Renew and Renovate: Nuru International Healthcare’s New Year 2012

Christmas in July? Sure, a common idiom.  New Year’s in June, however, has less of a ring to it. But, after my recent return from the field I saw and felt a new invigoration in our team—perhaps the sparked light for which Nuru was named. Despite the fact that as an organization we operate on a January to December fiscal calendar, it almost feels as if Healthcare is on the brink of watching our own mirrored ball drop.

As any year winds down there is an element of cranking up in preparation for the next trip around the sun. Sometimes in the form of new resolutions, often based on lessons learned, we set benchmarks and make a final push to prepare for a launch into a new set of obligations led by the dangling carrot of the success we hope to see.

While in the States we are preparing for the thick of summer, and in Kenya, for the rains to slow and the equatorial semi-seasonless months to renew, Nuru Healthcare finds itself eager to unveil so many of the activities and systems we’ve been preparing for.

In the past few months we have refined our multi-channeled, behavior-centered Process (Nuru’s Healthcare Process).  To carry this out we have hired a new District Manager, a Training Manager, and Program Manager.  We have planned to integrate several aspects of the Water/Sanitation program into our own, and have been busy beginning to incorporate a Social Marketing Strategy under the Healthcare umbrella.  We are also in the midst of hiring and launching a new Kikundi (Kiswahili for Homevisit Community Unit.)

A few notes on each:

Healthcare District Manager, Becky Okinda:

Becky comes to us from the Safe Water & AIDS Project where she served as a Sales and Marketing Officer.  Prior to SWAP she worked with the Kenya Education Fund.  She recently graduated from her studies in Community Health and Development at the Great Lakes University of Kisumu.

When asked,  “What inspired you to pursue a degree in Community Health and Development?” Becky responded, “To interact with the community I come from, not necessarily with [financial] resources but with knowledge, manpower and local technology.”

Healthcare Training Manager, Robert Ndiritu:

Robert is a Certified Professional Trainer with a degree in sociology and pharmacology from Moi University. He comes to Nuru after a year and a half as a Training Coordinator with Gathima Pharmacy Company.  

Robert says, “I must admit, you don’t just work for the benefits, but for the call and the benefit is what your service will give to the community.”

Healthcare Program Manager, Claire Rumpsa:

Originally from Northern Ireland, where she earned a Masters (M.Sc.) in Development Studies, Claire will only be moving a few hundred KM from her previous post in Kenya as the Research, Development, and Quality Assurance Manager for Aqua Clara International – ACI.

Claire noted, “Coming from Northern Ireland, I am all too familiar with outside groups and organizations coming in and thinking that they know how to solve our problems. The best organizations listened to us, and worked alongside us to make long-term change….I am passionate about holistic community development.  I am determined to use my time and talents to be of useful service to others and to help them improve their lives in a sustainable way.”

Water/Sanitation merges into Healthcare:

Over the past year we have noted several redundancies between the HC and Wat/San Programs including the focus on behaviors related to reducing diarrheal disease amongst Under-5s and conducting homevisits for soap and WaterGuard sales.   In an effort to avoid redundant approaches we reevaluated our assets and activities, and created a new, collaborative system where Healthcare is responsible for the behavior-focused activities, which will include a Social Marketing component, Wat/San is dissolved as a program, and an R&D program has been developed to take on the creative and constructive (literally!) development or procurement of goods that will not only assist Healthcare in achieving their goals, but all other “Impact Programs” as well. Matt Lee will share more about the R&D program in the coming month.

Social Marketing & Fay Johnson of Red Balloon Ideas:

To launch our first of many behavior change campaigns we have begun to work with Fay Johnson, Managing Director of Red Balloon Ideas, who shares our passion for an interdisciplinary approach to development.  Using her expertise in advocacy campaigns and change strategy, Fay will guide us through the capacity building and creative process of corroborating our efforts on the household level with a wider-reaching Social Marketing branch.

RBI on Behavior Change Communication & Social Marketing Campaigns:

Social Marketing (or Behavior Change Communication) is the art of applying marketing principles to affect behavior for the common good, benefiting the audience not the marketer. Social Marketing can inform product design, community engagement, education or sales. While there are many large organizations working on international issues related to poverty and social injustice, Red Balloon Ideas is focused on supporting innovative ideas and local strategies that aim to create change from the bottom up. This can mean reaching key influencers or decision makers, but it more often means reaching the people whose individual decisions affect the larger goal of sustained economic and social development. Social Marketing initiatives require a commitment to work towards altering the beliefs, knowledge, and behavior of a target audience that in the long-term create far more sustainable outcomes than soliciting a one-time action.

We look forward to keeping you up-to-date as we unfold our new beginnings.  Over the next few months we will be sure to share our experiences with RBI and the Latrine Sales Campaign; expanding our use of The CORE Group’s SBC Working Group and the Food Security and Nutrition Network Task Force’s Design For Behavior Change Framework; the launch of our new Kehancha KiKundi; and Foundation Team 8’s arrival in the field.


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