LVCT Health

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May 2018

A Clinician’s experience in working in Korogocho, an informal settlement in Nairobi

Growing up, most of my schooling took place in a rural setting until the age of eighteen when I moved to Nairobi city for my college education. While living in the rural area I used to hear fascinating stories about life in the city, and I longed to experience that urban life. My dream came true after completing my college education. I secured a job as a Nurse Counsellor at LVCT Health.

Statistics at the time revealed that HIV/AIDS burden was high within informal settlements, which warranted the need for health services and prevention of new HIV infections. I was deployed at the Korogocho site, one of the heavily populated informal settlement in Nairobi. It is an area inhabited by a closed community and the poor living conditions increase vulnerability to diseases. Extreme poverty is one of the factors that lead the residents to engage in illegal businesses such as selling illicit brews.

Incidences of crime were also at an all-time high and many residents engaged in commercial sex work, putting them at higher risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. I recall that my experience as a health worker and an “outsider” in the slum was nerve wracking.

One day I was attacked and robbed off all my money and valuables by a group of young men in broad day light. I pleaded with them, “I am a nurse and I usually work here and offer you health services “. “That is good daktari”, they retorted, adding that they had had nothing to eat for the whole day. “Surrender everything that you have or else we will harm you.” one of the attackers said. “Welcome to Korogocho, the beautiful palace of hustlers where we also deal harshly with strangers who interfere with our women.” said another.

Since I would be dealing largely with girls and young women in the area, this spelt trouble. I narrated my ordeal to the other health service providers who had worked in the area for some time before I joined them. They encouraged me to soldier on and assured me that soon the community would realise my mission and accept me.

I started interacting with the community members and leaders on a one-on-one basis, even going to as far as far as getting media engagement on local radio – Koch FM in an effort to get the message across on how critical HIV prevention was in the area and how PrEP, a drug that prevents HIV infection would help. Gradually I slowly started making friends and getting acclimatized to the area.

Girls and young women started seeking health services at the health facility and soon brought their peers to join the HIV prevention programme. The number of girls and young women taking PrEP has since increased tremendously. This will go a long way in reduction of new HIV infections in the area.

LVCT Health implements HIV prevention programmes within the informal settlements where HIV prevalence is high. In Korogocho we implemented the Introducing PrEP into HIV Combination, or IPCP project (2015-2017), which focused on reaching young women at risk of being exposed to HIV in this area. Our Project implementers answered their questions, counselled them through the effort to adhere to a daily regime, and collected evidence that would inform others about how to deliver PrEP as part of an HIV combination prevention package in Kenya.

We are currently implementing the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored, and Safe Lives (DREAMS) programme in Korogocho funded by PEPFAR through CDC Kenya,  https://www.pepfar.gov/partnerships/ppp/dreams/ that focuses on the adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aged 10-24years. DREAMS is delivered through multiple interventions, which are layered to address both risk and vulnerability that affect the adolescent girls and young women. The AGYW are offered a package of services that includes cash transfers, education subsidies and social protection.

 

Alfred Itunga talked to Fred Maweu in October 2017

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Comments

  1. Lawrence Otieno

    Dear Sir/Madam
    RE: REQUESTING FOR YOUR SUPPORT

    Kisure Sport is a blogging platform that mainly deals with football sports news that aims
    to promote change to the society by organizing events that will teach the youths on how to interact differently in the Community through sports.

    We are planning to organize a sports event that will also have other activities like teaching about firefighting skills due to some of Kenyan Ghetto’s houses being rapidly reported of fire incidents grown over the past years, in partnership with CADVES GROUP ORGANIZATION, BLACK CLARITY PICTURES, KOCH FINEST, INSPIRE MUSIC AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.

    CADVES group organization partnering with other strategic partners in the private and public sector have been going round all willing secondary schools, interested corporate companies and institutions in Kenya offering training to students and employees on the fire safety management and first Aid skills.

    Topics to be covered include;
    Entrepreneurship, Talent shows through Sports awareness, Guiding and counseling, empowering youths, online self-employment, life skills, Drugs awareness, tomorrow leadership, Management, Community, Fire losses, Fire safety laws, Characteristics and behavior of fire, Fire safety & Emergency procedures, Common causes of fire, Workplace/ Dormitory Fire safety precautions, Fire drills and evacuation procedures, Choosing the right extinguishers.

    The platform will be used to educate the young leaders in slums to aim higher in life to avoid drug abuse and to help others find good rehabilitation centers because the youths of Korogocho have potential & deserve better than what they have to do great things that can change the nation.
    We would need your support in various things so we can strategize for the events. Any support towards this initiative would be held in high regard.
    List of some things we would like the Tomorrow Leaders Organization to help us with so we can help motivate the youths for their tomorrow future are:
     Mentors
     Football Kits
     Awareness T-Shirts
     Awards For Artist And Players
     Trophy For Winning Team
     Talent Search
     Creating Opportunity For The Youths
    The event will surely help the youths of Korogocho slums gain more help and ideology so that they can better their life and others and through that, they can make a difference in the community. We are looking forward to hear from you very soon to discuss more about the event since we would like the event to be Held on August 2019.
    Hope you find this information in good faith because we depend on your help to hold the event as we are also doing our best to help the youth do much with their life.
    Thank you in advance hope to get positive reply that will help us reach our goals with the youths in Korogocho and we hope to make this movement help every person in Kenya thus increasing awareness to the Leaders of Tomorrow.

    Respectfully,

    Alphonce Otieno Munjal
    Founder Kisure Sports

    Lawrence Otieno Ojiambo
    CO-Founder Kisure Sports

    P.S. – We hope to hear from you very soon hopefully so we can have easy the planning of the event.