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Kenyan girls pedal towards a better future

Kenyan girls take a step ahead towards their future

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Kakamega and Kisumu, Kenya, September 2, 2016: In Western Kenya, poverty has put girls at risk of becoming pregnant and dropping out of school. But a program in the region seeks to empower the girls by giving them transportation, in the form of bicycles. For VOA, Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kakamega and Kisumu, Kenya.

Loise Luseno, student, Kenya (VOA)
Loise Luseno, student, Kenya (VOA)

Loise Luseno, a local resident of Kenya talks of how she herself had to drop out of school last year because of lack of conveyance facilities. Their society anyway isn’t very supportive of girl education and this problem of commutation hampers their fututre furthermore. Her parents are just subistence farmers who earn $30 per month, barely enough for food, school fees and transportation.

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She also speaks of how teenage girls drop out of school because of their pregnancy as a common phenomena and how the motorbike riders in her area treat these girls when they’re seen walking to school. “They normally stop us on the road, when we’re on legs. They told us they would carry us. When they carry us, they start disturbing us to drop out of school which is not good.”

Manufacturing of the bicycles, at World Bicycle Relief (VOA)
Manufacturing of the bicycles, at World Bicycle Relief (VOA)

Ainea Ambulwa her school teacher, also a member of a part of the Bicycle Supervisor Committee and ensures that the girls maintain the bikes’ good condition. He states that the recurring poverty is a big challenge. When these girls or their family members use these bikes to carry heavy loads of items, they break and they can’t afford to service them.

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The World bicycle Relief, based in Chicago, USA, manufactures bicycles and distributes them to another charity called World Vision. In 2015, the group set up a production plant in Kenya. The cost of production of a single buffalo bicycle costs around $180, but with the help of donors, they have distributed more than 7000 bicycles countrywide, most of their recipients being girls. The owner, Peter Wechuli says, these bikes have certainly improved the girls’ lives but  the 100 kilometres distance of Kisumu from the plant remains a problem with limited resources but they aim to make the lives of these girls better for a brighter future.

This bicycle usage will not help the girls to complete their education, but also transport them into a better future as a better human being (VOA)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLi9m0H-yVE

 

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  • Arya Sharan

    This is a great move and will help in empowering girls and will get them educated.

  • Manthra koliyer

    Women empowerment at its best!

Next Story

Kenya’s First Breast Milk Bank to Combat Newborn Mortality

There are misconceptions and concerns about hygiene and the spread of disease to newborns in the use of donated milk. Murage noted that all donors' health would checked at the hospital and that the milk would be pasteurized.

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Kenya, newborn Mortality
A lab technician at the Mothers' Milk Bank of New England in Newtonville, Mass., pours donated breast milk into another flask to prepare for pasteurization. Kenya will soon be getting Africa's second bank for donated breast milk. VOA

Joshua Okumu’s wife, Mary Mwanja, died during childbirth 18 years ago at Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi. But their daughter survived.

When he picked up his newborn baby at the nursery, grief-stricken and shocked, Okumu was not entirely sure how to feed her.

Kenya, newborn Mortality
Plans are underway to bring a human milk bank to Nairobi as a joint effort between the Kenya Ministry of Health and PATH. The bank will be housed in Pumwani Maternity Hospital. VOA

“So when I reached home, I started feeding her with a packet of milk called Tuzo,” he said. “By that time, Tuzo was not diluted like nowadays. So, that is what I was using to feed the small baby when I took her from the hospital. If the mum was there it would have been healthier to be fed by her mum.”

For Kenyan widowers like Okumu, there will soon be another option: human donor milk.

Pumwani is getting Kenya’s first breast milk bank, which will be only the second of its kind on the continent. The other one is in South Africa.

The bank is a joint initiative by Kenya’s Ministry of Health and PATH, a U.S.-based nonprofit health organization. It will open in September for donations and offer free breast milk by prescription for babies who cannot get it from their mothers.

Newborn Mortality in kenya
Dr. Elizabeth Kimani Murage, head of maternal and child well-being at the African Population and Health Research Center. VOA

‘Next best option’

Dr. Elizabeth Kimani Murage, head of maternal and child well-being at the African Population and Health Research Center, is behind the project.

“The World Health Organization recommends that if the mother’s own breast milk is not available for the baby for any reason, the best next option would be the donor milk,” she said. “So the recommendation is to make donor milk available to such vulnerable babies.”

The milk bank aims to help orphaned and malnourished babies get the nutrients essential to healthy development.

Murage said mother’s milk has an enormous impact on child survival, especially during the first month of life.

Kenya, newborn Mortality
The Pumwani Maternity Hospital’s policy on breastfeeding is displayed on this bronze plate. VOA

“Despite improvements in infant mortality, neonatal mortality is reducing at a very slow rate, so those are the children we want to target,” she said. “According to the Every Newborn Action Plan [from the World Health Organization and UNICEF], we should actually reduce neonatal mortality to 12 deaths per 1,000 live births. But, you see, we are very far [from that goal]. We are at 22.”

There are misconceptions and concerns about hygiene and the spread of disease to newborns in the use of donated milk. Murage noted that all donors’ health would checked at the hospital and that the milk would be pasteurized to ensure that only safe and healthful breast milk is given to babies in need. (VOA)