"I am a mother! I am supposed to know everything!" Coronavirus in Kenya

Posted on
25th Mar 2020
by Ellie Dawes

Many of us in the UK have been keeping a keen eye on developments in other countries this week, as the world watches how each country in turn moves to deal with the global health crisis. At Child.org, the vulnerable women and families who participate in our programmes are a top priority, here's what we've been hearing from them...

The following updates come direct from members of our Kenyan team and community, I'm publishing them from me in the UK because at present there are some government restrictions on publishing information about the virus online (to control the spread of misinformation). We don't think this update falls foul of these rules - but we want to make double sure that all the Child.org team are absolutely in line with government policy.


“Every time when I close my eyes, I can't help but wonder how will we get through this? How do I protect my family? What do I know about this Corona, what do I tell my kids? I am a mother! I am supposed to know everything. I have never felt this helpless and unsure before.”  These were the words of one of our mums in regards to the Covid19 pandemic in Kenya. 

On March 13th 2020, Kenya's health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe confirmed the first case of coronavirus. Since that day the cases have gradually increased to 28 confirmed cases with hundreds more suspected.

Members of the Child.org team have spent the last week calling the mums who were participants in Child.org's Baby Box programme, and found widespread fear and anxiety. People told us that they dread every second there is a headline on the presidential press briefing because they know they will not love the news.

“I'm worried, we do not understand anything, we don't understand if the transmission is through the air.” Most people living in the informal settlements in Nairobi do not have enough basic knowledge on how to respond to this pandemic. They told us:

“I need information on what Corona is, the symptoms, how to differentiate those symptoms from a common flu and how to prevent it.” 

“It is very bad, I don't know what to do. I need education on how to avoid it. Where will we get food if we are not working?” 

There is a huge need for detailed information on how to get through this pandemic to reach these communities. Most people we spoke to could not describe all the symptoms. In a scenario where people do not understand the symptoms, they can get the virus and keep interacting with people assuming it is a minor infection and will be over soon. Before this is discovered it might cause a whole lot of damage that as a country we can not contain. There is a huge need in creating awareness around this pandemic. 

“The government is making us so scared and not telling us how big this coronavirus is.”

Child.org are concerned about the climate of fear that we're noticing in Kenya, and the team are keen to sensitize people to be informed rather than creating fear without awareness. Information needs to be created in a simple and convenient way so that everyone can understand and access it.

“I am scared, we are in a place where there are so many people.” “I feel anxious about the whole situation. I am scared that now my child is learning to walk and very playful, I can not contain the situation and protect him enough.” 

In Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, the population of people living in the informal settlement is estimated to be 1.7 million. 

The photo of Kibera, Nariobi, (above) demonstrates how close together people are living in these areas. The people living here are very concerned about the speed at which the virus might spread if even one person becomes infected. 

“I would love to stay at home, but I can not, if I do, what will we eat? Even money to buy the soap is a problem!” 

Many of the people who live here are living from hand to mouth. It is hard for a good number of people to stay at home, as advised to be the best form of controlling the virus spread. Most have families looking up on them to place food on the table. Self quarantine is the best option - but it might not be possible for many of the people living here.

Taking positive action against the virus

There are lots of reasons to be positive - we've seen early and positive action against the virus in Kenya. The Government of Kenya are introducing more stringent measures earlier than many other countries which is likely to slow transmission. In informal settlements, Community Health Volunteers have been going from house to house to improve people's understanding of infection and the need to stay home. On Monday, the president said they are looking into ways to support small businesses and the people -  they are holding meetings with the private sector.

Child.org are conducting health need assessments to discover where we can meet the most urgent need for health information and resources. In Meru (rural Kenya), we're investigating ways to reach the pregnant women from our Pregnant Women's Groups (as the meetings have currently been put on hold). We hope to reach these women with a new text message system - we're concerned that the fear we're hearing from people will stop pregnant women from seeking the healthcare they need to keep themselves and their babies safe. We're also seeing a real lack of handwashing facilities and protective equipment like masks in the healthcare facilities we're working with. 

Child.org are small and agile. Our team are experts at moving fast and adapting our work. However, meeting these new challenges is particularly difficult when we have just experienced such a sudden loss in income, due to the cancellation of events and travel in the UK and elsewhere. If you are able to, please donate to our urgent coronavirus appeal, be agile and adapt your fundraising, and you can help us to suport these communities and adapt our work. 

Corona memes from the Kenyan team...

"As a country, humor has always gotten us through dark times, being a ‘meme lord’ is quite a thing here. Here are some memes that might keep you smiling even in this dark times..."


“The empowerment of Women is smart economics” - why our Team Mum Kangas say ‘Afya ya mama, ubora wa jamii!’

Posted on
13th Mar 2020
by Lucy Ndegwa

‘Afya ya mama, ubora wa jamii’ is our kanga tagline.

The Kanga is a traditional garment mostly used in African regions by women to tie around their waist as a wrap skirt, carry babies on their backs, folded to form a base to carry luggage on the head among other uses. Since the early 1900s, kangas have been printed with a proverbial phrase or proverb. The phrase is very important, it is used to educate, counsel or communicate emotions. For our Team Mum kangas, we chose the phrase ‘Afya ya mama ubora wa jamii’, which means “a mother's health is of great impact to society”. From our own work and from wider research in our sector, Child.org know that if mothers are provided with good maternal health, the babies are born and brought up in a healthy space where they become more productive - impacting the success of the whole society.

The Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KBS) reported a population of 47,564,296 people in 2019 of which 24,014,716 were female, 23,548,056 were male and 1,524 were intersex. These numbers indicate a huge growth in women population and a call for women inclusivity in economic development participation. Economic Development of a country depends on quality and quantity of the human resource available in the country. 

The World Bank’s Human Capital Project has consistently highlighted women as an underutilised resource for developing economies around the world: “Empowering women, while also investing in the human capital of young people, allows countries to achieve the ‘sweet spot’ of the demographic dividend. This sweet spot hits when the economy, fueled by skilled, productively employed and healthy workers, grows faster than the population.” (To build human capital, prioritize women’s empowerment, Annette Dixon, 2008)

Former President of World Bank Robert Zoellick said in the World Bank Spring Meetings, April 2008: “One motivation for women’s empowerment is basic fairness and decency. Young girls should have the exact same opportunities that boys do to lead full and productive lives. … The empowerment of women is smart economics.” 

Smart economics must include women empowerment, women should have control over their lives. They deserve equal opportunities in accessing health, education and participation in social decisions that involve them. Women in rural areas have a hard time accessing such opportunities, the cultural chains in the rural setup are tighter. Negative cultural practices like female genital mutilation, gender based violence and women discrimination are some but a few issues keeping women from reaching their potential.

‘‘If you educate a man an individual is educated, if you educate a woman the entire family is educated.’’  

When Child.org surveyed 5,700 rural poor pregnant women in Meru Kenya at the start of this year, we found that  43.3% of those who responded had not completed education; 4.1% never attended school and 39.2% attempted primary school but did not complete. The study exhibited low levels of education among the women hence limited engagement in income generating activities thus dependency on partners for economic support. This dependancy can too often lead to exploitation, stigma and discrimination. Additionally dependency resulted in poverty levels rising. 

Donata (below) is one of the mums from one of our projects in Meru - she featured in our Team Mum campaign last year. When we asked her what she wished she’d been told before she became a mum, she said: “Finish school. I dropped out and got married - do not rush to get married.  Without education, someone will look down on you.”

If young girls are taught about the importance of completing their education and gaining knowledge, then they can gain skills to participate in safe decisions over their lives and economic activities, hence reduction in dependency rates and rise in the GDP from the family unit to the society at large.

Afya ya mama ubora wa jamii! Here are some photos of the Child.org team, trying out a sample of our new Team Mum Kangas. (After receiving feedback from the mamas in Meru, we swapped the colours of the kanga to include less white - I’ll share some photos of the new design colours when they arrive.)

“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” Koffi Annan. 

Call for Team Mum partners 2020

Posted on
16th Oct 2019
by Amanjit Dhillon

Earlier this year, Child.org's Team Mum campaign achieved over 10 million opportunities to view, and raised over £500,000 in donations, Gift Aid and matched funding from the UK government.

Next year we're coming back - bigger and better than ever. In 2020, Team Mum hope to raise enough to bring pregnant women's groups to a new area of Kenya, this time working specifically with very young mums.

We're also hoping to launch the next iteration of our Baby Box Project - providing more mums with the latest safe sleeping information, and babies with a safe place to be. 

A big campaign like this from a small charity requires months of planning and support from people like you!

Here's how you can help right now... 

1. Tell us who we should be working with!

Do you listen to a fab parenting podcast, get a great magazine or know someone running wonderful mum and baby classes? We would love to hear your suggestions of where you would like to see (or hear) Team Mum next year. Please email me your suggestions for Team Mum Partners at ami@child.org. Being able to cite a recommendation from you really helps us to make that approach.

For inspiration, check out the list of partners from last time at child.org/teammum.

2. Join us as a partner!

Do you have a way to reach a UK parenting audience and let them know about Team Mum? Please fill in this form to pledge to Sell One Thing and donate the proceeds during the appeal in 2020.

We'll use your pledge to apply to the UK government for UK Aid Match. If you can contribute a reach of over 300,000 - please email me at ami@child.org about planning some joint activity, or give me a ring on the Child.org UK office mobile - 07751768207.

Empowering mums like Winfred makes babies safer. Read Winfred's story, shared during the 2019 Team Mum appeal.


What are we doing with the money you raised last time?

Child.org's programming team are working hard to create the pregnancy support group programme funded by our 2019 campaign and matched funding from the UK Government. We've hired a new member of the team, Dorothy, who will be based in Meru. Dorothy, Chero and Margaret (from our partner organisaion in Meru) have been conducting meetings with the ministry of health in the country to organise close collaboration, and the team are all working on the Pregnancy Support Groups Manual, which will instruct social mobilisers on how to run the support groups and contain all the information to provide to expectant mums. More news on this to come, to hear all about it, get our newsletter. 

Announcing Laura Winter as our Ride Africa ambassador!

Posted on
10th May 2019
by Jamie Chisholm

We're thrilled to have sports presenter Laura on board to ride in November, and to help us promote Ride Africa.

Laura said, "I am so incredibly excited and grateful to be a Ride Africa ambassador, taking on November’s ride. As soon as the team got in touch, I jumped at the chance to be involved - cycling through Africa on the adventure of a lifetime, to help change the lives of women and girls? It is a no-brainer. Cycling has been life-changing for me. I have fallen in love with this sport and to use the power of turning the pedals to help others is a true privilege. 

"If you feel you can help, either through donating or signing up to the ride yourself, come join me! Together we can make a real difference."

The ride is an epic 6 day adventure challenge covering 450KM across Kenya’s breathtaking landscape, starting in Nairobi and finishing in the rural community of Meru where Child.org are funding vital pregnancy support projects. 

Ride Africa is a fully supported event, with riders being guided and motivated by Kenyan cycling legend David Kinjah, the man who discovered and mentored Chris Froome as a teenager! What appealed to Laura beyond the social impact and riding in Africa, is that this event engages a broad cross section of both experienced and less experienced riders as well as attracting at least as many women as men, all united in making a real difference. Some training is definitely required and there are both fundraising and non-fundraising options available, which both offer this life-changing experience at great value.

About Laura
Laura has always been immersed in sport, competing for 12 years in swimming, then rowing but has now found her true calling in cycling, riding many miles most weeks socially, when she’s not presenting professional cycle races from all over the world!  Through her passion for cycling, women’s sport and journalism Laura has become one of the UK’s leading ambassadors for women’s cycling. Whatever she is covering she is vivacious, caring, engaging and inspiring, so Child.org know she will be a great asset for Ride Africa and all the amazing work they do for children growing up in some of the most difficult environments in the world.

In her busiest year to date, Laura’s presenting talents are in high demand from Eurosport, BT Sport, BBC Sport and ITV Cycling across a diverse portfolio of sport which, beyond cycling, includes motorsport, cricket, rugby, swimming, rowing, netball and athletics. She is also busy hosting lots of events usually centred around championing women’s sport in some way, as well as being a founding member of Voxwomen, the first dedicated women’s cycling TV show in the world.

Laura’s ambassadorial role will see her support the marketing and communication of Ride Africa by helping with marketing content, attending events, recruiting riders and fundraising in the lead up to riding and documenting the event itself in November.

We at Child.org believe that our current Ride Africa: Kenya route is our most spectacular yet. Laura and the team of November riders will ride through National parks, past the rift valley, skirt Mount Kenya and stop for drinks at Thompson Falls. All riders are fully supported with transfers, provision of high quality mountain bikes, guides, mechanical support, medical support, food and drink stations, support vehicles and lots more.

The hotel accommodation is hand-picked for its location and hospitality, with the all-important food being exactly what’s required for hungry cyclists!

Laura and the team at Child.org are still looking for more riders to join this life-changing ride. You don’t need to be an elite cyclist, just prepared to put some training in.

Join Laura in November

Donate to support Laura's fundraising

Baby Box Pilot - a report

Posted on
11th Mar 2019
by Ellie Dawes

The results are in and the report is out. You gave us the money to run a Baby Box programme, here's what we achieved with it.

Baby Boxes have been making news in the UK for a few years, with research and debates ongoing into how they help families in Scotland and Finland (or shoppers at Lidl). But there's been precious little research into whether this innovative intervention might be useful in a low-income country like Kenya. Our small pilot programme provides a glimpse into their potential. 

The Baby Box Pilot was Child.org's first mother and newborn programme, and the first delivered direct by our Team in Nairobi. It was also funded by our first ever Christmas appeal - £6000 raised from individual donations from UK supporters and matched by the Bush Hospital Foundation.

Between June and December 2018, Child.org used that money to deliver 483 specially-designed Baby Boxes to mothers with newborn babies living in informal settlements ("Slums") in Nairobi County, Kenya. Each box included a mattress, two sheets, a cellular blanket and a mosquito net, and was printed with safe sleeping advice. 

The aims

Using the baby boxes, Child.org wanted to:

  • Encourage more mums to access postnatal care services
  • ​Provide new mums with safe sleeping information and a safe place for their baby to sleep

Our research and programme development aims were:

  • To initiate maternal health programming for Child.org
  • To learn about potential opportunities for Child.org to make a significant constructive contribution to maternal and neonatal health programming in Kenya
  • To assess the efficacy of the Baby Box as an incentive to access services from a government health facility in Kenya
  • To assess the potential impact and value of the Box itself in the Kenyan context to determine whether a Box could be a useful intervention for Kenyan mums and babies

The results of this pilot were astounding

More families accessed vital health services, and life threatening infections were identified earlier. Mums had a far better understanding of the safest way to put their baby to sleep. Our extensive surveys and the experience of running the programme also highlighted some key opportunities for Child.org to improve the lives of mums and babies in Kenya in the future. Here are some key successes:

  • 96% of mothers accessed postnatal care services following the birth of their baby, compared to only 15% at baseline. The project saw an 81% increase in women and babies accessing life changing services.
  • Improved postnatal care uptake with the provision of the Baby Box meant that health problems were detected early; out of the 11% of mothers that reported a health problem being identified during PNC, 22% were diagnosed with an umbilical cord infection. Cord stump infection is one of the causes of blood infections such as sepsis and tetanus. These contribute to17% of newborn deaths in Kenya.
  • 95% of mothers that received the Box are using it as a place for their baby/babies to sleep either during the night or during the day.
  • Parents are using the Boxes a lot more consistently during the day (93%) and only 2% are putting their baby to sleep in the Boxes at night. This is because co-sleeping is encouraged by medical professionals in Kenya to facilitate breastfeeding. Child.org did not discourage this practice in favour of the Boxes as a place to put baby to sleep at night. (For more information on why this is - download the report, link below.)
  • Before the programme, just 7% of mothers knew that the safest position for a baby to sleep is on their back. After the programme, 43% of mothers knew this.
  • 80% of newborn babies were being exclusively breastfed
  • The number of mothers and babies sleeping under a mosquito net at night increased from 71% to 80%

Surprising facts from the Baby Box report

1. Child.org worked directly with the the Ministry of Health on this programme, and when we discovered gaps in provision of postnatal care - we ran our own training session with staff and volunteers. We also made sure we were using monitoring and evaluation tools and measurements that would work with the data used by the Ministry of Health, so we could share and compare data easily.

2. We initially registered 478 mothers, reserving 22 of our 500 boxes in case any of the mothers had multiple births. This turned out to be prudent because nine mothers in the project had twins. Only one of these mums had a scan, and her scan was inaccurate - so none of those mothers knew they were expecting more than one baby! 

“It has helped me a lot, especially the mosquito net from preventing diseases by malaria.” - Gentrix, mother of twins, Prince and Ashley.

3. In an early focus group, we showed local young mums a prototype of the box and they were shocked, saying that it looked like a sanduku/coffin! To ensure mums wanted to collect and proudly use the box, it had to look like a beautiful crib for a baby, so we worked with illustrator Jaqueline Fryers to create beautiful boxes in a cost-effective black and white. The boxes were printed and manufactured in Kenya.

4. Mums told us that the boxes were most useful as a safe place to put the baby during the day, while they were working or cleaning up. Imagine the impact on your day-to-day life when you're given a safe place to put your baby down, in an environment where that wasn't possible before.

Read the report

Our report outlines the whole story of the programme: the challenges we faced, the things we learned and the families we met. 

Download a digital version

Order a print version

What next?

Right now, Child.org are fundraising to deliver a brand new Baby Box project in Kwale, Kenya, reaching 500 new mums. In this area, there remain major gaps in service provision and uptake, safe sleeping for infants, and partner involvement through pregnancy and delivery. More than just a sleeping device, Baby Boxes tackle all three issues concurrently by acting as a vehicle for for information and an incentive to take up support services.

The Team Mum appeal is raising funds for this right now.

Having learned so much from the Baby Box Pilot, Child.org are always reviewing the opportunities presented and how we can act next. For example, here are some aspects that our team are keen to explore further:

Postnatal care 
Considering the significant gaps we found in the provision of postnatal care while we were delivering this programme, we’re keen to keen to increase the scope of our potential impact on postnatal care rates in Kenya. 

Postnatal depression
We also want to capture more data on the mental health of new mothers. We conducted a small survey of women using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale during the endline evaluation and found that 36% of mothers were found to have symptoms of depression. Mental Health is a much-hidden topic in Kenya and postnatal depression is not discussed with mothers at any time during pre and postnatal care. 

Safe sleeping
We want to address the deficit of data regarding safe sleeping for infants living in informal settlement environments in Nairobi and beyond, through academic study of safe sleeping studies in collaboration with universities in the UK and in Kenya. There is huge scope to find out more about whether sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs) really is leading to more baby deaths in Kenya, and assessing what interventions could save more lives. 


Fund our mum and baby programming

If you like what Child.org are doing to support mums and babies, please consider joining Team Mum Monthly. Your donation will help us reach mums and babies who need our help, and we'll keep you up to date with all the cool stuff you're helping us to do. 

Join Team Mum Monthly

Meet Winfred

Posted on
05th Mar 2019
by Ellie Dawes

Empowering young mums like Winfred makes babies safer.

New mums in Winfred's community lack status. This makes it difficult for them to make decisions about their own health or the health of their babies, and means that many young mums don't seek help when they need it.

When Winfred fell pregnant for the first time, she was still at school. She wanted to continue with her studies, but her parents refused and told her she needed to earn money. Winfred says she was afraid to tell her parents about her pregnancy and when she did, “they changed, and there was no more love again.” 

Now, Winfred lives with her grandmother and is training to work as a hairdresser, and told us she uses family planning too. She struggles with the stigma she faces as a young mum in her community, she says “I am unhappy when I meet a group of people laughing, I think they are laughing at me.” Feeling rejected from their local community can make young mums isolated and vulnerable, because they have no one to ask for help and support.

Watch Winfred's Team Mum video

Happily, Winfred has recently begun a local training programme, funded by Child.org, where she has met other young mums. Learning with other local mums has given Winfred a new perspective on life. She said “I feel free, I feel like I’m my own person. I am happy. I feel like I’m going somewhere with my life, I feel like I can be something in life.” 

By providing support networks to new mums in Winfred’s community, Team Mum’s pregnancy support groups will offer peer support to mums who feel judged and isolated. If you've ever been saved by the support of your female friends, then please do something amazing for young women like Winfred this week. Donate now. Give before 30 April and your donation will be matched by the UK government. 

Baby Boxes - A first look at some results!

Posted on
02nd Nov 2018
by Doreen Omitto

Since the launch of the Baby Box program in May 2018, our team have handed out 380 boxes. We're now getting the first results back that tell us how the boxes are being used, and the impact this is having on families.

The story so far...

Back in May, at the start of the programme, Child.org trained four research assistants to conduct a baseline survey in informal settlements in Westlands, Nairobi. The women surveyed were from Kangemi, Kibagare and Githogoro. This survey consisted of preliminary questions asking the expectant mothers about their knowledge of childcare, maternal health and prenatal care (you can read about the results in Marti's blog here).

In July we started registering pregnant women to receive the boxes when their babies were born. Over a period of three weeks we had 500 women registered. So far we have handed out 380 boxes and will continue until they have all been allocated. We are working itwo health centres in Nairobi.

As with all our new programmes, Child.org worked in an agile way - responding quickly to solve problems. For example, the health centres we were working with initially had some challenges when it came to postnatal care service delivery. We worked quickly to address this to make sure that all women would receive postnatal check ups before they receive the baby box to guarantee their attendance. Thirteen women did not receive the postnatal care at the start of the programme, so for these mums, Child.org organised for two nurses to conduct home visits. We conducted a postnatal care training session, in collaboration with the ministry of health, for the nurses and health care volunteers. This was designed to help build the capacity of their teams, and bridge any gaps in their knowledge which applied to our programme.

After a slow start, things started to pick up in August and we have received a constant flow of women collecting boxes ever since. 

We originally expected to have given out all the baby boxes by the second week of October as we were registering women already in their third trimester. However, we now know that this will not be possible due to various reasons, including:

  • There are sometimes long queues for the postnatal check ups (some women go home instead of waiting)
  • Many mothers do not know their correct scan or due dates, so our estimates about when boxes would be collected were not always correct


What's happening now?

Now that so many boxes have been collected, the team have been visiting families at home to find out how they have been impacted by the programme. (You can read about some of the first mums we visited in this box post.) We have been collecting data on three core areas: 

  • Use of the baby box

  • Breastfeeding

  • Support structures / groups for mums

We have conducted 78 home visits to date, and these are already giving us extremely useful information about the impact of this pilot programme. The results below are from our findings on these home visits, we will collect more in-depth data and information through our endline survey.


Some early findings from our home visits

  • Just 5% (four women) told us they do not use the baby box

One of these mums mentioned that she fears visitors will judge her. Others mentioned that their baby was not comfortable in the box, and that it was not culturally acceptable for a baby to sleep in a baby box


  • 87% only use the baby box during the day

Roughly 10% use the baby box during both the day and the night. This suggests that the boxes themselves do not discourage cosleeping at night. However many mums found the box incredibly useful during the day, particularly those who had to return quickly to work and took the box with them to keep the baby safely by their side. 91% of women told us that they slept with their baby at night. 


  • 54% of women use additional bedding when cold


  • 40% of women only use the bedding provided by Child.org


  • 82% percent of women read the instructions on the lid of the box about safe sleeping

Of these women, we found that 14 did not understand the intructions.


  • 95% of mums received their postnatal check up

And most received it early: 42% of women came back for their post-natal check ups after two weeks, 30% after one week, 3% after three weeks, one percent at 4 weeks, 19% after more than 4 weeks.


  • 96% of women are exclusively breastfeeding

However, 22% reported that they had trouble breastfeeding, with issues including painful breasts, not enough milk being produced, mastitis and the issues with latching the baby to the breast in the correct way. 


  • 33% of women lacked a support system around them

We're discovering more and more that mums, even in bustling Nairobi, lack a source of emotional support and advice.


​We are hoping to have handed out all the baby boxes by November, if not before, and we also hope to begin the endline survey. This is the final question and answer feedback sheet we fill out by interviewing the women who received the baby box. This will be an in-depth survey on maternal and child healthcare that will help us find out the impact of the project, where progress can be made and difficulties solved.

We aim to have the endline survey completed by the end of November. We look forward to sharing the results with you!


You can read more about our Baby Box programme at child.org/babyboxes. If you like the way Child.org do things, please consider supporting us with a donation, so we can reach more mums and babies. Thank you!

This blog was edited by Millie Shoebridge on her Charity Fast-Track Content Placement. If you wish you worked at Child.org, you should apply for Charity Fast-Track

Reaching the end of my Charity Fast-Track content placement

Posted on
08th Oct 2018
by Millie_Shoebridge

Today is my last day in Nairobi, I can hear the city weeping at my departure already.

Perhaps there will not be so dramatic a reaction, but I for one will be sad to leave this clanging, frightening, kind and laid-back city. Looking back at what has been one of the most tightly packed two weeks of my life, I have seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched many an experience that I will do well to remember long into the future.

Starting my first day with the Nairobi Child.org team, Doreen and I headed to Westlands Health Centre where we picked up the Baby Boxes, on the way carrying what was only a small pile of blankets, I managed to trip and fall down some steps. Determined to carry on I shuffled my way around work for the best part of the day before begrudgingly accepting that perhaps some ibuprofen and a support sock might be in order. Returning home later that evening and putting my foot up to rest I realised that the damage was more than just mild. On doctor's orders (I happened to be sharing an Airbnb with one) I spent the next two days recuperating in bed, literally crawling to the bathroom at one point. I told myself it can only get better from here.

Which it did! Now I had the gift of mobility restored to me, I headed out to the Kangemi settlements where Doreen and I met mothers who were three months in to using their Baby Boxes. Doreen carried out her survey on the usage and effectiveness of the box whilst I interviewed the mothers on their experience of motherhood, personal history and collected advice for our Team Mum campaign. Chris, the community health volunteer who took us around, was an undeniably great help, someone trusted by the mothers and who was on hand to answer any post-natal questions.

Over my first weekend I frequented the national museum and to my absolute delight met three lovely cats who had nothing to do with the museum, but it was probably the best part of that day, that sounds terrible I know.

Starting my second week, Doreen and I (we are quite the power couple by this point) headed off to Meru at 5 AM on Tuesday, arriving sooner than we thought due to our driver’s high concern for the speed limit. Our work here was to conduct interviews and photograph women from the agricultural groups and new mothers partaking in the nutritional seminars.

Margaret, who heads the CIFORD office in Meru explained the programmes' work, how they are implemented and what form she hopes they will take in the future. She took us to meet groups at different stages of their agricultural training and they showed us around their kitchen gardens, explained to us their new initiatives of saving water by re-using what they washed their clothes and utensils in and proudly displayed their kales, tomatoes and potatoes.

Many had goats, cows and rabbits which is made possible through the micro-finance scheme that runs within the agricultural groups. Women can borrow and lend money to one another through a collection pool that occurs weekly, many spoke highly of the scheme and hoped in the future to use it to purchase more animals and farming equipment.  

We must offer our thanks to the Soroptimists of Great Britain and Ireland for their three-year long support of the Meru Women’s Garden Project. At the end of this month they have their annual conference, so we filmed a video of Margret with some of the women saying thanks, having a sing and a boogie.

When visiting the Nutritional groups, as well as the continuous voicing of appreciation of learning how to provide a balanced diet for themselves and their children, was the acknowledgment of the support gained from meeting other women in similar situations. Many opened up about how alone they felt in their pregnancies, all were 22 years or younger at the time and many fathers of the babies had left them. Having a safe place to communicate, laugh and lean on one another has increased their confidence, feelings of self-worth and hope for their future. An unmeasurable success.

Returning to Nairobi, I spent the Friday doing paperwork, a welcome respite from the long hot days spent in rural Kenya, the burn on my neck can vouch for the heat.

My last weekend was spent visiting the gorgeous if slightly slobbery giraffes at the sanctuary and mountain biking through Karura Forest with new friends. 

All in all, it has been such a thoroughly appreciated and fantastic placement. My heartfelt thanks go to all the Child.org team for making this happening but especially Ellie and the Nairobi office. Your advice, co-ordination, assistance and comradery for putting up with my unrelenting questions about the country from corruption, cultural taboos to religion. These conversations with you have offered me an insight into a country and a continent too often mis-portrayed back at home.

I recommend all future Charity Fast-Trackers to grab opportunities like this one. It may sometimes be difficult or feel strange but that is often quite the brilliance of it.


 If you want to train yourself for a fantastic charity career, you should apply for Charity Fast-Track 2019! Find details here on the Utopy website.




Last day in the Nairobi office

Posted on
31st Aug 2018
by Amelia Stanley and Rona Hardie

It’s our last day in Nairobi, so we thought we’d share with you some of our experiences. We’ve spent the last two weeks using the mornings to visit clinics where mums were collecting baby boxes and visiting mothers’ homes for follow-up surveys on their use of the boxes. We worked alongside the programming activities to collect photos and stories. Most afternoons were spent organising our material, writing blogs and any other comms content.

We also tried something new for Child.org, collecting contact details of the mothers to report back on how their photos and stories are used. We thought it would be nice to also send the families some of the pictures taken so they had their own copies. So now every mum photographed will have either a digital or hard copy of their photo. 

The placement has been very rewarding and varied, and we both agree that we’ve loved every minute (even spending an evening in hospital when Meli fell in a ditch). We have had such great support from the Child.org Nairobi team and it’s been so fun to go out in the field with Faith and Doreen and get to know them properly. Despite their reluctance, we have also been able to take photos and videos of the Child.org Nairobi team here to share more about the work they are doing.


Silvia and Leonard insisted that their chicken be included in the photo ...and eventually Rona too

We have been able to collect 16 in-depth stories, the photos of 38 mums and 33 Team Mum tips, that will help the communications team with the Team Mum funding application that has been sent off to the Department for International Development. We are really excited about this campaign and hope our content will help launch it. Find out more about the appeal here.

We’ve loved collecting empowering and happy photos of these incredible mums and their invariably cute babies (and the occasional chicken). We have been so lucky to hear so many people’s stories, giving us a real insight into life here in Kenya and especially Nairobi. We are sure you will be seeing more content from us over the next few months, including the amazing Tyson’s story. Tyson volunteers in the Child.org Nairobi office helping Carrie with Ride Africa but has a long history with Child.org. 



Amelia and Community Health Volunteer, Ammey enjoying Mendazi while out in the field for a home visit.

Finally, a bit about Kenyan culture and most importantly food! We’ve become hooked on Mendazi (pictured above), Kenyan deep fried cakes which we’ll be missing on our return to the UK. We have also decided we will be taking our ugali making skills back home with us. We’ve had a chance to learn a few words of Swahili, which has made our experience even more worthwhile because we were able to converse more with the mothers. Our attempts at pronunciation have given us a way to make them laugh whilst taking photos. It has also been really interesting to hear different perspectives and views on the politics and social system here, with the last election being only last year. 

To sum up, our Charity Fast-Track content and communications placement in Nairobi has been an incredible and worthwhile experience; we feel as though we’ve gathered some really useful communications material and spoken to some amazing women, as well as very much enjoying ourselves! Faith and Dorreen wanted to add, "The last two weeks with you guys have been amazing, time flew by very fast, we hope to see you again." 

TOP PHOTO: In the Child.org Nairobi Office: Amelia, Tyson, Faith, Rona, Doreen and Marti.


To find out more about this placement, you can read all of Amelia and Rona's blogs here. If you want to train yourself for a fantastic charity career, you should apply for Charity Fast-Track 2019! Find details here on the Utopy website.

First baby box surveys in!

Posted on
27th Aug 2018
by Amelia Stanley and Rona Hardie

Baby Rayne in her Baby Box.

We’ve now reached a new phase in the baby box pilot, where we are visiting mums in their homes one month after they have received the boxes to see how they’re being used. The first four follow-up surveys took place on Friday, and the Nairobi team were very pleased with the results.

It was great to hear that the four mothers surveyed had all gone for their postnatal check-ups (one of the initial aims of the baby box programme) and that three out of four of the mums had read the instructions on the lid of the box. Most of them mentioned that the mosquito net was a very important addition for the safety of the babies and they may not have got them if they were not provided.

Mum, Lilian, with baby Steven

From our point of view, it was very positive to see that the boxes were still being used and were still in good shape after a month. Fenicah, one of the first mums, said that she used the box a lot during the day, and occasionally at night, and that it was especially useful when she was working. Harriet, said that her baby Neema was happiest when he was in the box, and that he slept more soundly at night because the mosquito net stopped him from being bitten. Most of the women so far have found the box especially useful during the day when they’re working and cooking. Sarah, who has twins with a baby box each, finds the baby boxes useful because it means that the babies each have their own space, and said that the boxes help them sleep. 

Mum, Sarah, with her twins, Branice and Broiyne

As well as following up on how the boxes were being used, the surveys are also a good opportunity to check up on the health of the mums and babies. A few of the mums we visited were struggling with breastfeeding, or were anxious about how to continue when they returned to work. The Community Health Volunteers, Ammey and Chris, who came out with us, were able to use some of the training they’d received on the postnatal training day the day before to advise the mothers.

This is just a taster of the results of the baby box programme, but obviously lots more surveys are required before the definitive conclusions can be drawn. From the four mothers and five babies we met, we saw that the baby boxes are making a real difference to their lives.

Amelia and Rona are on a Charity Fast-Track placement in Nairobi with the Child.org programming team. They will learn about how our comms team collects and uses stories and other content from our programmes, while they collect valuable content for Child.org. They're also taking over the Child.org Instagram for two weeks! Follow their posts at instagram.com/childdotorg and see all thier blogs here.


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