A Community Changed – Returning to Kuria, Kenya

Iiiiiiiii’m Baaaaaccck!  I was just reflecting on this: I’ve had the privilege to work with EVERY member of the Nuru International Foundation Teams!

I was a part of the first team arriving here in September 2008: Jake, Nicole, Doug and I. This is when we lived in the house with dirt floors and where we executed “Operation Spider Kill” with wild success (see video: Kuria Episode 2). We had many community meetings, listened a lot, and wrote up our baseline findings in the areas of Agriculture, Water and Sanitation, and Healthcare. We moved into the Nuru compound (now 2 houses with a wall surrounding them) only 1 week before Foundation Team 2 arrived to transition with us. Aerie, Chris, and Meghan moved into the second house on the compound, and started 2 new areas of our model – Community Economic Development and Education. Chris began transitioning with Nicole in Wat/San. When we left in March, Healthcare did not have a mzungu on the ground – Nelly was running the show by herself.

In June 2009, I came back and worked with Foundation Team 2 – this was the first time all 5 areas were fully functioning together on the ground. I was here a little over a month before David Carreon arrived as part of Foundation Team 3 to transition into the Healthcare Program Manager roll. That’s right – we’ve done this transition thing together before. And if you read David’s last blog (“Transition”) you know that he and I have different styles and focuses in our work – I’m thankful for that. We have great discussions, and critically pursue the best options after deliberating – sometimes a great deal. David, Chelsea, and Vivian have been here on the ground since that July 2009 turnover began.

And now I’m back here again – on the Nuru compound with Nicole, Doug, and Jake (from FT1), Aerie (from FT2) with a LOVELY addition – his wife Laura, and David, Chelsea, and Vivian (FT3), and a brand spanking new FT4 member – Thomas Hong who is taking over the Education program.  It’s quite a full house.

It’s really incredible to think I’ve been able to work with such amazing people all in the last year and a half. I’m incredibly thankful! These people are awesome – brilliant and truly striving to empower the Kurian people to pull themselves out of extreme poverty. I love it. I’m better because I work with such high quality people. And that’s just half of it….

Nelly, Pius, Isire, Christopher, Olipa, Stephen, James, Paul, and Charles are even Cooler!!!!!  Sorry guys, it’s true though. ; )

Nelly is the Nuru CDC Healthcare Manager, and Pius is now the Nuru Healthcare Field Manager. When I left in August 2009, Pius was one of 7 Field Officers. Now, he is Managing 7 Field Officers!  I spent Monday this week at Pius’s home with all the Field Officers and Nelly. They have a weekly meeting to plan for that weeks’ Health Representatives meeting, and upcoming trainings, mobile clinics, and other events. The meeting was long – but there was a chai and Andazi (fried dough) break and a lunch break. Pius’s wife cooked for all of us. And I was able to spend that time just catching up with my friends – hearing about who had babies born, how families are doing, etc. Pius has a 2 week old son – amazing curly hair that I couldn’t stop touching. They laughed when I held him saying “Oh, so you know how to hold a baby.” They made me laugh.

Although they might look the same, a lot has changed. They have come a long way in the roles they’ve been filling – learning a lot about time management, preparation for meetings and events, and even managing people. But over the course of the next 6 weeks I’ll be drilling down with them to make sure they have a firm foundation in the process of listening to the people, designing interventions that could work, evaluating those interventions, and adapting them to make sure people’s health needs are being addressed. Management and leadership mentoring is a lot of what I’ll be focused on. All the while, pursuing the Community Health Worker strategy and the Mobile Clinic strategy and all the other trainings and interventions that are underway.

Lots to do! 😉 Looking forward to making the most of this run – I hope to “leave it all out on the field” so to speak.


About Janine Brown

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