This project will provide comprehensive healthcare for 240 of the hardest to reach girls in rural Kenya when they return for their first school term from January - March 2021.
Girls have, unfortunately, but predictably borne the brunt of economic challenges, food insecurity, and social disruption. Well-documented practices of child marriage for material dowries, the pressure to engage in transactional sex for basic necessities, and gender-based violence have risen as lockdowns have dragged on. One result is staggering new rates of adolescent pregnancy - in one peer school, nearly 90% of girls became pregnant during the lockdown.
In partnership with WISER, comprehensive health care will be provided to 240 girls returning to school. This will include screening for and providing necessary care for early pregnancy, HIV, gender-based violence, endemic diseases such as TB, Typhoid, Malaria and Cholera, and now COVID-19.
Girls’ education is arguably the single most effective solution to global poverty, and COVID-19 has disrupted education for a generation of African girls, risking this critical investment. The Malala Fund predicts that the number of out of school girls will increase by 20 million before the COVID-19 crisis has passed due to early marriage, pregnancy, domestic responsibilities and labour, and gender-based violence.
WISER’s provision of comprehensive healthcare including treatment for diseases like COVID-19, Malaria, TB, and Typhoid, screenings, counselling, and treatment for STIs like HIV, and access to contraception and prenatal care will mitigate the threat of the pandemic to girls’ achievement.
More about WISER
WISER is a girls secondary school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya which takes a holistic approach to the boarding school environment. Unlike other schools in the area, WISER provides everything a girl needs to be successful including — clothes, books, safe housing, female role models, leadership training, healthy food, mosquito nets, HIV education, and essential medicine.
Unfortunately, we haven't been able to produce more regular updates during this project's lifecycle, but the project has concluded successfully.
While testing is not widely available, we have been monitoring health with daily temperature checks and other common symptoms, including cough and shortness of breath.
Fifty-eight students have received medical care. Our staff reports this has been primarily for malaria they likely contracted while at home without encouragement and monitoring to adhere to bed net usage.
Three students are pregnant, which is an incredibly low figure compared to the rest of the region, where some schools are reporting upwards of 70% pregnancy rates in their students.
WISER does not screen students for pregnancy when they return from breaks, primarily to reinforce that students will not lose their WISER space due to pregnancy. Pregnancy screenings are only provided to ensure proper monitoring and care are delivered to students.
For this reason, WISER provides screening for teen pregnancy after exams at the end of each term to preserve the girls' mental and emotional health as they study.
One student is far enough along to be receiving antenatal care through WISER. All students will be screened for pregnancy on March 17 - after the end-of-term exams and a few days before returning home for break.
Of course, all of this is in addition to providing bed nets, three nutritious meals daily, robust psychosocial support, clean water, menstrual hygiene supplies, and bath facilities.
Included is an image and description/transcript of a letter one student sent to Principal Dorcas to thank her for coordinating and paying for her care on WISER's behalf.
Dear Madam Dorcas: I would like to express my sincere gratitude for having made this happen. You made me feel like I am endeared and cared for. Thanks for having taken me to St. Joseph's Ombo Mission Hospital where I was given medication. At Ombo I was massaged, given medicine, and advised on how to administer them. Thanks for paying the hospital bill and extending much towards my health. I pray to God that he may keep you alive so that the love you have shown to me may be extended to some students who may be needy as I was. May God shower you with His blessings abundantly. Thanks again for pieces of advice you have always offered towards my academics.