The Small Project funds two mobile camel clinic operated by Communities Health Africa Trust.
The Small Project started 2019 off in a big way! In 2018, we successfully raised enough money to fund not one but TWO mobile camel clinics operated by the Kenyan organization, Communities Health Africa Trust (CHAT)! For a number of reasons, the two clinics were in the field more or less back to back, the first from mid-January to mid-February with the other departing at the end of February and returning to base at the end of March.
Funding for one of these clinics came entirely from the Canadian High Commission to Kenya through its Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) program. This program disperses comparatively small grants to about six worthy local Kenyan based projects each year. The Small Project applied for one of these grants on behalf of CHAT. The competition is stiff with the High Commission receiving literally thousands of requests each, and we were thrilled and honoured to be one of the recipients.
The other clinic was funded through the generosity of several Canadian friends of The Small Project. While the lead donation came from Vince’s Markets, a small(ish) grocery chain based in Newmarket and area, this clinic would not have happened with the support of Nancy Main and Randal Hughes, Suzy Ivey Cook, and Susan and Ted Chant. We extend to these folks, and to Giancarlo Trimarchi of Vince’s, a huge thank you for helping to make this happen.
We were in Kenya ourselves in January and February and had the pleasure of escorting Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Her Excellency Lisa Stadelbauer, to visit a camel clinic while it was in the field. Accompanying the High Commission was Joanne Minns, political counselor at the high commission. Now, camel clinics are, of course, intended to travel to more remote locations in Kenya and this clinic was no exception. The drive was nearly six hours each way. When we arrived we were warmly greeted by CHAT’s staff. They were happy to see us in part because we brought them some fresh food including a case of soda pop! We spoke with some of CHAT’s clients and observed one young woman receiving a contraceptive implant. The staff showed us how they load the camels and even prepared some nyama choma (basically, BBQ meat) for our lunch!
The camels carry all the supplies, including medical equipment, tents and other camping supplies, food, and personal effects of the staff. The staff all walk alongside the camels. There are usually 10 to 15 camels with about six staff serving as dedicated handlers. Other staff include a nurse, one or two local mobilizers who work with people in the communities they visit, and a couple of people to help with meal preparation and general camp duties. The general pattern is for the team to pack up early in the morning, load the camels (a taxing business!), have a light breakfast, and start walking to the next location. The trek might be anywhere from three to six hours and the team’s goal is to get most of the walking over with before the day gets too hot.
Upon arrival at the new location, the camels are unloaded and hobbled so they can graze but not go too far. The camp is set up while the nurse and the mobilizers might visit some homes in the local area, encouraging people to visit the clinic. That afternoon and early evening and all the next day, the clinical staff receive clients. The next morning the pattern typically repeats itself, although occasionally the clinic will stay in one location for more than two nights if there is a lot of demand.
CHAT’s two mobile camel clinics that The Small Project founded were highly successful at meeting the stated goal of providing women with family planning and reproductive health care and information. Combining data from the two clinics:
- 266 girls (under 18 years) received family planning and the contraception of their choice
- 906 women (18+ years) received long term and reversible contraception
- 1393 men (18 + years) received “behaviour change information” and condoms
- 1447 boys (under 18 years) received “behaviour change information” and condoms
- 5899 individuals were reached with family planning services (contraception and information)
In addition, over 225 individuals benefited from HIV/AIDS testing and counselling and nearly 300 received some form of basic curative treatment.
What does this all mean?
There are a number of expected outcomes that will flow from the success of this clinic:
- Women are able to spend more time on economic activities that will improve the quality of their lives
- The number of unskilled abortions and infanticides will decline as unwanted pregnancies are reduced.
- Infant and mortality will decline since mothers will be stronger with fewer children.
- Maternal health will improve with more widely spaced births. (Most women opted for the three to five year long term contraception implants.)
- Fewer girls will drop out of school due to unwanted pregnancies.
- Greater community awareness of the connection between family size and then environmental degradation caused by too many livestock.
Over the years, CHAT’s mobile health clinics have made a huge difference in the lives of literally thousands of rural Kenyans. The Small Project is honoured to been able to support the good work of CHAT. On behalf of The Small Project, CHAT and, most importantly, the literally thousands of people who benefited from the clinic, we would to extend to our supports our deepest appreciation.