolensis palliatus) a key species in coastal forests

Over the past years, this blog has been a very valuable communication tool. We have exchanged ideas on alternatives to charcoal with community groups in Uganda, created awareness on cetacean conservation in Kenya, published reports that have been used by organisations such as Birdlife International and WWF, and raised over USD 25,000 for various community based initiatives in coastal villages.

We are now making things even better. Our blogs will be fully integrated into our new website which will be live by the end of January and thus, we are moving. Blog posts will be directly accessible on gvi.co.uk and www.gviusa.com.

Other live news, updates and goings on are published on Facebook and from our twitter account. Some older stories can be found on the wildlifedirect blog which is no longer being updated.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Health Club – HIV awareness class at Shimoni Primary

It’s reaching the time of year here in Shimoni when the schools begin preparing for exams before slowing down and commencing their well deserved end of term holidays! For the health volunteers, this sadly means we don’t have as much teaching time! Luckily for us, Kopa (GVIs health officer) struck a deal with the teachers of Shimoni Primary and managed to schedule a week’s worth of afternoon Health Club classes! This has been a great opportunity for us volunteers to get our heads down and work together to plan some educational, interactive and hopefully enjoyable classes!
Health club members taking notes 
 We began our Health Club sessions with an HIV focused lesson. The local children are aware that HIV is a health issue that is prominent in this area, so they seemed keen to engage with the lesson and show their knowledge of the subject right from the word go – as Madame Julia (health volunteer) was writing the title on the board, the children could tell us what the letters in HIV stood for. Great start to the class!
Health club Members joins the other student in end of year closing ceremony.

Madame Julia began the lesson by explaining what HIV is and how we can contract and transmit the virus. This was done with a simple, yet very effective demonstration using plastic cups, water and yellow squash (we chose to color yellow to represent the HIV virus). The liquids represent bodily fluids and by mixing the liquids, the spread of virus is visualized and easily understood. Mister Jackson (health field staff) then went onto illustrate exactly how HIV weakens our immune system by filling a white balloon (white blood cell) with yellow confetti (HIV virus) and popping the balloon! 
Madam Rosie enjoying the Health project
  I ended the lesson with an interactive true or false activity. The aim of this was to firstly get the children directly involved with the lesson and to review what we had covered in the session, in the hope that the children would have learned and remembered something new! We respect that HIV is often a negative and sensitive subject to discuss, however we wanted to conclude our class on an optimistic note! I believe we achieved this by discussing that HIV treatment and therapies are greatly successful in prolonging a healthy immune system for many years. And much to our delight, the children all seemed to agree! 

Rosie Chisholm – Health Volunteer


Friday, December 20, 2013

Remini'sea'ing 2013 on the GVI Marine Project

As we come to the end of another great year at GVI Shimoni Kenya, we will highlight the exciting moments that we have had here and on the Marine project in particular and what we can look forward to in the coming year.
At the beginning of the year GVI Kenya's marine research program was featured in the East African magazine SWARA article 'The Big Five of the Ocean' alongside partners KWS, WMA, KMFRI and KASA. http://www.scribd.com/doc/130125332/Marine-Research-Programme-in-SWARA-Magazine
Earlier this year KWS held a Turtle committee conservation meeting bringing together members from Turtle Conservation Groups in the Southern coast of Kenya. The meeting was to bring together the groups to discuss the current situation of turtle conservation as well as the future.
 GVI provided information from boat based surveys and turtle transects on their spatial distribution in and around the Kisite MPA. In March, GVI had a staff member collaborating with our partners the Watamu Marine Association and helping them to analyse their data and put together the catalogue which now has upto 100 individuals.

   In July, GVI Kenya had the first ever recording of a Dwarf Minke whale in Kenyan waters. This rorqual whale happened to be passing through the Wasini Channel when our Sharp eyed boat captain Faridi spotted this rather large dolphin like cetacean.
   August was the peak Humpback whale season and GVI had a total of 25 sightings during the season accounting for a total of 56 individuals. The team participated in the Synchronised Whale Watching Day (SWWD) for the second year, with only a record of 3 Humpback whales for that day. We were featured again in SWARA magazine for one of our Humpback whale photos and as contributors during the SWWD. In September, the whole GVI team in Shimoni participated in the International Coastal cleanup day along with students from 4 Primary schools and a total of approximately 1.5tonnes of rubbish was collected.

In November, there were two events:  GVI collaborated with WWF in providing training to three personnel members on Marine mammal identification and data collection over a period of three days. 
Also in this month, the Kenya Marine Mammal Network held the very first workshop, bringing together current as well as prospective members of the network. GVI along with WMA and other members provided input on the status of Marine Mammals along the Kenyan coast and also highlighting the major gaps in lack of data in between Watamu and Kisite as well as North of the coast in Lamu.

The first KMMN workshop in Mombasa

Training WWF

We have collected a total of 52 hours of behaviour on Bottlenose dolphins this year; the surveys were boat based and were only able to be done during the calm season. We observed their behaviour in the presence as well as in the absence of Tourist boats and what effect they have on them.Throughout the year the GVI Marine team has been
teaching environmental classes (Earth Club) at Mkwiro primary school with Std.6. They have been taught about Sharks, Cetaceans, Mangroves (of which they entered an art competition and five art pieces were printed in next year’s annual calendar of Mangrove Action Plan).
In the coming year, we are hoping to collect more hours of behaviour on Bottlenose dolphins and also to increase our participation in global events together with Mkwiro primary school (e.g World Oceans day). We will also be carrying out workshops with the local boat operators on Humpback whales: behaviour and how to drive around whales as well as information on Dolphins and the code of conduct.
 We are also going to be collaborating some more with WWF and provide more training to the captains on how to drive around dolphins and other data collection methods as a follow up of the training provided in November this year. We will also be carrying out Reef fish surveys and more water bird surveys. We will continue collecting data on cetaceans found in the Kisite MPA and possibly more collaborations with partners.We are looking forward to another successful year. We wish you a wonderful holiday!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Hannah's week on the Community Program

I honestly didn’t think community would be so much fun.  After two incredible months of forest and marine conservation I am ashamed to say I wasn’t particularly looking forward to community, but oh how wrong I was.  We started the week with teacher training, where we hand a lot of fun practicing teaching lessons.  I learnt a wealth of valuable information from why the sky is blue to how to get ready for a night out.  We then started real lesson planning, and I was surprised by how easily it came to me.  I planned an hour long English lesson for Standard 7 on punctuation, explaining the different between “Let’s eat, Madam Jordan” and “Let’s eat Madam Jordan”.  In the afternoon we observed some lessons and I was impressed by how the GVI staff managed to engage a group of children from varying ages and levels with such ease and authority.  In fact, the simplicity and well thought out lesson plan taught me a thing or two.

Standard six enjoying an open library session.
After such a rewarding day I doubted that it could get much better, but at 3:15 we headed back to the school for open library.  Everyday the library is opened for an hour to allowed children to come and read for pleasure in their spare time.  Voluntarily learning in out-of-school hours is something that British children would find abhorrent, but in Mkwiro it is evident that these children do not have the same attitude.  It was wonderful teaching children who wanted to be there, who wanted to learn.  Stumbling on worlds over and over again, but so eager to get it right.  I sat down and read with a boy from Mkwiro Primary school and every time his eyes fell upon a word he didn’t understand, instead of stumbling over it, he would look up at me expectantly and ask “Madam?”

Hannah working with the Kindergarten class during a music and movement session.

Overall, community has been an absolute joy – from marking exercise books to running around in circles with the kindergarten class.  I am glad I got the opportunity to experience it and when I have free time I would be more than happy to join the community team to give them a helping hand.  I now understand why this is such an important part of the GVI program in Kenya and why people never want to leave.

Hannah Bailey - Conservation Intern


Nutrition Class at Shimoni Primary

This past Tuesday we had our final health club class at Shimoni Primary, a public school here in the village. The school term has just finished this week, but we were lucky enough to have one more great lesson with a few eager students from a mix of ages! These students voluntarily attend health club a couple of days a week after their scheduled classes have finished for the day. 

Health Volunteer teaching
On Tuesday I arrived at Shimoni Primary with Jackson (health staff) and Ryan (health volunteer) in the typically blistering heat to a class full of rambunctious students. After a few minutes (of which it took us to settle them down) we began our lesson on nutrition and a balanced diet. We began by explaining what these things meant. We explained how the food we eat affects our health and that eating the right amounts of a variety of food types is important to maintain a healthy body. 
Health club Members listening keenly
We went on to discuss different food groups, (carbohydrates, proteins, etc.). At this point the students were volunteering their own answers, and giving us examples of different types of food that they eat regularly. It was great that they felt so confident with the material, and willing to use their prior knowledge! Fortunately, we had a poster (that Jackson had made) with examples of food containing different vitamins and minerals, and a food pyramid. This was a wonderful aid for the students to use, as it added color and interest to the dull black board! We used the food pyramid to demonstrate serving sizes. We discussed with the students that your body needs more of some types of foods (complex carbohydrates), and less of others (sugars).
Health Club Members doing assignment
Our final activity, which created the most excitement, was when all of us together came up with three exemplary, nutritionally balanced meals. Having drawn three ‘plates’ on the board, the students began suggesting different foods from a range of categories in the food pyramid. Together we created meals consisting of eggs and toast with fruit on the side; ugali (a typical Kenyan maize dish), rice and beans with cabbage and spinach; and potato stew with fish. We even included some biscuits, which our food pyramid had suggested we “use sparingly.”
Health Volunteer Demonstrating an activity to the students
Getting students to contribute is often one of the more challenging components of teaching a class here, as they are not accustomed to highly interactive teaching, and are used to copying from the board. So, it is really great when you do get students interested and involved in a subject manner, as we did in our nutrition class! The students were very willing to participate, because the subject matter was relatable. They were able to give examples of the food they eat, and we were able to supply them with a new understanding about why we should eat certain types of food and what it does for us. It was wonderful way for us to end the term on such a high note!
Julia Hatheway-Health Volunteer


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Global Hand-washing Day 2013

Global Hand-washing Day for 2013 was celebrated at Shimoni Primary School in Shimoni Village and GVI Shimoni Kenya’s Health Project was invited to attend and help out at the event. So, to begin with…let’s talk about a short overview of what the day is all about…
Davis(Safe shimoni chairperson) opens the meeting.

“Global Hand-washing Day was originally created for children and schools, but can be celebrated by anyone promoting hand-washing with soap. Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world. Global Hand-washing is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals”.

·         “Foster and support a global culture of hand washing with soap.
·         Shine a spotlight on the state of hand washing in every country.
·         Raise awareness about the benefits of hand washing with soap”.

These are pretty much the main objectives of Global Hand washing day and were a great guide for us when we were asked to prepare some posters for the event. The week before this day was due to be held, Mr. Patrick (the Public Health Officer) approached GVI and invited us to collaborate on the day and prepare some informative and exciting posters relating to hand washing. So….we set off on our graphic designing, mental brainstorming and health-related artistic road to some wicked posters that we could show the kids on the day!
Shimoni Primary School student listening keenly

Gabrielle Gunners (Health Project volunteer) used her amazing artistic skills and produced a masterpiece step-by-step guide to washing your hands correctly, with only her bare hands and a pen! We were then able to photocopy this and laminate the copies before taping them to areas near the school’s toilet facilities. Hopefully creating a successful, friendly reminder to the kids of the process when they need to wash their hands after using the toilets.
Allan Farah shows how to properly wash your hands 
So….after our amazing posters were complete and Global Hand washing day had arrived, GVI headed to Shimoni Primary to help the Community Health Workers (CHW’s) with their presentations. Madame Mwanamvua (CHW) gave a thorough and informative presentation on the method to washing your hands, the kids seemed to be watching closely and we had some volunteer students come up and demonstrate to the group. After some more presentations from the CHW’s and the Public Health Officer we concluded a successful hand-washing day. Hopefully this was able to increase the student’s awareness of how, when and why to soap up and wash your hands!
CHW's, and GVI Volunteers
Jackson Vukovic – Health Project Field Staff


Thursday, October 17, 2013

You are what you eat!

Last Monday was a historical day for the GVI Health Program. It was the first time EVER Health Club was held at Mkwiro primary school. Mkwiro is a village on the island Wasini, right across the channel from Shimoni. It is a huge step forward that we now can start teaching life skill classes in Mkwiro, since the island is more conservative than the mainland. Topics such as early marriage, sex, STD’s, HIV and AIDS are something that the teachers aren’t that comfortable in teaching. However these are important subjects that GVI health volunteers are MORE than happy to take care of!
Gabrielle Gunners teaching  

As you might understand, we were super excited about our first Health Club class. Health Officer Kopa, field staff Jackson and I were shocked by the number of kids present! All of a sudden we had a classroom full of sixty five students. All of them ready and set to absorb anything we had to teach them. With a big smile on our faces we were ready to start teaching! It is always motivating to see such great interest from the students. 
Jackson Vukovic- Health  Field Staff

Mr. Kopa wrote the topic of the lesson on the board – how to lead a healthy diet!! Points such as a stable intake of nutrients, eating regularly and balancing good and bad food were brought up with the kids. Sugar, oil, excessive intake of dairy and fats were some of the things we discussed. We asked all the kids a question to get them thinking – why do people lead an unhealthy diet? Reasons such as finances, availability, laziness and addiction were put up on the board when brainstorming. The kids were listening intently when we talked about the long term side effects of leading an unhealthy diet. Consequences such as high cholesterol levels, heart attacks, stroke, weight gain and organ strain made the students sit quietly to hear what we had to say. These facts highlighted the importance of thinking about what you eat.
Health Club members listening keenly

We finished off the lesson by making the students draw and paint their own food pyramids that we had taught them during the lesson. At the end we received 65 beautiful pyramids demonstrating what they had learned. We happily walked out of the classroom knowing that this was the beginning of a new and rewarding collaboration with Mkwiro primary school.

Gabrielle Gunners – Health Project Volunteer


Thursday, October 3, 2013

My journey so far with GVI…

Hi! My name is Jackson and I’m from Sydney, Australia…so, I guess I would say…”g’day mate!”…or something like that. I have just began working for GVI as a field staff member in Shimoni Village along the south-eastern coast of Kenya on their Health Awareness & Promotion Project. I am writing this blog to tell you guys a little bit about my story so far…
Jackson Vokovic as a Health Volunteer
From a young age I had known I was interested in the health field and had a pretty good idea that I wanted to work in health when I grew up. Two of my grandparents were doctors and my sister an Occupational Therapist – so I got plenty of exposure to the health field and the kind of work involved. Each time I was lucky enough to see my grandparents do something ‘doctor-y’ or my sister ‘therapy-it-up’ at her hospital – I only got keener and keener on working in health.

After working at a hospital in Sydney for about eight months as a wards person, receptionist and stock coordinator I had come across GVI on a Facebook page and decided to check out their website. Along with an interest in health, I had always been keen on doing some volunteering in another country and getting a taste for working in international development. Scrolling through GVI’s pages and pages of varying volunteer programs, expeditions and internships I came across the Health Awareness & Promotion Project in Kenya. The project really caught my eye and I book-marked the page on my PC!

So after a bit of brainstorming and ‘nutting’ out my finances I decided I was going to work at the hospital for another six months and then head out to Kenya to volunteer with GVI. The program fitted perfectly for all the things I was interested in…
Jackson Vukovic enjoying the Health Project
Health work + foreign country + international development

Over my 3 months of volunteering with GVI on their Health Awareness & Promotion Project I was able to take part the following tasks:

·Help out at the local Public Medical Dispensary with administrative work, organisation and weighing toddlers up to small children

·Going into the field with Community Health Workers to hold child growth monitoring outreaches

·Plan and teach health-related lessons in the secondary and junior school
·Tutor adults who live in the village on computer skills
·Collect research for the Public Health Officer on national and global health developments

By the time I had powered through my 3 months volunteering I had felt like I had taken part in valuable work that would be of benefit to the community and I had a great time being part of the GVI team in Shimoni Village, Kenya. But…this isn’t where it ends yet…

A few weeks after I had finished my volunteering with GVI a field staff position on the Health Awareness & Promotion Project had become available! This was a really exciting opportunity to be able to do some more work in the health field in Kenya and be back as part of the GVI team. It would also be a great opportunity for me to gain more work experience in the international health development field…as well as getting to do some more work with the awesome Kenyan’s who live in Shimoni Village!
Jackson working at the local Health Facility
So….I applied and sent my resume in! After an interview with the Senior Management Team and a reference check I was notified I had been successful and selected for the position. So far my time back here in Kenya has been just as amazing as my first trip here! So far so amazing!

Jackson Vukovic – Health Project Field Staff


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Secrets beneath the waves

Imagine deepest indigo waters that slowly shift into a brilliant turquoise and then a bright emerald green, topped with sun sparkles. Now add a dramatic rock stubbornly receiving the incoming blows of the Indian Ocean, and you have an image of Kisite island and its surrounding lagoon, all part of the Kisite-Mpunguti marine park. 

While skimming through the water on our research boat, the space above the waves seems endless. A quick dip under the surface reveals quite another dimension: our world may feel empty but underneath the waves another world reigns. A snorkel, mask, and flippers allow us to briefly visit this brilliant blue place. In addition to dolphins and whales, in the marine project at Shimoni we also look for other large marine animals such as turtles, rays, and reef sharks. Staring eye to eye with a giant green turtle is a highlight, but the underwater camera runs hot when reef fish surprise us with glimpses into their everyday life. 

Juvenile Semi-circle Angelfish -Pomacanthus semicirculatus

Just yesterday I learned a beauty secret of the deep when bumping into a large pufferfish: it was receiving a morning facial treatment by little fish carefully cleaning the skin. Swimming in the middle of a shoal of hundreds of little gem-like fish is just as fantastic as playing hide and seek with a moray eel peeking from its den. 

Green turtle -Chelonia mydas
Sometimes, just sometimes we glimpse the wonders of the underwater world above the surface, too. The first time I saw a flying fish masterly skim the waves for dozens of meters I thought I had spotted a giant dragonfly. It was being chased by a larger fish, also surfing the air above the waves. Who knows, maybe the next step in fish evolution is reaching for the skies - quite literally?

By Anna Enzerink a two week volunteer on the Marine Research Program


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Mysteries of Malnutrition Management

On a bright and sunny morning I awoke excited for my first Growth Monitoring Outreach. It was a short walk to the neighbouring community of Majengo where we found many smiling faces (and a few wary ones too!) waiting to greet us. The concept of “weighing babies” seemed like fun but the importance of what we were doing started to unravel.

Malnutrition can be defined as “a state in which the physical function of an individual is impaired to the point where he/she can no longer maintain adequate bodily performance processes such as growth, pregnancy, lactation, physical work, and resisting and recovering from disease” (The Sphere Project, 2004). In Kenya, the national figure for acute malnutrition of children under the age of 5 is estimated at 6% with huge variation in the different regions of the country ranging up to 20% or even higher (UNICEF, 2006). 

Under nutrition can be identified by assessing the individual’s nutritional status however this would involve investigating the availability and utilization of nutrients at the cellular level. Out in the field this becomes impractical so we rely of proxy indicators of nutritional status primarily Anthropometry (measurements of weight, height etc.) and recognition of clinical signs (oedema, skin pigmentation).

During the growth monitoring outreach we measured the child’s weight on a hanging scale and compare this to a Weight for Age chart on their Health Card. This allows us to graph their growth against a reference population, if they fall below the normal range the child is identified as underweight. We also check for immunization status and flag children who require follow up.
In total we weighed 54 children, including a set of 2 month year old twins and a little boy petrified on the Muzungu (white person)- I couldn’t look twice at him without him bursting into tears and running in the opposite direction! At the conclusion of the outreach two children were identified as underweight.
The question was what happens now? I sat down with Community Health Worker (CHW) and Pharmacist, Diego at Shimoni Dispensary to find out.
In the community, CHWs screen children using anthropometric measurements (e.g. weight, mean upper arm circumference) and the presence of oedema. Underweight or children displaying signs of oedema are referred to the nearest health facility for further investigation. A thorough assessment including questions about breast feeding status, diet and appetite is completed by a nurse or health worker and then an official diagnosis of malnutrition is made. The mother is also checked for signs of malnutrition and treated accordingly.

Further reading of the Kenya Guideline for Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition
revealed that children can have a combination of both acute and chronic malnutrition. Acute malnutrition can be categorized into Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), determined by the patient’s degree of wasting and certain criteria (eg. Comparison to WHO height for weight charts, mean upper arm circumference and level of oedema). All cases of bi-lateral oedema are categorized as SAM. SAM is further classified into two categories: Marasmus and Kwashiorkor. Patients may present with a combination, known as Marasmic Kwashiorkor.

Common signs and symptoms of Marasmus  include:
Severe weight loss and wasting, Ribs prominent, Limbs emaciated,Muscle wasting, May have good appetite, With correct treatment, good prognosis

For Kwashiorkor: Bi-lateral oedema and fluid accumulation, Loss of appetite, Brittle thinning hair, Hair colour change, Apathetic and irritable, Face may seem swollen, High risk of death

Chronic malnutrition is determined by a patient’s degree of stunting, i.e. when a child has not reached his or her expected height for a given age.

The management of acute malnutrition involves two basic objectives:

1) To prevent malnutrition by early identification, public health interventions and nutrition

2) To treat acute malnutrition to reduce associated morbidity and mortality.
(Ministry of Medical Services, 2009)

Diego explained at the Shimoni Dispensary all children under the age of 5 are given Mix Me a vitamin and mineral supplement to be added food as a preventative measure.

For children identified as moderately outpatient management involves food supplementation with Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (Plumpy Sup) and weekly monitoring.

Uncomplicated cases of severe malnutrition - patients who have a good appetite; are free from medical complications; and do not have moderate/severe oedema - can be treated with routine drugs (e.g. Antibiotics, deworming, vaccinations, Vitamin A supplementation) and the relevant quantity of ready to use therapeutic food (Plumpy Nut) at home. Families attend the dispensary for monitoring and to replenish therapeutic food supply, parents are encouraged to return empty packets to improve compliance. Further follow up is made at the home by the community health worker involving nutrition and health education. Children who have a poor appetite and present with complications such as oedema, hypothermia, fever, weakness or fitting must immediately be referred to an inpatient facility for further management.
Malnutrition is an important public health issue particularly for children under five years old who have a significantly higher risk of mortality and morbidity than well nourished children. We are happy to work with our partners, The Community Health Workers to help identify and prevent malnutrition through regular monitoring at the monthly Growth Monitoring outreaches.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Georgie's maths teaching challenge

Georgie teaching at Mkwiro Primary School

I arrived in Kenya having never taught before. I received a day of training, under the watchful eye of community staff member Jordan. I have since had the chance to observe and teach several lessons and the experience has been amazing. To see children, who are fasting through Ramadan, turn up to school and actually complete work, never mind just listen, is testament to the willingness of many people here to learn. During my first open library session, under the baobab tree, one boy approached me and said, ‘I don’t understand English, but I want to try.’ This same attitude is common: a drive to learn, to expand business opportunities and to thrive.

Teaching multiplication to standard 4
I also had the privilege of teaching a young man from the village, during the weekly Men’s English group. Ali was an incredibly inspiring person to teach, not wanting to end the lessons but to keep on reading –both weeks we were the last to finish! He would be the one to guide me each week, letting me know what he wanted to learn or what he wanted to improve. During this week, I was also able to teach an English class to standard 5 children. I really enjoyed the experience. My highlight, however, has to be teaching maths. Standard 4 were very talented maths students and the irony of Madam Georgie, the world’s most enthusiastic but useless maths student, teaching multiplication, and the children understanding it, was almost too much to take in! I can finally say that all my hard work during A-level maths was worthwhile.

Georgina Harbottle - Community Project Volunteer


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Health project: follow up jigger outreach

Today's adventure commenced with a casual 2 hour stroll to our neighbouring village- Kibuyuni.  We were on a hunt for jiggers! My first thoughts when hearing about our planned 'Jigger Outreach' was what actually was a jigger?

Walking to the jigger outreach

Searching the power of all knowledge, Wiki revealed....

A Jigger may refer to:

- a hand-operated railway car
- a measure of alcoholic beverage ingredients, and the tool used to measure them
- a pallet jack
- a hidden button on a double breasted suit
- an obsolete golf club
- Chigoe flea, a parasitic arthropod found in tropical climates that may cause an inflammatory skin disease

In careful consideration I decided it must be the Chigoe fleas we were targeting and not an expedition to build the school children railway cars!

At 1 mm long, the chigoe flea is the smallest known flea. Breeding female chigoes burrow into exposed skin on the feet of humans and remain there for two weeks while developing eggs. During this time the fleas swell dramatically, sometimes causing intense irritation (condition called tungiasis). Following this point, the skin lesion looks like a 5- to 10-mm blister with a central black dot- this is the flea's exposed hind legs, respiratory spiracles and reproductive organs. If the flea is left within the skin, dangerous complications can occur including secondary infections, loss of nails, and toe deformation.

School children ready for the jigger scrubbing

Our journey began at the dispensary collecting supplies for our attack-

Antiseptic Wash, Gauze for scrubbing, Antibiotic Cream and Vaseline. Joining us we our partners from Rise and Shine and Shimoni Dispensary. We wondered through the beautiful surroundings on a glorious sunny day encountering much wildlife and scenery on the way- a family of Colobus Monkeys, Dung Beetles, Hibiscus flowers and the ‘Door to the Enchanted City’ (a lone standing door in an area of forest and scrubs)!

The community health workers working hard

Arriving at Kibuyuni Primary School we were quickly introduced to the Principal and staff. The children were promptly organised into queues and the production line began!

"Scrub the jiggers, soak the jiggers, vaseline the jiggers all over"!

The children's feet were scrubbed with gauze and antiseptic to remove exposed fleas. Any open wounds are treated with antibiotic cream and then all bites were then smothered with Vaseline in an attempt to suffocate and kill off the fleas. 

Mr Saidi washing jigger feet

Jiggers pose a complex problem for the local coastal communities of Kenya. As the fleas thrive in sandy conditions ongoing education must focus on strategies of prevention. We hope to work with our partners the Community Health Workers to provide education not only to schools but also to parents on the importance of foot hygiene, avoidance of jiggers and regular use of footwear or matting in sandy areas. 

Belinda Kerr - Health Project Volunteer


Friday, August 9, 2013

Australian Aid visit Shimoni and give a talk on family planning

Every day at 10am we roll down to the dispensary, ready to help the local health facility with the work they are doing. Jackson and I managed to weigh 10 children ready to be seem by the nurse. Jackson and I were very busy working at the reception, when Mr. Patrick (public health officer) was talking to the nurse saying that Australian Aid were coming to Shimoni to lead a health talk on different forms of contraception. Patrick showed Jackson and I the residents who were waiting for the visitors to arrive.   They were happy to wait as many were keen to start taking the contraceptive pill. Patrick added that it’s a big opportunity for the local people to have this chance. These people were coming from very far, all the way from Nairobi to give this talk to the people at Shimoni and provide free contraceptives, which people usually have to pay for.

We saw a van approaching the dispesnary and on the side was written Australian aid. That was my first time to see/hear about Australian aid. The PHO received the visitors and took them to the nurse where they introduced themselves and explained the purpose of their visit.  This was to help people at Shimoni to understand the different contraceptive methods and decide the best method for them. Their names were David, Lucy mercy and Susan. 

Susan (front) leads the contraceptive talk at the dispensary
The villagers were invtied to listen to Susan who was one of the Australian aid officials. All people gathered in one place and Jackson and I joined the team. Susan greeted her audience and started his talk by asking the spectators on their knowledge about definition of family planning. One of the villagers mama Hassan said family planning was controlling of the number of children in a family according to your leaving standard. Susan continued  by talking about each contraceptive method, how it works and its effectiveness.

After Susan had finished, she asked the audience if they had any questions. Mama (mother of) Omar asked if you will lose the depo after becoming fat. Mad Susan smiled a little bit asked another question instead of answering it. She asked if you can lose a nose ring if you become fat. The answer was no. that means you can lose the depo even you become too fat.  Susan finished by stressing the importance of choosing your contraceptive method carefully.  If they want not to gate a pregnant a short term then they should choose a short method of contraceptive. The villagers then started to queue to get the prescription. Every client who was coming out of the prescribed room looked happy. Jackson and I headed back home, happy at what we'd just experienced.

Mwinyiisa Kopa- Health field staff