Welcome Our New Healthcare Program Facilitator, Athena Childs Fleisher – Karibu sana!

Within this update, Rebecca Okinda Adhiambo, Nuru Kenya Healthcare District Manager, writes a wonderful introduction and welcome to Athena Child Fleisher, Healthcare Program Facilitator. Below, Becky shares Athena’s first impressions of Kuria, Kenya and her hopes for the Healthcare program. 

As District Manager (DM) of Nuru Healthcare it is my pleasure to introduce you to the newest member of our Healthcare team in Nuru Kenya – our Program Facilitator, Athena Childs Fleisher. Athena comes to Nuru after more than a decade in the fields of international public health, disaster risk reduction, microfinance, and social business creation. During graduate school, she chose to earn both an MBA and an MPH because of her commitment to public health and to running effective, efficient grassroots organizations. She has lived and worked in South, West and East Africa and is passionate about community led development and ending poverty across the continent.

I sat down with Athena to find out more about why she chose to work at Nuru and what she thinks of the Healthcare program and life in Kuria West so far.

Athena was initially attracted to Nuru by its unique model which builds local leaders, uses an integrated approach, co-creates interventions using a robust toolbox of poverty fighting examples, and does all this with a focus from the beginning on long term local sustainability through Social Enterprise development.

A few of the things that drew Athena to the Healthcare Program Facilitator position with Nuru are:

  • The opportunity to work with a team of excellent Kenyan professionals on local health issues
  • The vital nature of healthcare work addressing basic community needs
  • Her belief in the World Health Organization definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This is a definition that can best be addressed in a holistic organization like Nuru.

 

When asked why she wanted to work for an organization that does not give handouts, Athena recognized that an NGO that does not give handouts attracts people who work for the organization because they believe in its mission, not for the perks the job offers. The Nuru-wide commitment to the mission of ending extreme poverty translates directly to respectful interactions with Nuru farmers in the community. 

Athena’s first impressions of the Healthcare program include an appreciation for the dual strategy of promoting the social marketing of health messages while also facilitating community home visits by Community Health Workers (CHW) who are called Field Officers (FOs) in Nuru Kenya. The CHW model used by the healthcare program is one she had worked with before, but she has never seen a group that is as good at tailoring the healthcare messages and prioritizing needs at the household level as the Nuru Kenya Field Officer team.

Interacting with the Kenyan staff, Athena realized quickly how integrated the culture of giving and accepting feedback is at Nuru Kenya. This is something she has never encountered anywhere else she has worked in Africa, and she really appreciates the positive effect it has on continuously improving the organization. Athena is inspired by the problem solving ideas and support that the FOs give each other in their weekly meetings aimed at overcoming challenges in the field.

The one thing Athena misses most while in the field, other than friends and family, is ice cream.

When thinking about 2014, Athena is looking forward to working with a great team of people every day at Nuru Kenya. She is also looking forward to going out into the field and meeting the community, seeing how their lives are touched by the Nuru Healthcare Program. Athena is excited about participating in planning for the future of the Healthcare program for Nuru Kenya as it continues to grow and serve people under all Kenyan leadership in the future.

It has been great to welcome Athena as part of our team. We are looking forward to an eventful new year in 2014 growing and learning together in the healthcare program and in Nuru Kenya as a whole. We wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season and look forward to updating you on our healthcare activities in this new year, including the rollout of the Pre-Natal Care/Anti-Natal Care social marketing campaign later this month.

About Athena Childs Fleisher

Healthcare Program Strategic Advisor — Athena comes to Nuru after more than a decade in the fields of international public health, disaster risk reduction, microfinance, and social business creation. During graduate school, she earned both an MBA and MPH from the University of Arizona.

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