We have always taken a holistic, person-centred approach to development at Team Kenya. Over the last ten years we have seen that problems can rarely be tackled in isolation – a girls’ school fees may be paid, but she may fall ill, or be pulled out of school to look after her siblings. Taking this approach sometimes makes explaining what we do complicated – essentially, we want to keep girls in school, and we do this by supporting them in whatever way they need to be supported. For some girls this means providing extra care packages such as personal care items and sanitary towels, for some it means working with their mothers to support them to generate income to sustain the family and for others it means stepping in when health takes a turn for the worse. Lucy’s story is just one example of hundreds of cases we see each year.
Last year, Lucy, one of the girls in our Girls’ Support Group was experiencing serious health problems and was often absent from school. At the time, her mother could not afford any kind of medical treatment for her. After her condition was reported to a social worker at our partner organisation Ndhiwa Community Empowerment and Development Project (NCEDP) in June 2017, Lucy was supported by the organisation and was taken to hospital, where they carried out some tests. A week later, Lucy was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB).
During the first week of her medication, Lucy had severe physical reactions and even started vomiting blood. At this point, Lucy’s mother rushed her to the hospital, where she was advised to take her for a further medical check-up in the nearest town. Fortunately, Lucy did not have any more serious issues after that point, although there were other challenges ahead. Because Lucy’s medication was very strong, the Doctor said to ensure that she had a well-balanced diet. This meant that NCEDP would need to buy her milk and other energy-giving drinks to make sure she continued to improve. Lucy’s mother was also unable to pay for transport for her to go to her weekly check-ups and obtain her medication renewals.
Team Kenya worked with NCEDP to provide financial support so that Lucy’s transport and nutrition were taken of and she could continue to recover from the TB. By August, Lucy’s Doctor confirmed that her health was no longer in danger and changed her medication. Lucy managed to take her second term school exams and achieved an average score – even though she had not been attending school regularly. By September, Lucy had improved and was still coming in regularly to take her medication and for check-ups to monitor her progress.
Lucy’s condition has since improved tremendously. She is now playing football and going to school again. Lucy’s mother is now a member of one of our table banking groups – small groups of women who are trained in basic banking skills and are given support to set up savings accounts for their income. The group that Lucy’s mother is in has recently been given a loan from the Kenyan Government’s Women’s Enterprise Fund and is doing very well.
Girls in Ndhiwa face many barriers to their education; health, poverty, early marriage and pregnancy and violence in schools to name just a few. Lucy’s story is just one example of how supporting a girl and her family in small ways, can mean the difference between a life of illness and poverty and an educated, happy and healthy future.
If you’d like to help us support more families like Lucy’s, setting up a monthly donation is one of the best ways you can help.