Welcome to Wamuini. Beautiful isn't it? Green billowing trees, deep orange soil and the cozy aroma of a charcoal fire and black tea leaves beneath your nose. It's the type of place whose beauty is often forgotten because it stands in such stark contrast to the grim realities facing its people. The rest of the story →
A forgotten place, with unforgettable people. We found a lack of basic necessities like clean water and reliable shelter. Jobs were hard to come by and access to quality healthcare was practically nonexistent. But Wamuini had resilience. And they never asked for a handout — they asked for a solution. →
A partnership is formed. We spent a large part of 2009-2010 speaking with the community and compiling a thorough assessment of what Wamuini wanted and needed in order for it to become a perpetually healthy place to live. We heard dozens of stories of personal hardship, but were overwhelmed by the spirit of optimism and determination. We saw countless people, who were barely earning enough to eat, donating in order to improve Wamuini. The work begins →
It starts with a Community Center. On two acres of donated land in the middle of Wamuini and open since 2010, the center is the headquarters, the hub, the grand central station of all our programs. In the first year alone the center has launched a Medical Dispensary, a Medical Lab, health ed. workshops, vocational courses for women, youth programs, and an education academy. Inside the center →
For the people, by the people. ASH centers are always run by a trained staff of local community members. The way we see it, long-term change happens when its from within, and it's crucial to invest in dedicated people who won't have to rely on Western funding forever. The programs, starting with the dispensary →
Medical care, close to home. The dispensary was a direct response to the overwhelming demand for better healthcare services. Before the dispensary, the nearest facility was over a two-hour walk away, and usually at the cost of school or a days wages. Now available are services like primary care, labor/delivery and OBGYN, immunizations and Maternal Child Health. Up next, empowering women →
Providing women an opportunity for themselves and their families. One of the primary barriers to sustained health is unemployment. With our Vocational Training Program, young women are taught marketable skills, such as sewing and tailoring, in order to earn a living and provide for their family. Continued →
Not just making clothes. Also taught in the program: basic business principles and money management. Here, Emily and Lucy, two community women who joined the first year of our program, take notes during a session. Educating the kids →
A strong education equals a chance for a healthier life. Our objective: to keep kids in school longer. From our Catch-Up Program that tutors drop-outs to their age's grade level and encourages them to re-enroll, our After-school Tutoring Service that helps kids prep for their yearly exams, to our Early Child Development Courses that provide lessons at an earlier age. Next: not just limited to the center →
This is Augustine. Here, our center's lab technologist talks to almost 400 students of Kiungani Academy on protecting against tapeworms. Our staff regularly goes out to speak with various villages within the community on the importance of health awareness and good living practices. Back to the beginning →
Our current partner site is Wamuini, Kenya.
Located about 10 kilometers outside the city of Kitale, this community of four villages is home to about 10,000 people. Many also lack basic necessities like clean water, quality healthcare, steady jobs, or reliable shelter.
Putting the five initiatives to work.
How ASH's Five Initiatives are coming to life in Wamuini.
Wamuini was without an accessible health facility.
The nearest one was over two hours away on foot, on a unpaved road where it wasn't uncommon to be flooded or muddy. Making the trip would often mean sacrificing the chance for a day's wages or time at school, as well taking from any savings reserved for food, water, or school.
Build a health center with medical dispensary, laboratory, and trained staff.
The dispensary was a direct response to the overwhelming demand for better healthcare services based on a recent health census in the region. Some services provided now are primary care, labor/delivery and OBGYN, immunizations and Maternal Child Health, and health education. The addition of a Medical Laboratory in 2011 has only reinforced the ability to accurately diagnose and treat patients coming in from the community.
Organize monthly community immunization days, health education workshops, and other in-the-field programs.
In order to raise awareness of health and the community center, ASH Wamuini runs multiple programs and village meetings run with the help of community elders. Providing general information about how to stay healthy and why it's important can prevent disease.
People couldn't cover basic living and health costs due to the lack of steady jobs.
In a poor, rural region like Wamuini there was a lack of economic opportunity for unskilled or uneducated workers to improve their quality of life. Women and mothers often faced the most difficult financial challenges.
Provide a Vocational Training Programs for young women in need.
Our center offers a six month course in sewing and tailoring and basic income management paired with entrepreneurial training for young women and mothers, as well as follow-up counseling after completing the course.
Develop Village Banking to give local entrepreneurs small loans to fund new ventures.
There are entrepreneurial opportunities in Wamuini and the surrounding region, but not enough capital. ASH has partnered with Torch Africa, a microfinance organization based in Kenya, to provide potential entrepreneurs small loans to fund new ventures, with a high rate of success. Also provided are small business management and best practices training.
Construct a sustainable farming greenhouse for local residents.
Fresh vegetables will be sold at the local markets, providing an additional source of revenue for the community center. The greenhouse would also produce a channel for nutrition and agricultural education. We're currently in the process of researching the best means to implement a program that would serves the community this way.
Many children were unable to go to school to receive an education.
We met families who simply couldn't afford to send their children to school for more than a few years. Others that missed a semester or two were unable to recover in time to pass the national exam to move up to the next grade.
Provide an Early Child Development Program for young children in order to give them a higher chance at staying in school.
The center runs these programs for children in the range of preschool through first grade at an affordable rate so when entering primary school they're more prepared and likely to complete their education.
Provide After-school Tutoring Service to aid students in prepping for their yearly exams.
For students that are struggling with their academics for any number of reasons, such as having to miss school days because of weather, health, or family issues, the tutoring service is a means to keep them on track to pass their exams and graduate to the next grade. We're currently in the process of researching the best means to implement a program that would serves these children.
Provide a Catch-up Program for drop-outs to get them back in school.
It's very common for students to drop out of school because they couldn't afford it, and fall too behind to return. Some of these kids turn to drugs and alcohol. This program works with these kids to get them back to their grade level and encourages them to return to school and graduate in hopes for a more stable future. We're currently in the process of researching the best means to implement a program that would serves these children.
Limited resources for homes led to structures prone to spreading disease and illness.
Such conditions perpetuate the spread of malaria and upper respiratory tract infections throughout the community, as well as being vulnerable to water seepage and poor ventilation. It wasn't uncommon for community members to be treated for a disease and then contract the same disease due to their living situation.
Improve the design and construction of homes using sustainable resources.
ASH has partnered with Architects for Humanity-Boston in order to design an improved housing model for Wamuini based on local, sustainable resources, and a training program on how to build it.
Wamuini has no public accessible source of clean water.
Unsafe drinking water is a major cause of disease within Wamuini, especially types that are otherwise easily preventable. Obtaining clean water for many families is costly both in terms of money and time.
Provide the community with a permanent source of safe, drinkable water.
We're currently researching various sustainable clean water solutions that best fit the needs and restrictions of Wamuini. Our goal is to have an accessible clean water system that can be maintained and funded by the community for generations to come.
For the people, run by the people.
Our ASH Wamuini staff make all the work on site possible.
Zachary NyatikaManaging Director
In charge of all operations and staff, Zach works closely with community leaders as well as serving as our liaison for us in America.
Sister Ejira MalabaNurse
As the center's full-time nurse, Sister Ejira determines initial diagnosis and administers medical treatment to almost all our patients.
Sister Jane NamasakaNurse
Serving as Sister Ejira's right-hand woman, Sister Jane assists in registration, administration of medication, and educating patients.
Sister Loise LaikaStandby Nurse
Sister Loise is our backup nurse, working at the dispensary when Sister Ejira is away from the center.
Augustine WafulaLab Technologist
Carrying out necessary laboratory tests and examinations, Augustine works to ensure accuracy in patient diagnosis.
Single-handedly teaching the Early Child Development class, Levin prepares her students in hopes to attend primary school.
Peter OmbatiVocational Instructor
Successfully running his own sewing/tailoring shop, Peter came to ASH to teach our students in need for more stable futures.
"Mama" Sarah TsimonjelaSupervisor
On top of donating what is now the ASH Wamuini facilities and land, Mama Sarah supervises and lends her expertise to the vocational course.
Ken WafulaDay Guard/Groundskeeper
Ken has been with the center since day one and provides security and any necessary maintenance of the facilities.