By Linda KHABEKO
Islamic Relief Kenya Nutrition Program supports the Ministry of health in Wajir West, Wajir North and Eldas sub-counties in the implementation of High impact Nutrition Intervention programme (HINI).This programme incorporates 11 components from the Scaling Up Nutrition movement (SUN) these include:Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF)promotion, complementary feeding for infants after the age of six months, improved hygiene practices, vitamin A supplementation, therapeutic zinc supplementation for diarrhea management, de-worming for children, iron folate supplementation for pregnant women, salt iodization, iron-fortification of staple foods, prevention of moderate under nutrition and treatment of Acute malnutrition.
These components of HINI are transformed into services offered to the community through the rural health facilities, outreach services as well as County and Sub-county hospitals. The programme’s success is measured through indicators such as cure rate, death rate, defaulter rate, coverage. Health education is one of the services conducted at all the sites where HINI activities are offered. This is done by the Nurses, Community Health workers, Mother support group facilitators as well as IRK Nutrition Officers and Nutrition Promoters. Various health and nutrition topics are covered through the health education sessions including: Exclusive breast feeding, complementary feeding, hygiene and sanitation, importance of ante-natal and post-natal clinics, care of a sick child, cooking demonstrations, nutrition in pregnancy,nutrition in HIV etc.
Markaba Gelle is a mother of one, Yusuf Bishar 8 months. She is married to Abdiaziz Bishar a casual labourer. The three live in Gurar village in Wajir North sub-county. Markaba and her husband were not privileged to attend school; they rely on Yusuf’s earnings from his casual engagements for their daily needs. It is Monday morning at around 9:00am and I meet Markaba at Gurar health centre amongst the women waiting to be served.Siyaad Mohamed the community health worker calls out loud in Somali “Waa wakhtigh taclinta caafimmadka isu imaadho” meaning the mothers should converge for a health education season. With excitement, Markaba and her friends move closer to the CHW ready to listen with a lot of expectation as I could read from their faces.
The CHW goes on and educates the mothers on complementary feeding specifically on feeding children with variety of foods to ensure their diet is balanced with all the nutrients their growing bodies require. He goes on and invites me for a cooking demonstration exercise. We engage in a participatory cooking demonstration exercise and the mothers enjoy the learning experience. Today we cook “Kunde” an indigenous vegetable grown at the mother support group kitchen garden.
After the session I notice Markaba leaving carrying her son on her back, I quickly call her and ask why she is leaving without seeing the Nurse. She tells me she and her son are all well and Yusuf is not due for vaccination or weighing, all she come for was to listen to the health education session because she has learnt a lot. Markaba says she did not have experience on how to raise a child since she grew up with her grandmother as the only child in the homestead and Yusuf is her first child.
“When I was two months pregnant my husband’s friend Siyaad Mohamed who is the CHW at Gurar health centre visited us one morning and informed us on the importance of visiting the hospital every month during and even after pregnancy. The following morning I woke up early and came to the hospital. The Nurse talked to me about very many important issues like,hygiene,eating a balance diet, taking iron tablets, visiting the hospital not only when am sick but every month for weighing, vaccination and checking on the baby. I was happy to know someone was available to ensure both me and my baby are ok”
Markaba was able to exclusively breastfeed her son for six months, with support from the hospital she was able to handle breast complications and practise breast feeding on demand. Currently she is practising responsive complementary feeding on Yusuf, she is also able to balance the diet at her home, to ensure her family is healthy and Yusuf is able to get all the nutrients he requires. She goes on to explain that every other time she came to the hospital, especially at around 9:00am or 2:00pm; she noticed that the CHW or the Nurse would call everyone to listen to education on health and nutrition.
“This information has changed my life and that of my family a lot” she says.
By Caroline SANG
A vast majority of the inhabitants at the Dadaab Refugee camp are children; less than half of them attend primary school. Small percentages reach secondary school. An entire generation has grown up in the camp, where there is essentially no work and nothing to do.
Despite education being a fundamental human right and recognized as providing the much-needed cognitive development; it is still the most underfunded sector in the humanitarian aid sector. Islamic Relief’s Education programme seeks to integrate the traditional and modern forms of education in a bid to enhance access to formal education for children in Dadaab refugee camp.
One of the pupils who has benefitted from the project is Muraya Noor a 14 year old girl. She says that, “We don’t have a steady flow of income as both my parents are un-employed. We usually depend on relief food and sometimes we stay without food. I am one of the most privileged girls in my area because I have a chance to attend both formal and religious classes. My parents champion for religious/duksi education. I am happy because I am not missing on the formal education too as all is found in one place as given by Islamic Relief Kenya.”
Muraya Noor is ever so grateful for the chance to improve her future life. She adds,
“I would like to say a big thank you to the donor and IRK for bringing this one shop for us; integrated education. I no longer have difficulties with my parents .I now freely attend duksi school first then thereafter to the formal education school. I wish that IRK will continue paying our teachers so that they don’t stop teaching us.”
Preference for religious education among Muslim communities and more specifically in Dadaab Refugee camp has made quite a number of school going children miss the opportunity of getting formal education. Children take quite a number of their early years in the religious classes learning and memorizing the Quran as it is the most preferred by most parents.
Working in Dadaab Refugee camp with a vast number of refugees predominated by those of Somali origin and mostly Muslims, Islamic Relief Kenya implemented a project funded by Islamic Relief Netherlands whose objective was to enhance access to formal education for children in Dadaab refugee camp. A chat with one of the project beneficiary (pupil) Harun Hussein 14 years old points out that;
“I enjoy living because of the duksi schools which are again free. We don’t pay money since Islamic relief is paying for the teachers.”
Despite the intervention made by IRK in the refugee in enhancing formal education, Harun had to say:
“We need more duksi, and more classrooms in our schools, we also need good shelter. Islamic Relief has built for us four classrooms for Duksi School and employed teachers in the duksi. We say thank you and may Allah bless you all.”
Harun finished by saying, “Life before IR intervention was difficult. We used to read under a tree and pay the teachers as well. Now I have a dream and my dream is to one day be someone useful in the society when I grow up I would to be a teacher and teach the young children.”
Technology, it is said, has turned the world into a global village. For Pupils in Daadab, learning has not been the same since their schools became part of a pilot project for the Vodafone Instant Network for School Project. An Instant Network School is a solar powered center with tablets where children and teachers access digital educational content and the internet with Safaricom’s mobile network. The centers are managed by trained teachers. Thanks to this initiative, the young children are now able to harness the power of technology through the use of tablets in their learning curricula.
Today, the camps that were connected to each other by narrow, dusty footpaths are now connected to the outside world through the internet.
Feeding Curious Minds
Islamic Relief’s Education Programme has enabled the blending in of the project in the schools in IFO I and IFO II camps where the primary schools are run by Islamic Relief. Maureen who is a teacher at Mwangaza Primary School located in IFO II camp says that, “Since we started the program, we have seen a huge improvement of learning at the school since the children are keen to learn. The children are devoting almost all their time to reading. Even during the short and lunch breaks, the children will sit under the shade and read This is a welcome technology as the children have really improved in not only their reading skills, but also in their sentence construction skills. It is a revolution.”