Saturday, April 5, 2014

ABCs of Sex Education: Kufanya Uamuzi Bora

Phylis and Sarah co-teaching male reproductive anatomy
Well, since the last time I checked in about my HIV prevention and sex education work I’ve been back to Kenya twice. I have hired a project manager, and we’ve launched a measurement and evaluation process. Thanks in large part to donations from many of my friends and family, I was able to employ fourteen previously volunteer community educators in 2013 and require that they begin to fill out reports to help us measure their effectiveness and improve outcomes. In addition to the paid educators, twenty-nine other newly trained educators are now volunteering their services.

Sarah, one of our community educators,
and some of the high school kids
watching Phylis teach.
My good friend Phylis Nasubo Magina took over as Project Manager of the ABCs of Sex Education in January 2014, after resigning her position as Deputy Director of a primary school in Nairobi. Phylis, Jessy (my oldest daughter) and I just spent seven weeks together meeting with all of the previously trained educators, and honing the report and evaluation forms. We are also now using several project management and other software programs.

Phylis and I meeting with a group in
Embaringo, Aberdares, at 10,000 feet.
As you may know, our ABC (Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms) curriculum is a fact-based approach that teaches knowledge and skills for risk reduction in the areas of HIV/AIDS and other STDs, and early pregnancy. 

The Funyula Team with Phylis

Our project aims to be a measurement-based program that proves its efficacy and constantly aspires to improve outcomes. We are now establishing and gathering metrics on everything from the number of audience members we’ve reached to the reduction in high school dropouts due to pregnancy after we’ve taught at schools. Ultimately we hope to link our hands-on, knowledge-and-skills-based education to reductions in HIV and other STDs and early pregnancy, and to increases in (serial) monogamy and condom use.

Phylis interviewing Lydia from our
Luanda Team, with Jessy helping with
the filming.
And we have a new name! ABCs of Sex Education: Kufanya Uamuzi Bora (Making Wise Decisions)

My next post will unveil our new website, let you know the results of some of the data we are entering and analyzing, and report on our sanitary pad project aimed at keeping girls in school.

Monday, January 20, 2014

first impressions of Rwanda

Whoa. I couldn't really tell you what I was expecting, but Rwanda exceeds all expectations. Here on a  ten day development course, we've had a chance to meet both high level Rwandans (the Speaker and three other Members of Parliament, the head of a unity and reconciliation commission, the head of a large hospital serving a remote rural area) and local people served by Partners in Health, the group for which we are doing a consulting project on social marketing.
Phylis and I sitting in the Rwandan Parliament

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Eighteen year old youth

I was asked to sit down with an 18 year old the other day to encourage him to go back to school. It turned out that the Ember field officer in charge of his case had already set into motion a possible solution to the urgent problem, though not to the underlying ones.

It turns out that he dropped out of school in April - 6th grade! He was discouraged and embarassed because he was regularly caned for poor performance, and had requested that Ember help him get into another school. He'd like to finish 8th grade, which is a marker here, so that he can get into a polytechnic and study machine mechanics. He said he doesn't know what happened, he used to be a pretty good student and now he always does badly even when he tries to study. He lives with an elderly grandfather who doesn't work, so the kid does the home chores, cooking, etc., as well as trying to go to school, where they beat him. My friend Robert Barasa, who runs Ember, is looking for a way to have more regular counseling for the kids and grandparents, and mentions his concerns about PTSD, among other issues.

Imagine that he's not trying to drop out, despite being so much older than the other kids, and struggling financially, physically, and psychologically- he just wants a school where the teachers don't beat and embarass him so he can get his 8th grade diploma.

His field officer is meeting today with the head teacher of a primary with a good reputation for caring teachers.  Ember makes such a difference!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

June 26, Visiting the Luanda Team

Well, I thought I had the glitch figured out and made it quite a bit of the way through labeling photos until it froze again. Big thanks to Becky for the certificates, by the way! The group photo should be labeled "Sarah, Dorcas, Joyce, Lydiah, Eddah, me, Priscillah, Matt, front row Magdaline, Seith and some neighbor kids". After the meeting we drove back through an extremely rocky area, where one local guy in particular (who is part of a discordant couple and supposedly his viral load is now zero but is almost certainly just undetectible, which is great, of course) paints a lot of HIV awareness slogans on the rocks. End of the day helped Felix with his reading, and Matt made guacamole. A good, full day! Next morning we said goodbye to Joyce and Magdaline.
We pass through Chavakali on our way to Luanda - they have a pay toilet. Iko toilet means toilet here.

Matt took some photos through the window at Priscillah's house , where we always meet. Basically all Kenyan homes have bars on the windows. Reminds me of what Elizabeth Warren says about how wealthy people (and really all of us) benefit from the taxes we pay for security, among so many other things.

 Back in the kitchen, preparing our snack and lunch!
 Chicken house/cage.

 "Snack"! Eggs, bread, water and tea.

 The meeting - we talked about challenges and accomplishments.
 Then I gave out belated certificates, from their training in 2010. Certificates are really important, for stature and credibility.

 From left, Pricillah's daughter Sarah, a currently unemployed Early Childhood Education teacher, DorcasJoyce, Lydiah, Eddah, me,  Dorcas,

Visiting Five Ember Locations

Uuurggggh! Why won't it let me scroll down to write about each photo?? Anyway, at the first location we had a big group, and saw a play with grandparents and grandchildren. The grandmother actress in the blue blouse plays an orphan who tricks her grandmother, meets with her boyfriend, and ends up pregnant and HIV positive. Moral of story: don't lie to your grandmother!?

As the day progressed, we saw another play which grandmothers and grandfathers, orphans whom they're raising, and Judy and Sarah of the Wholistic Team had written and then performed and together. It even involved a witch doctor (the girl in the feathered headdress, who was a WONDERFUL actor), a bar, dancing. . . and of course the granddaughter who made bad decisions and went to a bar with bad boys from the area ended up - you guessed it - pregnant and HIV positive.

We saw four short dramas, heard several plays including one written about me by the pastor in the area about how I'm a pillar of the community and teach about family planning, entitled "Kathy"!, and enjoyed lots of singing and dancing from both grandkids and grandparents.

We also watched part of a "football match" (Kenyans use British English), as I had supplied soccer balls last year so they could form an Ember team. Capper of the day: Matt was presented with a chicken, which he subsequently named "Legs", by the beautiful daughter of Sarah, one of the Wholistic Team members. Sarah made sure that Matt met Leah a couple of times, and told him not to forget her. Next thing you know the family will be asking how many cows Matt is supplying for their dowry!!