For two years, Comic Relief have been funding this stage of HealthStart in 25 schools in Kisumu county. The two years will come to an end in April, so we're finishing up our work with the current schools, rolling out our final activities (including the distrubution of our brand new School Health Guide), and collecting the evidence to find out what worked.
Clare, our Programming Officer, is in Kisumu for the coming weeks, working with our partners at Ogra to collect all the necessary data to assess the impact of this stage of HealthStart. She's joined by 2017 Charity Apprentice alumni Laura and Nikki, on a work placement to assist with the wrapping up of this stage of the programme. Meanwhile, Programming Officer Cherio is organising a full evaluation of the programme, which we're arranging to be conducted by external evaluators.
We'll be leaving our 25 schools, but they'll still be HealthStart schools. HealthStart schools are schools that make the health of their pupils and community a priority and are equipped with the knowledge, contacts and resources they need to tackle the problems they identify. We're confident that the work we've done with these schools means that the impact of the programme will continue, without Child.org funding and involvement, for years to come.
Pictured above is headmaster Dan from Thurbie primary school. A priority for Dan during the HealthStart programme has been to install handwashing facilities and toilets. In recent months, an outbreak of cholera has struck the local area. Teaching children about the importance of handwashing has helped to keep more children safe, and they have also been encouraged to pass on this knowledge to people at home.
To raise more funds for school facilities, Dan asked parents to make a small financial contribution which he spent… on two sheep. The sheep are living and breeding happily in the school playing field, and the school now have six sheep! By breeding and selling sheep, Dan hopes to generate reliable, steady income for the school.
So where next for HealthStart? We're researching where to take the programme next, and are interested in trialling the programme in a different area of Kenya, to prove it can work outside Kisumu. We'll be applying for funding for this new phase early this year - so watch this space!