We want to support the positive change we want to see in the world. With this in mind we have started to invest in a number of community programmes, working with local communities, to support the poorest and most vulnerable people to make sustainable changes that will ultimately improve their quality of life.
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Since 2018 MannionDaniels has been supporting a community health volunteer project in the county of Kakamega in western Kenya. The parasitic flea Tunga penetrans causes serious suffering and disability in this area. Once the microscopic female flea is embedded in human skin- usually the foot to begin with – it attaches to a blood vessel and expands hugely before shedding hundreds of eggs. This parasitic process causes intense pain and itching and necrosis of flesh. The secondary dangers are tetanus, gangrene, anaemia, impaired immunity, mental health issues, loss of employment and social stigma.
On a visit to Kakamega in 2018 we met a team of dedicated local community workers, calling themselves the Community Health Initiative Group (CHIG) who were treating jiggers in the area of Virhembe, a sub district of Kakamega. Impressed by their dedication, well-kept records and methodical work and aware that their efforts were hampered by lack of funds, we undertook to support them on a regular basis.
On a visit by Ruth Mannion (Director, MannionDaniels) and Mercy Nyaga (Non-Executive Director, MannionDaniels) the local school headmaster confirmed the benefits to the children. “We had 50 children with jiggers a few months ago and now, as you see, there is only 12 still receiving treatment”. The headmaster also reported that he perceived much better performance of children once they had been cleared of Jiggers. The team conducts household follow up and has identified several severe cases where children and adults are highly infested with Jiggers and this outreach work is now set to be expanded in the new phase of the project.
During routine Jiggers treatment visits to Lugango school in 2020, the CHIG team noticed several children who as well as suffering from jiggers seemed to be struggling with childhood basic needs. These observations were supported by the headmaster who explained that several children had no guarantee of a meal each day and could not afford the small sum required for school lunches. These children came to school without having had breakfast and had no certainty of a meal before bed. Some children had no secure place to sleep at night and climbed in through the school windows to sleep on their classroom floor. Poverty, illness, and broken families are the source of much distress to many children in the area.
After consultations with the head of the school who identified the ten most vulnerable children, MannionDaniels decided to support these children with school lunches, school uniforms, exam fees and any other school expenses that occurred throughout primary school. This programme was taken on by the CHIG team on top of their usual Jiggers work, and the first phase started in February 2020.
With permission from the County Health authority the team continued their jiggers work whilst also teaching COVID-19 prevention measures and handing out soap and water containers to every household. Jigger sufferers are often marginalised so maintaining regular contact with these households during this time was invaluable.
The finding and treating of jiggers and the education for preventing it has proved so successful in the areas of Shisava and Shingodo that the team is now reaching further out to the area of Museno.
During the COVID-19 school closures the CHIG team delivered food boxes to the families of the children usually supported with school lunches at Lugango Primary School. Schools have now reopened, and lunches resumed for several vulnerable pupils. The CHIG report that this one guaranteed meal a day has improved the chidren’s happiness and wellbeing. One of the vulnerable pupils was John, orphaned, abandoned and living rough, but with such a yearning for learning that he became a star pupil who wanted to go further in his education. The CHIG supervised outfitting and equipping him for his big step up to secondary school and we hear that he is doing very well.
In 2020, the CHIG team started a new tree nursery project, growing seedlings from seeds collected from areas around the Kakamega Forest Reserve, with permission from the local authorities.
Job Ilondana, member of CHIG and local botanist, is working with Ruth Mannion on the design of this new initiative that includes engagement with local communities and teaching school children about the importance of the forest and its conservation.
Thousands of native saplings are now ready to sell at market to raise funds for jiggers and the continuation of the tree nursery. Job has also began teaching natural history lessons in schools and is promoting environmental awareness in this fragile area of shrinking rainforest.
In our work, a significant amount of overseas travel is unavoidable. Every year, we record our total CO2 emissions from staff flights and invest the total sum of these in sustainable energy projects, which are selected by our staff. Find out more below:
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