APHIA PLUS Western Kenya

Issue 2 | August 2013

Chrispine, a beneficiary of the OVC school fees support

Investing in Education
mong the most celebrated achievements in the education sector in Kenya is the roll out of Free Primary Education (FPE) in public schools, and the more recent waiver of tuition fees in public secondary schools. However, despite this there are many young people still unable to access school, especially secondary school. This is felt most among orphaned and vulnerable


children (OVCs). Those in boarding schools have to pay boarding fees while many more have to meet other levies and requirements such as books, uniform and even regular meals that an OVC may not afford. This year, the APHIAplus Western Kenya Project supported 19,011 OVCs in the region with school fees and levies at a cost of Ksh.165 million. Although majority of

the beneficiaries are in Secondary schools, others are in early childhood development education (ECDE) centers, primary schools or vocational training centers. Chrispine Jacobs, a Form Three student at St. Mathias Secondary School in Busia County is one such beneficiary. He lost both his parents while in class six, and
continued on pg 5

Transforming a Region by Saving Lives
Investing in Education Munyang’anyi Primay: The WASH Friendly School Choosing the Right Path; The ‘I Choose Life’ Way 1 2 3

Inside this Issue
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Taking Control: More Women Embrace Family Planning Empowering Orphaned and Vulnerable Children: Caregivers Through Education

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Word from the COP
Dear Colleagues, This edition of APHIAplus Western Kenya newsletter, comes to you at a time when the project is evaluating its mid- term performance. The last 21/2 years have seen the project develop strong partnerships with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other key government sectors with the aim of improving the quality of health services at community and health facility levels. In line with the MoH Community Strategy, the project has dedicated immense resources towards strengthening prevention interventions and health promotion activities at community level, while supporting linkages between the community structures and the proximate health facilities. Supporting the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) has been a key objective of the project. This includes positively engaging their caregivers and also ensuring that the OVCs remain healthy and receive quality education.

The project has dedicated immense resources towards strengthening prevention interventions and health promotion activities at community level
Most of the stories in this edition therefore highlight some of the important work that the project supports at community level. Although some of the initiatives such as the boda boda ambulance are

still in the infancy stage, we are keen on rolling them out to whole region. We also value the partnership we have with local organizations that we have sub granted to support various interventions in the region and we hope to further strengthen their work as we move on with the project. As we enter into the next half of the project, we are alive to the fact that the region still faces a number of challenges especially in key service areas such as HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH). We shall continue working with the MoH and other partners towards achieving set targets with the aim of improving the health of the people of Western Kenya.

Dr. Ambrose Misore
Chief of Party

A pupil washing his hands at one of the wash tanks

Munyang’anyi Primary:The WASH Friendly School

unyang’anyi Primary School in Bungoma County, a school of 400 students, previously recorded over 50 reported cases of diarrhoea every week. It was mainly attributed to poor sanitation and hygiene practices. This led to absenteeism and poor academic performance. After being introduced to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Program by APHIAplus Western Kenya, the school fraternity has noted a considerable reduction in diarrhoeal cases. School attendance has greatly improved because of this. Through the WASH program, the project supported the

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One of the latrines constructed through the support of APHIAplus Western Kenya

building of two blocks of threedoor ventilation improved pit (VIP) latrines with one specifically dedicated to female pupils. The project also supported the setting up of hand-washing facilities near the pit latrines. Phoebe Olesi, chairlady of the school’s health club says, “We’ve learned effective methods of teaching pupils hygiene practices including the proper way to wash their hands and maintain cleanliness after using latrines. After the training we provided soap at hand washing points and emphasized on the importance washing hands with the soap after using latrines.” Before construction of the new latrines pupils had to queue for long to relieve themselves while others used nearby bushes or waited till they got home. The situation used to be worse for females experiencing their monthly periods since some would miss school for fear of having to queue for long to change their sanitary towels. The school is optimistic about its mock examination results later in the year. The Head teacher, Mr. Wesangula, affirms that the WASH program has led to a spike in school attendance. “There is a drop in absenteeism and enrollment has

The WASH program has led to a spike in school attendance, there is a drop in absenteeism and enrollment has increased from 181 to 495 students
increased from 181 to 495 students”, he says. The APHIAplus project, working in partnership with the School Management Committees (SMCs), the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the MOH continue to integrate

WASH in schools in order to create a healthy and child-friendly environment for learning. The project has supported the training of more than 3,000 teachers as ‘Trainers of Trainers’ (ToTs) to support the WASH initiative in the schools and to identify and support the OVCs within the schools. The ToTs train students who become the agents of change in promoting positive health practices both in school and at home. They share with their parents and siblings what they have learnt in the WASH lessons. The WASH activities have been integrated into the life skills education program so that construction of VIP latrines and hand washing facilities are implemented side by side with adolescent reproductive health education within the same schools. In order to create a supportive environment in the community as well as ownership, the project works with SMCs to mobilize local resources to support the construction of the pit latrines. The local community, parents and the SMC provide in-kind support as well as contributing labor while the project supplies building materials and water tanks. This helps to promote a sense of ownership by the local communities.


aith Birgen, a second year student at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) in Kakamega town, is a committed member of the “I Choose Life’ Africa Peer Educators Club. The club was started in the University by ‘I Choose Life’ Africa, a local organization sub granted by the APHIAplus Western Kenya project to implement HIV/ AIDS prevention interventions targeting youth in institutions of higher learning.

Choosing the Right Path; The ‘I Choose Life’ Africa Way
She eventually made the move to join the club. “I joined MMUST in 2011 and in that year I knew I was not safe. I feared getting into a relationship or being dragged into drugs by friends”, says Faith in retrospect. “I kept to myself and this negatively impacted on my social life. I never smiled at men because I believed they were out to destroy me. It was quite a boring life.” Faith intimated that she joined the club because she wanted the certificate that came with the completion of the peer education course. Little did she know that the club would completely reverse the many myths and stereotypes she held about life in campus. “It was a comprehensive and interactive peer education training which included mentorship as well. It helped me grow socially and a passion to be a peer educator developed fast in me”, Faith adds with conviction. She subsequently formed a behavior change communication group called ‘G2G’ (Girl to Girl) that mainly tackled issues affecting girls, and two months down the line, she was featured on the front cover of the Kakamega County Weekly magazine as a role model for girls. With the additional support of ‘I Choose Life’-Africa, she later became active in organizing campaigns, conferences and training programs that addressed gender based violence (GBV). “I no longer fear the freedoms associated with institutions of higher learning because I have been mentored to be a leader and a peer educator. Being around my fellow peers has helped me better understand my environment and its limits” she says. A student in pure applied chemistry, Faith is now more confident about her life choices thanks to the club and is additionally an active participant in theater among other extracurricular activities.

Before joining the club, Faith had for many months hidden behind her books for fear of being enticed into a life of alcohol and drugs. Compared to secondary school, the university offered certain freedoms which she was wary of and was therefore conscious of the type of company she kept to help her stay away from the perceived negative peer pressure.

Faith Birgen a member of the I choose life club


Motorcycle Riders Assisting in
transport expectant mothers to health facilities to deliver their babies. The use of motor cycles, popularly known as boda-boda, to ferry expectant mothers to Kopsiro Health Centre (HC) has boosted the number of skilled deliveries in the health facility leading to a reduction in maternal and newborn deaths. The initiative known as boda-boda ambulance was launched by the Chebyuk Community Unit (CU) (which is linked to Kospiro HC) through the support of APHIAplus Western Kenya project. This was after it was realized that many women were delivering at home under the help of traditional birth attendants because they could not easily access the dispensary due to bad roads and the hilly terrain. The cyclists, who are locals identified and recruited by the Community Health Management Committee (CHC) are reimbursed up to Ksh.500 for ferrying the women at night and up to Ksh.300 during the day. “The number of deliveries at the health facility has increased three-fold since October last year,” says nursing officer-incharge, Mr. Peter Musto Ndiwa. “On average per month, there are now

otorcycle delivery is synonymous with quick dispatch of letters and documents, but in Cheptais Sub-county motorcycle riders

Hellen Sile one of the beneficiaries from the boda boda ambulance

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Investing in Education
continued from pg 1

for a while had difficulties paying his schools fees. However, with help from Family Life Education Program (FLEP), a CBO sub-granted by APHIAplus Western Kenya to support OVCs in Busia County, he was enrolled for school fees support from the project. He is now more hopeful for a brighter future. “When I joined St. Mathias, life was a bit difficult. I was a day scholar and was sent home several times to look for money. I spent a great deal of time just lounging at home not knowing what to do until APHIAplus came to my rescue”, Chrispine says. “But since I started receiving support from APHIAplus, life has changed and my performance has improved because through their help I am now a boarder and I have more time to concentrate on my studies”.

Another beneficiary is seventeen year old Veronica Makokha, a Form Four student at Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Busia County. Orphaned at a young age, Veronica has for many years been living with her grandmother and for a while missed the better part of school for lack of fees before she was enrolled for APHIAplus support. “It has been a long road full of struggles but right now I am studying hard to pass my exams so that I can get good grades and hopefully become a doctor in the near future”, Veronica enthuses. Besides the school fees and levies support, the APHIAplus Western Kenya project has provided uniforms, blankets, and mattresses to many OVCs, and sanitary towels for girls in need. The project also sourced shoes for over 117,000

OVCs. Such benefits not only ensure regular school attendance by the OVCs but also improve their selfesteem. Furthermore, through the project’s support many OVCs have been enrolled into the National Hospital Insurance Fund, a staterun health insurance scheme, and others facilitated to acquire birth certificates.

Veronica Makokha who has benefited from the OVC school fees support

g in Delivering Life, in Cheptais
about 35 deliveries compared to the previous number of 14 when the boda-boda ambulance service was not available.” Although Alex Masai-one of the boda-boda ambulance operators in the region acknowledges the extra money he makes from the service, he gets greater emotional satisfaction from aiding safe births by bringing women in labour to the dispensary. “I am assisting in delivering life! Helping these mothers during these kinds of

I don’t think I would have made it on time if it weren’t for that boda-boda ambulance,”

situations makes me happy because too many times in the past, women have died under the care of traditional birth attendants who are not as wellequipped as the dispensary” he says. Hellen Sile, one of the beneficiaries of the initiative smiles broadly as she narrates her experience. “I come from Kipsigiro, a village near the forest which is very far from Kopsiro HC. I was in great pain when I went into labor but felt relieved when the bodaboda ambulance came for me. I was rushed to Kopsiro where I delivered my child. I don’t think I would have made it on time if it weren’t for that boda-boda ambulance,” she says.

An expectand mother being ferried by one of the boda boda to Chebyuk Health Centre

Project Highlight

Leonida Makokha a member of the adult literacy program


Empowering Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Caregivers Through Education
undergo two hourly lessons twice a week for a period of three months. Thereafter they are followed up until they are able to read, write and perform basic arithmetic skills. “Butula is one of the areas worst affected by the HIV pandemic, and many of the caregivers of OVCs cannot read or write. We want to help them eradicate illiteracy by providing them with basic skills in reading, writing, communication and arithmetic”, Rosemary Aluoch, the adult literacy program supervisor in Butula states. “When we began the classes it all seemed like a very difficult process. Bringing together adults between the ages of 18 and 60 seemed quite tough, but with time we have seen a very big change”, she adds. Through the support of APHIAplus Western Kenya project, 80 caregivers have so far undergone the adult literacy program in the sub-county. Besides gaining literacy skills, they have also been trained on initiation and management of small scale businesses as well as appropriate farming methods and nutrition practices. In April last year, 67 year-old Leonida Makokha who cares for 7 OVCs enrolled into the adult literacy program. In spite of her age she went through the classes with a lot of enthusiasm and can now read and write her own name in addition to supporting her grandchildren in their homework. Even when she confuses some letters while writing, Leonida is

ne of the challenges faced by some of caregivers of OVCs supported by the APHIAplus Western Kenya project is illiteracy. This not only limits their access to information that could help improve the quality of care provided to the OVCs, it also limits their ability to engage in income generating activities. To address this challenge, the Rural Education and Economic Enhancement program (REEP) a local CBO sub granted by the project to support OVCs in Butula Subcounty-Busia County, runs an adult literacy program for such caregivers. A maximum of 30 students are enrolled in each class and they

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Even when she confuses some letters while writing, Leonida is quick to identify her mistakes and make corrections. She is still a bit slow in her writing but hopes she will in time outshine her grandchildren and eventually write faster than they do. “This is one of my greatest achievements in life.
quick to identify her mistakes and make corrections. She is still a bit slow in her writing but hopes she will in time outshine her

grandchildren and eventually write faster than they do. “This is one of my greatest achievements in life. I wanted to know how to write my name and that is now my greatest joy”, she says with jubilation. “The learning has also helped me monitor what my grandchildren are taught in school. I go through their homework and check if the teacher has marked their books and when I see nothing written, I know that the child did not go to school. Education is very important and I want my grandchildren to take it seriously.” She adds. On the days that she attends classes, Leonida does her house chores very early to avoid burdening her grandchildren with a lot of chores in the evening when they are back home from school and instead allow them to concentrate on their homework. She now fully appreciates the value of education. Justus Sylvester Owino is another adult learner enrolled in the programme. At 58 he has been selling charcoal for the better part of his life. Before joining the classes he was never sure of the profit he made from the trade due to his inability to carry out simple arithmetic. It is six months since he joined the adult literacy program and is now all smiles at how his business seems to be thriving thanks to the literacy program.

Joining Hands; Community Builds Latrine for Widows
hen her pit latrine was swept away by flood waters, 61 year old Prisca Atieno resorted to using the open bush as her toilet – an embarrassing ordeal especially when hosting visitors in her homestead located in Kowuor village, Karachuonyo in Homa Bay County. Widowed several years ago, Prisca shared a pit latrine with her co-wife Rispar. The latrine had been constructed by their only son, but was unfortunately washed away by flood water some months after the son’s death. The two widows were left with no option but to use the open bush. Later, at a community dialogue day organized by Kowuor CU through support from the APHIAplus Western Kenya Project, the widows discovered that theirs was not an isolated case as many of the region’s residents did not have functional latrines. The matter was discussed at length and it was then decided that the area Chief would take action against those who failed to put up latrines in their homesteads within the allotted two-week time frame. The community however acknowledged that the two elderly widows were among those community members who could not marshal the physical strength or financial resources to put up the latrines. The community members therefore resolved to bail them out and within a week they had a pit latrine in their homestead. At the completion of the construction, an elated Prisca said, ‘‘I am happy to have a latrine after so many years of exposing myself to embarrassment and the health risks associated with open defecation’’.


Members of the adult literacy program in Butula Rispar washes her hands after visiting the latrine


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1. APHIAplus Western Chief of Party, Dr. Ambrose Misore-handing over a certificate of excellence award to SONY sugar company 2. Workers of Kebirigo tea factoy undertaking a condom demonstration exercise during an outreach

3. Community health care workers supporting in the anti-jiggers campaign in Siaya 4. APHIAplus staff handing over gifts to prisoners at Kodiaga prison



5. Sarah Omolo a community health worker under Nyajuok CU in Alego,Siaya testing for malaria in the community 6. Ministy of health staff undertaking VMMC in Kocholia District hospital

This Newsletter is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of Cooperative Agreement number AID-623-A-11-00002. The contents are the responsibility of PATH and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. Copyright 2013, PATH. All rights reserved. Editorial Team: Rael Odengo, Mark Okundi, Celestine Asena, Juma Mwatsefu, Dr. Mukabi James, Cornelius Kondo, Wamalwa Masibo, Dr. Edward Kariithi, Oby Obyerodhyambo, Jolayne Houtz and Rose Thuo. Graphic design: Media Reach Communications Contributors: Dr. Ambrose Misore, Rikka Trangsrud Kakamega Office: Kenafya Building, Okwemba Road P.O.Box 1330-50100, Kakamega - Kenya Cell: +254 723 990 242 Bungoma Office: Tel: +254 055 30394

Office contacts
Kisumu Office: Mega City, Mezzanine Floor along Nairobi Road P.O. Box 19128 - 40123, Kisumu - Kenya, +254 070 213 149 Migori Office: +254 020 2337186

Email: info@aphiapluswesternkenya All rights reserved APHIAplus Western Kenya ©2013

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