HIV/AIDS


KELC Parishes Celebrate World AIDS Day

By Candise Heinlein

 

Global celebrations of World AIDS Day were held on 1 December 2010; however, KELC parish celebrations began the last week of November.  On 26 November, Mombasa Parish in conjunction with the KELC Youth Department and the KELC Malaria and HIV/AID Department hosted an all-night Dance for Christ ecumenical event in celebration of World AIDS Day. Dancers from congregations of the Mombasa Parish, congregation youth choirs, and the praise and worship team from the Redeemed Church shared their talent along with the talents of the following performing artists: Asaph Band, Ebenezer Group, and Salome Mwabindo.

Preachers and lay leaders from various denominations joined in the Dance for Christ celebration: Pastor Sean Mercentite (Pentecostal Church), Pastor Christopher Nawate (Redeemed Church), Rev. Shikuku (former KELC pastor), and Bakari (former Muslim now a lay leader in the Mombasa Parish). Asiya Nabongo gave a presentation on HIV/AIDS. The event was very successful and drew a large crowd of youth.

Richard Odhiambo and Mercy Onyango perform a drama based on the true life story of living with HIV.

In Nairobi, celebrations took on smaller proportions, but were just as effective. The Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation celebrated on 28 November with a drama, words from health clinic staff, and a Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) clinic. The drama was written by Richard Odhiambo and was based on his true-life story of living as a person infected by HIV. Mr. Odhiambo has a daughter who is HIV positive and lost his wife to AIDS-related illness. In introducing his play, he advised, “Parents should ask their children where they got money to buy things for them.” The play depicts a girl who is led into unprotected sex by the promise of money and uses the money to buy presents for her parents to keep them from asking questions. Odhiambo’s additional advice was for newlyweds to respect each other with faithfulness, spouses to practice abstinence when they have to leave their families for a job, youth to abstain, and parents to talk with their children.  Finally, he said, “Those getting married—get VCT. Don’t wait.” Mary Kimatu of Kenyatta National Hospital VCT clinic addressed the congregation. Following the service, Ms. Kimatu, Patricia Chepkemoi, and Veronica Thvo offered VCT to all willing congregants.

On World AIDS Day, the Jerusalem Congregation of the Nairobi Parish held one large service with a guest speaker from the Teacher’s Service Commission (TSC), Mrs. Sitawa, who also teaches at a school in Muthaiga. Following the service, TSC sponsored VCT for all willing congregants. Twenty-eight congregants were tested.

 

KLACC Gearing Up for Ministry

By Candise Heinlein

 

Joseph Onyango Muyoyo of Dagoretti shares his report with the KLACC.

Malindi was the scene of the second meeting of the Kenya Lutheran AIDS Coordinating Committee (KLACC) this year. Parish and mission AIDS committee chairpersons met with the KELC Malaria and HIV/AIDS Coordinator Darius Nyamai on 23 and 24 September 2010 to discuss their progress since the previous meeting in March and to develop ways forward in the mission of the committee.

 

Several groups reported hosting events on World Malaria Day (25 April 2010) and KELC AIDS Day (6 June) in which they incorporated HIV/AIDS awareness activities. Chairpersons reported receiving bicycles from Lutheran World Relief to aid them in their work. However, several parishes stated that the distances between congregations were too great for bicycles, and in other parishes the need for accommodations and food was needed after a day’s ride by bicycle. Other challenges mentioned were the difficulty of gathering Maasai youth and language for coordinating makes communication difficult.

 

Two congregations had made considerable progress. In one congregation, there is an active outreach program with income-generating activities, visitations to sick members, empowerment through self-employment, awareness and sensitization, flower and vegetable planting and selling, and distribution of questionnaires throughout the community to gather information about persons living with HIV/AIDS. Pastor involvement was a key factor in the success of this congregation’s program.  In the other congregation, the chairperson and his support group members were able to reach 689 people with messages of HIV/AIDS awareness at a gathering sponsored by the NGO Hope. The chairperson revealed that he was HIV positive and spoke about living with HIV infection. Then, the group members presented a drama titled “The Undecided” (those people who do not want to know their status) aimed at encouraging people to get tested for HIV infection.

 

As lack of funding was still the major obstacle in accomplishing KLACC’s mission, several ways forward to overcoming this obstacle were discussed. Networking with local NGOs and ministries was the primary answer that was suggested. Congregations must form groups, register them with the government, and report to the National AIDS Coordinating Council so that they will be eligible for government funding. Psychosocial group formation is important for providing hope through home-based care, counseling, and visitations. Another suggestion was instituting a special collection for the KLACC in each congregation. Sharing food and accommodation among congregation members was also suggested.  The KLACC will follow other KELC committees and departments and divide according to districts to ease modes of communication and travel for meetings. The major conclusion was that the KLACC has to take charge of finding ways to perform its ministry without funding from the Head Office.  The members must look to Jesus Christ as the God of possibilities in overcoming obstacles.

 

Determining Healthcare Delivery in KELC Areas

By Candise Heinlein

 

Focused group discussion in progress. Focus group selected from patients at Mutyambua Dispensary in Ukambani.

 

As part of the joint ELCK and KELC/Lutheran World Relief project titled “Improving Lutheran Response to HIV/AIDS and Malaria in Kenya,” KELC engaged Dr. Ayub Manya of Kenya’s Division of Malaria Control (DOMC) as a consultant to help KELC assess the healthcare systems available to its congregants in the seven areas of the project. According to Dr. Manya, “The main objective of the assessment was to determine the status of service delivery in the operational area of the church in terms of the number of health facilities, their geographical and economic accessibility, staffing patterns and availability of drugs.” The results of the study will be used “to improve the health care among the KELC congregations through church led awareness campaigns.”

From 14 to 17 June, Malaria and HIV/AIDS coordinator Darius Nyamai and Dr. Manya accompanied by Christine Mbuli of DOMC traveled to Ukambani, Kambu, Lungalunga, Mombasa, Malindi, Tana River, and Hola Wenje. Dr. Manya had prepared questionnaires for distribution to focus groups at each parish and in each local healthcare facility and interviewed key informants (officers in charge) in the health care facilities. The focus groups were composed of 6–10 women who had received treatment in the neighboring health care facilities. By using information gathered through the questionnaires, focus group discussions, and informants, Dr. Manya identified the gaps in healthcare provided to KELC congregations by the seven health care facilities in the Eastern and Coast provinces of Kenya and will devise an advocacy plan for the church.

This mapping exercise was an integral step in the successful accomplishment of the project goal: Improve access to and utilization of malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention and control measures among ELCK and KELC congregations, especially among children, pregnant women, and people living with HIV and AIDS.

Jerusalem Youth Hold HIV and AIDS Seminar

By Candise Heinlein

 

Jane Nkirote tests a participant for HIV at the VCT clinic offered during the seminar.

 

The youth of Jerusalem Parish conducted the second part of their seminar on HIV and AIDS and malaria on 15 May 2010.  This second part concentrated solely on HIV and AIDS and included voluntary counseling and testing (VCT). Seminar facilitators were: Edith Wamaitha, Uhuru Estate Community Health Worker; Jane Nkirote, VCT Counselor and Supervisor at Jamaa Mission Hospital, Uhuru Estate; and Tom Ongoro, VCT Counselor, Ministry of Health. The emphasis of the seminar was training on the prevention of HIV and AIDS and the importance of VCT, taking drugs, and treatment literacy.

The facilitators were asked to give their advice to the youth. Wamaitha advised, “Even if someone tests positive, they still have a chance to live; therefore, they should not fear to be tested.” “Awareness of HIV/AIDS, to realize causes and transmissions and preventive measures: Youth are leaders of tomorrow and need to have these things in mind,” commented Nkirote. Ongoro saw the big issue as behavior change. “We want people to change their behaviors. If you want to have sex, have sex responsibly,” he exhorted.

The lectures covered myths about HIV and AIDS, the origin of HIV, and prevention and treatment. Ongoro demonstrated the proper use of female and male condoms. Following the lectures, VCT was offered to all the participants. Jerusalem Youth Chairperson Philip Adika stated, “It was a nice seminar where every participant had idea about the subject and they were active and understanding.”

KELC Celebrates World Malaria Day

By Candise Heinlein

 

Christine Mbuli (DOMC) joins hands in partnership with Candise Heinlein (KELC), Ferestus (local villager), and Darius Nyamai (KELC) to fight malaria.

 

The national celebration of World Malaria Day (WMD) was held on 25 April 2010 in Lugari, Western Kenya. The Malaria and HIV/AIDS coordinator Darius Nyamai, Youth Coordinator Jonathan Kapanga, and ELCA volunteer missionary Candise Heinlein represented KELC at the celebration. Heinlein had been the KELC representative on the National Planning Committee for the event. The vision of Kenya’s Division of Malaria Control (DOMC) is a malaria-free Kenya by 2030. The WMD theme was Counting Malaria Out, and the Kenya slogan was Malaria-Free Kenya: Possible Through Partnerships.  Various traditional choirs and performers highlighted the celebration as well as speeches by local Members of Parliament and the Minister of Public Health and Sanitation.

Meanwhile, in the congregations of the 7 mission areas designated in the Lutheran World Relief /KELC malaria project, youth groups and congregants celebrated WMD in their own way.  In Hola Wenje, 250 congregants received a health message on malaria.

 

Parishioners in Kambu begin their celebration with a parade.

 

The Clinical Officer of the Mtiti Andei Hospital in Kambu gave a talk on malaria and demonstrated net treatment to 300 congregants. In Lunga Lunga, groups performed malaria-themed dramas and choral groups performed malaria songs at a congregational gathering. Festivities before a crowd of 250 in Malindi began with presentations of choral groups singing malaria-related songs, a comedy, and a drama followed by instruction on transmission, prevention, and treatment of malaria by Dr. Daniel Wanje of Malindi District Hospital. The congregation of Mombasa sent youth from Kambe Sunday School and Magongo to perform a drama, poems, and songs at the Coast Province WMD celebration. Tana Delta congregations invited their local health officers to give a health talk on malaria and demonstrate net treatment.  In Ukambani, the church hosted a soccer tournament highlighted by choirs singing thematic songs, youth group animators, individuals reciting poems, and a health lecture by the local clinical officer who demonstrated the proper treatment of nets; the climax of the event was the area chief’s presentation of soccer balls printed with malaria and HIV/AIDS messages to all participating teams.  One person from the 300-member audience at the Ukambani tournament testified,  “It was really a wonderful learning experience to many.”

Jerusalem Youth Hold Malaria and HIV and AIDS Seminar

By Candise Heinlein

 

Assistant Bishop Mnene, Church Elder Liz Ayungu, and Jerusalem youth partner with Malaria and HIV/AIDS Coordinator Nyamai to fight malaria and HIV and AIDS.

 

The youth of Jerusalem Congregation held a seminar on 17 April 2010 for training on response to malaria in their community. Malaria and HIV/AIDS Coordinator Darius Nyamai presented information on mode of infection, prevention, and treatment for malaria.  A follow-up seminar will be held on 15 May 2010 to provide training on HIV and AIDS. The training is part of the KELC/LWR project to engage all areas of ministry in malaria and HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. The youth, assistant bishop Peter Mnene, and Church Elder Liz Ayungu committed themselves to be partners with Nyamai in the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS.

KELC Trains Sunday School/Nursery Teachers on Response to Malaria,  HIV and AIDS

By Candise Heinlein

 

KELC Sunday School/Nursery teachers join in partnership with KELC Youth Coordinator and Malaria/HIV/AIDS Coordinator to fight malaria and HIV/AIDS.

 

Sunday School teachers from 7 KELC districts (Ukambani, Mombasa, Malindi, Hola Wenje, Lunga Lunga, Tana River, and Kambu) and Nursery Teachers from Jerusalem and Kajiado parishes attended training in Malindi 15-16 April 2010. The training was part of the KELC/LWR Malaria and HIV/AIDS Phase II Project, which aims to increase health seeking-behavior and utilization of prevention and treatment for malaria and HIV/AIDS among KELC congregations by 31 December 2012. Malaria and HIV/AIDS coordinator Darius Nyamai stated, “We are targeting 5000 children in the KELC congregations” over the course of the three-year program.

The opening devotion of the training session was based on John 17:9-19, in which Jesus prays for all believers to be one in him. In the devotion, the teachers were asked to become one with Jesus by joining in his ministry of teaching and healing. As teachers they already join in the teaching ministry of Christ, but are now being asked to also join in the healing ministry by teaching children about malaria and HIV/AIDS and referring children and family members for treatment.

In discussing the goals of the Phase II project, attendees indicated several causes of ineffective utilization of prevention and treatment for malaria and HIV/AIDS in KELC congregations. These include ignorance, the belief that malaria and HIV/AIDS are caused by witchdoctors, stigma, lack of knowledge, and lack of resources. The training session was the first step in overcoming these obstacles. Dr. Hussein of Malindi Ministry of Health instructed the group on malaria mode of infection, prevention, and treatment, and Ben Kitole of the office of District AIDS and STI Coordinator (DASCO) provided training on HIV and AIDS. The training session ended with group work in which the teachers created songs, dramas, and stories to be compiled into a Sunday School Resource Manual on Malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Jerusalem HIV/AIDS Outreach Groups Meet

By Candise Heinlein

Fifty members of the Jerusalem HIV and AIDS outreach groups met with the Malaria and HIV/AIDS coordinator Darius Nyamai on 13 April 2010 to discuss their program and progress. The members present represented half of the 100 members from four groups that are active in the Jerusalem community. The Jerusalem Parish HIV/AIDS program was established in 2001, and in 2003 the then National HIV and AIDS coordinator Britt Thorell embarked on forming the first HIV and AIDS support group.  At the time of inception, there were only six members.

There are now four Jerusalem outreach groups, each has as many as 20 to 40 members, most of whom are not congregants of KELC, that meet for psychosocial support. The groups employ various income-generating activities; three groups are employed in bead and soap making. One group has the ultimate success story: All members are employed in the community, and they are the facilitators for HIV and AIDS seminars for the groups. The group members requested monthly meetings with the HIV/AIDS coordinator to receive updates on HIV and AIDS and report their continued progress.

KLACC Meets and Renews Commitment

By Candise Heinlein

The Kenya Lutheran AIDS Coordinating Committee (KLACC), composed of AIDS chairpersons from each congregation and mission area, met in Nairobi on 26th and 27th of March. KELC Secretary General Matthew Dambala opened the meeting by welcoming all members. “We can walk together with other churches and the world in the HIV and AIDS epidemic,” he said. He claimed that millions have lost their lives and some do not even know they have the disease. According to Dambala “this committee is like a dot in the ocean towards the HIV and AIDS efforts,” but KELC has been instrumental in helping to overcome the challenges presented by HIV and AIDS. He encouraged members to work together with the new head office team (Darius Nyamai, coordinator, and Jefferey Osoi, field officer) to achieve greater success in AIDS work. He recognized that the work of the committee is challenging, but by working together we can make a difference.

 

KLACC members.

 

George Arende gave a brief history of the committee’s past efforts, and then each chairperson gave a brief report of their area’s activities. The members divided into groups to discuss past performance and give suggestions for future improvement. It was noted that there were failures in the past, but the committee was committed to finding a way forward and using this meeting as a fresh start. The main obstacles chairpersons and their groups face are transportation, communication between the different levels of KELC staff, and financial support. KLACC members discussed various means of overcoming these obstacles.

Following these discussions, Nyamai introduced the KELC/LWR Malaria and HIV and AIDS Project. Members prepared sample work plans, and Dambala called the meeting to an end. In closing, he stated, “We must use our past experiences, whether success or failure, to shape our future.”

KELC Launches Phase II of LWR Malaria/HIV and AIDS Project

By Candise Heinlein

 

KELC Malaria/HIV and AIDS Coordinator introduces the project.

 

In Malindi 12–15 January 2010, KELC launched Phase II of the Lutheran World Relief (LWR) Malaria/HIV and AIDS project entitled “Improving Lutheran Response to HIV/AIDS and Malaria in Kenya.” This project follows up on the initiatives implemented in Phase I, “Institutionalizing and Responding to HIV/AIDS in KELC Congregations,” from January 2004 to December 2006 and adds additional focus on responding to malaria in Kenya. Piggybacking on the global Lutheran Malaria Initiative, Phase II will focus 60% of its efforts on malaria and 40% on HIV and AIDS from November 2009 to December 2012. This project is a joint effort between KELC and its sister church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK). KELC will concentrate efforts in eastern Kenya and ELCK in western Kenya. At this project launch, KELC Malaria and HIV/AIDS Coordinator Darius Nyamai conducted a training workshop for pastors and parish mobilization teams. Jeffrey Osoi, KELC Field Coordinator based in Mombasa, will assist Nyamai in the implementation of Phase II.

Whereas the primary purpose of Phase I was to build the capacity of KELC as a whole to meet the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS and those affected by HIV, the primary purpose of Phase II is to improve access to and utilization of malaria and HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment measures among 7 focus KELC congregations, specifically among children, pregnant women, and people living with HIV and AIDS. The 7 malaria-prone areas chosen for concentration in this project are Kambu, Malindi, Mombasa, Lunga Lunga, Tana River, Hola Wenje, and Ukambani.

A recent evaluation showed that only 20% of people in Kenya were accessing available malaria resources and only 50% were using insecticide-treated nets (ITNs). Therefore, the two main objectives of Phase II are (1) to improve care-seeking behavior within KELC and (2) to strengthen KELC capacity to advocate for prevention and treatment of malaria and HIV and AIDS. The expected outcome of the project is increased care-seeking behavior among 100% of the 7 project congregations in KELC through church-led mobilization, health linkages, and heightened awareness.

The January workshop included presentations by David Rotich, LWR East Africa representative, and by representatives of the Malindi health community. Mr. Rotich gave a brief overview of the project, stating that malaria represents 30% of all outpatient treatment, 20% of inpatient treatment, and 72 deaths per day, or 3 deaths per hour. This is the rationale for devoting 60% of Phase II to malaria prevention. Dr. Hussein, Malindi district medical officer, briefly introduced the health facilities and initiatives in the Malindi area. Government policies regarding HIV and AIDS and prevalence, prevention, and treatment of HIV and AIDS were the topics of the presentation by Ms. Maimuna of the District AIDS Coordinating Committee (DASCO).  The Disease Surveillance Coordinator Mr. Mwangani provided instruction on the cause, prevention, and treatment of malaria as well as the government policies related to malaria. Finally, Mr. Matole, the Malaria Focal Person for Malindi, demonstrated the proper treatment of a mosquito net using government-distributed insecticide treatment kits. This workshop was the first step in the project implementation.

The second step in the implementation of Phase II involved linking key executive KELC staff with government malaria officials and LWR representatives. A meeting was held 10 February in Nairobi between key KELC staff, David Rotich and Anastasia Mulwa of LWR, and Christine Mbuli of the Kenya Ministry for Public Health and Sanitation’s Division of Malaria Control (DOMC).  Ms. Mbuli gave an overview of the government malaria control program. The vision of the National Malaria Control Program is a concerted effort to produce a malaria-free Kenya by 2030. The current goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality by 2/3 of the 2007/2008 level by 2017. They are using four interventions to accomplish this goal: (1) Case management: every person presenting in a health facility with a fever is tested and treated for malaria; (2) vector control: use of long-lasting ITNs, indoor residual spraying (IRS) in epidemic-prone areas, and covering of water areas with chemicals to kill mosquito larvae; (3) intermittent pregnancy treatment: 2 doses of SP during pregnancy; and (4) training of health care workers. Every three years, the government conducts a mass distribution of ITNs; this year is the next scheduled distribution. The government also provides free testing and malaria treatment drugs. Two other interventions that cut across the four primary interventions involve advocacy and operational research. The Division for Malaria Control is working with faith-based organizations to accomplish advocacy interventions and welcomes collaboration.

In a question and answer session, Ms. Mbuli was informed that community health workers do not have the ability to diagnose malaria at their level and was asked if the government would consider allowing them to make diagnoses. Ms. Mbuli stated that there is a plan to facilitate community workers with rapid diagnosis kits and that organizations just need to provide work plans showing what areas are involved and what materials are needed.

The HIV/AIDS Coordinator and the KELC Communications Department are working closely with the DOMC for preparations of World Malaria Day. Future KELC project steps involve malaria training for Sunday School teachers, development of work plans for each parish mobilization team, preparations for World AIDS Day, and production of IEC materials.

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