News & Events
Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has featured the success of the Lwala Community Alliance’s maternal and child health outreach program on its blog. Click here to read more!
In Lwala’s community, 95% of women are delivering their babies with a nurse in a safe health facility.
That’s big change from several years ago, when only 26% of moms had access to safe deliveries. New moms have this support because of you – helping us build a new maternity health wing on the Lwala Community Hospital and mobilizing intensive door-to-door outreach to pregnant women.
Support a new mom this Mother’s Day. You’ll give the gift of a safe delivery and a robust range of services including prenatal care, education on health and nutrition, and a good start to a new baby.
My name is Cat Lockman, and my first trip to Africa was earlier this year in January. I visited Kenya, staying on-site at Lwala Community Alliance’s facility in the very rural North Kamagambo area, in Migori county. It wasn’t the first time in my professional role that I’d visited rural communities or local nonprofit groups, but it was definitely the most memorable for me – both personally and professionally. While there, I piloted the first steps of a new partnership with Watsi, a unique crowd-sourcing funding model. Check them out at watsi.org.
Piloting this program was one of the first projects in my new role at Lwala Community Alliance, where I serve as the Director of Partnerships and Communication. Keep in mind that most of my career time is spent in Washington D.C., New York and other places that people in the international development field gather to talk program design and impact evaluation. In this field of work, it’s how we know we’re doing a good job.
By contrast, in the village of Lwala, I spent a good deal of my time visiting local women in the community in their modest homes – like Alice’s home, pictured in this photo behind her. Through those visits, women shared their perspectives on what program impact means to them as I gathered their personal stories to launch the Watsi program.
First, I felt very odd and somewhat uncomfortable dropping in on women during really busy days without an invitation and asking them to talk about their personal stories. This felt a lot more personal than writing a needs assessment section on a proposal!
I walked around the village and outlaying areas with one or two of Lwala’s community health workers. The local community is quite rural, about an hour from a main, paved road — and made up of small farms, dirt roads and paths. We’d approach a family’s home, call out a greeting, and pop right in to family courtyards busy with children and animals, food prep and dishwashing operations. Everyone was occupied with chores, and every single woman whom we approached stopped what she was doing to invite us in for a visit. Am I this welcoming in my own home to neighbors who stop by unannounced?
With Lwala’s community health care workers translating, we explained the Watsi program. We wanted to feature profiles of local women enrolled in our maternal health program who were receiving home outreach visits during their pregnancy, and who planned to deliver their babies at Lwala’s community hospital. These are the core program elements of Lwala Community Alliance incredible program that’s helped over 90% of local women deliver babies with a skilled birth attendent — a big change in an area were that’s typically on 30-35%.
Through conversation, women like Alice Atieno Opuyo shared personal stories. She’s 33 and having her 4th baby. Monthly visits from Lwala’s community health care workers have helped her stay strong and positive. Our outreach workers have taught her about good nutrition and encouraged her to prioritize her own health so she it fit to care for herself and her family. They’ve motivated her to take time for the sometimes long walk to and waits for pre-natal appointments. And with visual aids and sometimes even videos (courtesy of donated iPads) – they’ve taught her about the health warning signs that mean she should immediately come to the hospital. Alice has a birth plan for her baby, and talked through the list of items she’s preparing for the birth of her child, and about her approach to saving small bits of money over the course of her pregnancy.
Honestly, I was so touched by Alice and other women’s personal stories, that I felt too small to translate what they were telling me into the mental logic frames for program evaluation that I typically think in. I didn’t know how to rate “feels hopeful about the future” or “thinks dreams are possible”. I had no idea that was part of our maternal health program.
The professional message I have to share is that Lwala Community Alliance is successfully wrapping up the Watsi pilot program, with plans underway to expand it. My personal message is that the gracious women I visited help me see impact in a different way. This quote touched my heart with compassion, and helped me appreciate the un-measurable impact of the maternal health program in Lwala: “They cared about me”.
I won’t be setting aside my logic frames, but my passion for the work became much brighter. And I’m grateful for the gracious women who ignited my passion for the work of the Lwala Community Alliance team by kindly sharing their own stories with me. I feel very honored to help deliver more than babies — we’re delivering hope.
Thanks to our allies, the Lwala Community Alliance recently won a $10,000 grant (4,200,000 KES) towards empowering girls and women in Lwala.
Cultivate Wines had chosen Lwala as a finalist in its quarterly GIVE campaign, which ran for 6 weeks in September and October. A total of 30 causes were selected for the campaign, and winners were determined through online voting. Individuals had the opportunity to vote once a day throughout the campaign for the cause of their choice. The cause with the most votes received $50,000 and the 5 runners-up each received $10,000. Due to the faithful voting of so many of our friends, the Lwala Community Alliance finished in 4th place with 5,686 votes! The $10,000 we will receive from Cultivate will be directed towards our programs in girls’ education and in economic development with our women’s sewing cooperative. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the GIVE Campaign and for the dozens of people who pushed us into a winning position. Thank you!
Our new ambulance arrived safely and is now fully functional in Lwala! Thank you to all of you who supported us in raising funds for this vehicle. It replaces a 19 year-old vehicle that was no longer insurable due to its age and was in need of frequent repair. It’s wonderful to have a reliable form of transport in emergency situations!
Jena Lee Nardella – Executive Director of our partner Blood:Water Mission and wife to Lwala Community Alliance Executive Director, James Nardella – delivered the benediction on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, NC. Mrs. Nardella received the call last week after the President expressed interest in inviting a Christian who was doing “good and admirable work in the world.” At the age of 22, Jena Nardella co-founded Blood:Water Mission, an organization that seeks to empower communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. Blood:Water Mission provided seed money towards the construction of the Lwala Community Health Center in 2007 and currently funds clean water projects and trainings in water, sanitation, and hygiene at the expanded Lwala Community Hospital and at 13 local schools. In her compelling and courageous prayer, Mrs. Nardella reflected on the impact that she has witnessed in African communities when “Democrats and Republicans [to] put justice and mercy above partisanship.” We are grateful for Blood:Water Mission’s ongoing investment in the Lwala Community Alliance and for Mrs. Nardella’s beautiful words of unity, healing, and hope. To watch an online video of her prayer, click HERE.
AIDS 2012, the 19th International AIDS Conference, was held in Washington, DC from July 22-29. Leaders from the world of science, politics, diplomacy, philanthropy, and entertainment traveled from across the globe to attend this year’s conference. The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV, and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It is a chance to evaluate recent scientific and global developments and lessons learned, and collectively chart a course forward. The Lwala Community Alliance was privileged to participate in AIDS 2012, the first International AIDS Conference to be held in the US in 19 years.
This week marks the 5 year anniversary of the opening of the Lwala Community Hospital!
This week 5 years ago, we opened our doors to seeing patients in the village of Lwala in western Kenya. Fred and I were but medical students. From reading emergency medicine textbooks on the fly, to delivering our first breech delivery with telephone assistance from an OB in Tampa, Florida, to now having nearly 90 Kenyans employed by our nonprofit, the Lwala Community Alliance, we have come a long way. We’ve provided more than 80,000 patient visits! When our parents passed only 6 years ago, there was no local access to HIV care. We now have nearly 1,000 people enrolled in care and treatment! It’s been a team effort. Thank you for your support and thanks to the people on the ground in Lwala for helping us achieve this milestone.
-Dr. Milton Ochieng’
P.S. Want to really see the progress? Click below to watch a recent talk Fred and I gave.
OUR GOALS FOR 2012 INCLUDE…
●4,000 students with access to clean drinking water
●1,500 people on HIV care
●700 girls reached through our Girls’ Education Program
●500 new WASH trainees
●400 participants in our agricultural training
●350 babies safely delivered at the Lwala Community Hospital
●35 new Community Health Workers employed to reach mothers and children
●20 people earning income through our sewing and soap-making cooperatives
●10 new secondary school students receiving sponsorships
●1 new ambulance providing emergency transport to those who need it
Thank you for being part of the journey with us!
Due to the dry season in Lwala, people have turned to unsafe sources of water for drinking. In the first 2 weeks of February, over 40% of the children who came to the Lwala Community Hospital came with diarrhea. Most of these children are between the ages of 6 and 18 months, and one child died at the hospital due to the severity of her dehydration.
We need your help to maintain our emergency response both at the hospital and in the community.
The hospital staff are treating children with oral rehydration therapy (ORT) and teaching mothers an inexpensive way to create ORTs at home using salt, water, and sugar and are distributing free Waterguard and PUR tablets to ensure
families can treat their water.
Lwala Community Alliance also has mobilized a team of 14 community members trained in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to go door-to-door in the villages surrounding Lwala to educate community members on safe water and sanitation, teach them how make ORTs, and distribute Waterguard and PUR. Simultaneously, staff have been visiting local schools to provide health talks on how to prevent the spread of diarrhea both at home and at school.
To date, the WASH outreach workers have reached 2705 people in the community and an additional 5979 students through school-based visits.
In addition, 300 bottles of Waterguard and 12,000 sachets of PUR tablets (enough to equal 120,000 liters of clean water) have been distributed. Through consultation with the Kenyan government, public health officials, and other NGOs, the Lwala Community Alliance is working to reduce the number of children who must suffer from this preventable condition.
As this current outbreak was unanticipated, we have had to spend outside of our budget to effectively address this dire situation. Your extra support is greatly needed at this time.
To make a gift, click HERE.
Drs. Milton and Fred Ochieng’ will be featured as the keynote speakers at the TN Global Health Forum in Nashville on Thursday, Feb 23.
Milton and Fred Ochieng’ will be giving a multi-media presentation on building
holistic wellness in Lwala. Through story, statistics, and video, they will bring to life 3 direct challenges to wellness in Lwala, 3 interventions of the Lwala Community Alliance, and important lessons learned.
DATE: Thursday, February 23, 2012
TIME: 1:45pm – 2:45pm
LOCATION: Vanderbilt University Student Life Center
310 25th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37240 (map)
Also that afternoon…
“Building Multidimensional Partnerships: A Local Perspective on Global Collaboration,” a panel discussion led by Lwala Community Alliance Executive Director James Nardella. Come learn how the Lwala Community Alliance has worked collaboratively with other mid-south organizations to support its various programs in Kenya and hear these partners discuss the benefits of working together.
Barak Bruerd – Director of Africa Programs, Blood:Water Mission
Dean Bonnie Miller – Senior Associate Dean for Health Sciences Education, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Noah Derman- Deputy Director, Development in Gardening
Holli Anglin- Managing Director, Thistle Farms
Will Hill – Executive Director, Got Your Back Movement
To register for the event, please click HERE.
We hope to see you there!