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, November 29, 2010

Epic Success for Safe Shimoni!

‘The effects seem invisible not because no one can feel it, but because they are immeasurable’.

I have spent the past year and three months working with GVI, based in both Shimoni and Mkwiro, overseeing the Community Development and Teaching projects that are run on the South Coast of Kenya. There are so many stories to tell…. so much I would love to share but I can’t tell you how difficult it is to put it all into words! The words that would do justice to the communities to whom I work with, to those I have met and the stories we share together.

For the past year and three months, I have been working with a local community group in Shimoni called SAFE Shimoni. They are a relatively small group of 25 individuals aged between 21-35years who received training from the Aga-Khan Foundation in 2009 which enabled them to be registered as ‘Community Health Workers’. The group focuses on raising awareness and educating children, youths and local community members on specific health related issues such as HIV/AIDS Awareness, Disease, Nutrition/Hygiene, available counseling and support services, home-based care and VCT (voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS).

GVI’s main objective with this group alongside support and guidance is capacity building. Over the past year we have held many educational workshops for the group which include for example: HIV/AIDS evidence-based practice, First Aid, Childhood illnesses, Rape and Domestic Violence Counseling, Introduction to basic Nursing Skills, basic counseling skills and childhood development/immunizations. All of these workshops are attended by individuals from SAFE Shimoni and later adapted and utilized in their outreach programs. In the past year, the SAFE Shimoni has successfully delivered outreach programs to over 30 schools in surrounding sub-location and have actively educated local CBO’s on similar health related issues.

The outreach program is an aspect GVI are actively involved in – providing advice, guidance and direct support in the development of the project and attending all outreaches with the group. Currently we are working on developing drama workshops which SAFE Shimoni has requested as they are eager to incorporate it into the outreach programs for the schools. Alongside this, there will be more interactive workshops which the students can actively participate in.

I’m not lying when I say the group is absolutely inspirational, and I have an overwhelming deep respect for each and every one! There is an enormous amount of love here, love for the work you do, love for your colleagues, love for your family, your friends, its everywhere and it’s contagious!. SAFE Shimoni are doing what they do without any direct funding from either the government or local organizations. The time SAFE Shimoni spend attending all GVI workshops, the outreach programs and all the community education and awareness workshops are completely voluntary. They don’t receive any funding for attending or providing these services to, not only, their local community but the surrounding sub-locations also. They are the only group within Shimoni providing these types of outreach and counseling / home-based care services… all in their free time. The local dispensary just doesn’t have the time, training, knowledge nor man power to be able to offer such services.

Now… onto the biggest news and one of the biggest success stories I’ve had the privilege of being involved in. Back in September 2010, I spent 2weeks working directly with 2 elected member of SAFE Shimoni (Davis – the Chairman) and (Diego – Community Health Worker). The group wanted to get together a proposal to submit to NACC (National Aids Control Council) for funding to further develop their outreach program to both communities and schools. The focus would be on education and awareness of HIV/AIDS, behavior change – stigma and discrimination alongside forming support groups within Shimoni and the surrounding sub-locations – ensuring networking. The grant would also enable the group to undergo further training at local institutions in Mombasa to further personal and professional development.

22 pages later… alongside a lot of Chai, meetings and late nights with SAFE Shimoni…
The group received the confirmation letter today that SAFE Shimoni have been successful in their application and they will be receiving 350,000Ksh within the next two weeks to support their community project.

This is a HUGE success and pays tribute to the passion, dedication and commitment from every individual who makes up SAFE Shimoni. I can’t express how happy I am… the group’s reaction was incredible and rightly so, as this grant will have a huge impact on local communities.

I look forward to keeping you all up-to-date with the ongoing developments of the group..

It only seems right to end on a quote…

‘Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality’

Fran Millsopp, Community Officer, GVI Kenya


Anonymous said...

Absolutely Inspiring!
A tremendous success story for all parties.
Wonderful work, it's very special that volunteers get the opportunity to see first hand development work.. it's trials but also the wonderful achievements!.
Congratulations to all!!